Sailor Moon in Japan (and Asia) Digest – Mid June 2010

Most of these articles are coming out of China! In the only newsbit out of Japan this update, a hi-res SuperS Boxart image has been revealed to the press. The cover features all of the main characters and Diana against a golden-colored background! While this isn’t set to come out until September, already this release is starting to pop up in articles in relation to that other series that the media always seems to place in a war with it – Pretty Cure.

Ikuni Lectures in Beijing!

We told you at the end of May about a special lecture series that Kunihiko Ikuhara (Series Director) was going to kick off. People’s Daily of China posted an article detailing what happened at his lecture! He began by talking about the general process of animation, and said that successful anime has high ratings, which in turn leads to high sponsorship, and the money earned by the anime funds more production. According to Ikuni, there are many Japanese anime studios that experience a lot of headaches because of high prodution costs. And then, he began to speak of Usagi Tsukino, as a real example of the successful career woman. This struck us as odd, but as we read on he said that this was true because many women want to be everything but it is hard for them to be it all during their life. Usagi, was an example of how she was happy herself with everything she was.Back when the anime was first broadcast, it was controversial for females to be depicted in miniskirts. Ikuni said that they wanted to show the girls as being uniquely female, and said that this was more about females exposing their femininity without the need for anything from males. This alone is a pretty strong sentiment about Sailor Moon and her feminist themes! He also talked about the differences between Japanese anime and animation from the USA and how they had portrayed girls. In the 90s, many women were still at home in Japan and not in the workforce, but in the USA it was so much different – women were almost equal in number to men in the working world! There was more of a diversity among women’s professions in America than there were in Japan, so Sailor Moon was seen a lot differently from an American girl’s perspective than a Japanese girl’s perspective that focused more on the kind of “magic” she could use. We’re actually a little curious about this and we’d like to know how he knows all of this!

He then shifted gears and spoke of the state of the Japanese animation industry. He said that anime is produced mainly for two extremes in programming blocks in Japan – the weekend morning blocks for children, and the late night block. Advertisers and sponsors also have their preferences for which anime they want to support. Toy manufacturers and food/grocery companies choose the weekend morning blocks, and film companies choose the late night blocks to advertise upcoming cinema and DVD releases since a much larger consumer base watches in this timeslot. He notes that while the anime that airs in these two time blocks are no different and don’t really appeal to different age groups, that it is the sponsors who think that there is a difference. He also calls for change in the anime industry, that a new business model needs to be adopted in the face of copyright issues and international popularity. He hopes that the latter will help to inspire different kinds of anime productions.

At the end of the article, special mention is made that Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Takeuchi, and was a huge it in Japan, the USA, and Europe. This show changed the face of cartoon transformations forever around the world, and charmed girls all over. The introduction of the Sailor Moon anime in China was also highly popular.

We have also come across some more images of the lecture as well! Up to now we had thought that the cosplayers were just there to present him the roses at the end and to just come up on stage. But these photos tell a different story: these cosplayers were actually students at the lecture! We especially love the shot of Sailor Mercury in deep thought at her desk! Unfortunately, the source of these images had only the tiny thumbnails for free (larger, hi-res images are only given to paying members of the Chinese press). You can see these images below!

Sailor Moon Cosplayers Rock Shanghai World Expo!

We hope Hebe Tien was there to see this! On June 13th at the Shanghai World Expo, a special event was held during the Expo’s Japan Week to celebrate anime and cosplay. The Contents Festival (or CoFesta for short) featured one very special act! 10 cosplayers from Shanghai donned their best Sailor Moon costumes and performed to a medley of songs from Sailor Moon! There was also a portable shrine just like the one seen in the popular anime Lucky☆Star! More than 3000 people attended CoFesta, and the crowds stretched right up to the roadside. When the Sailor Moon cosplayers came to perform, many of the youngsters in the audience got up and sang along! A senior student at the Expo commented that anime and manga make anyone feel like being cute. Sailor Moon is all about peace, friendship, and unity, and this is a good message to convey to people coming to the Expo. There is so much more in store for Japan Week!

This celebration actually began on the Saturday night before, and featured singer 22-year-old singer Ichiro Mizuki (not the same Ichiro Mizuki as this one) singing a Yoko Ishida song, and the renowned actress Kuroyanagi Tetsuko appearing in an angel costume that the audience thought was cute! And speaking of cosplay, at Nanjing University there was a Cosplay Elite Championship held on June 14th. Ten of the best cosplay teams competed at this event and one of them was devoted to Sailor Moon!

And boy do we have a treat for you! One of our readers in Shanghai, Chen Lien-hua, was kind enough to send us a lot of fan videos of the event which we have uploaded to our Sevenload page. We have to say, that these cosplayers did a very good job performing their Sailor Moon medley for the world to see! The videos are posted below.

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video A Part 1

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video A Part 2

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video B-1

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video B-2

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video C

Link: Co Festa Shanghai Video D

Link: (Untitled)Co Festa Shanghai Video E

And finally, a writer has decided to share their favorite toys from after the 80s in honor of the 61st International Children’s Day! Some of the merchandise in her collection is obviously not official, but we’re sure you’ll find something you’ve never seen before!

Sailor Moon in Japan Digest – Early June 2010

We’re retiring the old News from the Other Side of the Pond titles and are instead bringing in a new Sailor Moon in Japan Digest title. Mainly because, now Sailor Moon mentions in Japanese media are coming in packs (when they do).

An Article Comparing the Success of Pretty Cure to Sailor Moon in Japan (Again)

Once again, the Mainichi Shimbun has posted an article about Pretty Cure’s 7th year, and this time questions the roots of the series. Sailor Moon is mentioned as the first anime that started the trend of girl superheroes, but the article does not go without making a few controversial remarks about Sailor Moon. Fans can read an English version of the article here. Among the things that really struck a chord with us:

☽ Takashi Washio, a producer with Toei Animation comments: “We wanted to portray girls who don’t depend on other people, but always try to help others, the main characters are working hard towards their dreams, and we wanted audiences to see that as a cool thing.” Fine. Sailor Moon may have been dependent on Tuxedo Kamen to provide that crucial blow to weaken the enemy so she could use her “ultimate weapon”, but aside from that situation, every other character ALWAYS tried to help others. There were so many moments in the series where each of the Senshi were caught in a tough situation on their own. They handled it as best they could, until Sailor Moon could come and save the day. And don’t act like the girls of Pretty Cure aren’t dependent on each other either – they all have to unite for their “ultimate weapon” too.

☽ Akinori Takada, a media theory at Ferris University comments: “‘Sailor Moon‘ tried to work its charms on men, but ‘Pretty Cure‘ is different. I think that audiences have responded to the representation of independent girls fighting and solving problems.” Sailor Moon didn’t primarily try to work its charms on men. While the show did implore a few things to get guys to watch it, it was still at the end of the day an anime that was made for girls, and made to appeal to girls. And, audiences responded to much of the same things back in Sailor Moon’s day too, this doesn’t make Pretty Cure all that different at all.

☽ And finally, a comment from Ryota Fujitsu, 41, an anime critic: “Pretty Cure” focuses on the importance of friendship, and what sets it apart from “Sailor Moon” is the lack of romantic side plots. “The protagonists are cute, but they don’t flaunt their sex appeal, because the anime portrays girls who are vibrant and enjoying life, audiences are able to watch comfortably.” Uhh, there have been some romantic side plots involved with Pretty Cure, since many of the girls had crushes on guys (and vice versa). Nagisa had a crush on Fuji-pi, in the first season, Kento-kun had a crush on Inori last season, and those are just two examples. Sailor Moon focused on the importance of friendship just as much (if not more) than Pretty Cure did. Of course, we also think the protagonists of Pretty Cure have their own sex appeal, but we think we’ve written enough for this post.

Pretty Cure has a lot more in common with Sailor Moon than the people in this article think it does. While we think Pretty Cure has it’s own charm, just because it has had more movies and a much longer run than Sailor Moon, doesn’t bring it close to the legacy Sailor Moon continues to have in the hearts of anime fans all over the world.

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential Hits Shelves in Japan, On Way Here Soon!

Gigazine posted a review of Brian Ashcraft (Senior Contributing Editor of Kotaku.com) and his wife Shoko Ueda’s book, Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool. There is also a translation posted on their English site here. In there is a chapter dealing with sailor-style uniforms for any otaku wishing to learn more about how they came to be popular, as well as a section on comic icons which largely seems to focus on Sailor Moon! This book looks like it would be a great read, and we look forward to bringing you a few exclusives ahead of the book’s North American release in August. Brian also told us that he interviewed someone very close to Naoko Takeuchi for this book and we can’t wait to read what they had to say! However, those of you that can’t wait to purchase the book in stores in North America, you can import this book from Japan – it’s published in English there!

People Surprised by Character Ages!

Japan’s biggest social bookmarking site Hatena ran a special feature last week about the ages of different popular characters in anime, manga, and video games. While some people expected that Sailor Moon was around 14 years old, many were surprised by the age of some other favorites! Nintendo’s Mario is around 25, Hiroshi Nohara is thought to be around 35, and Bakabon’s father from the old favorite Tensai Bakabon is around 41. Some ages of these characters were unexpected by Hatena users, but nonetheless a lot of people were interested to find out what the ages of their favorite characters might be.

And to Cap…

Later this week we will talk more about Kunihiko Ikuhara’s recent trip to China, but for now here are a few images from the People’s Daily of Ikuni in action! We think he needs at the very least, a top hat, a mask, and a cape in that last picture to go with that big bouquet of roses… just sayin’ ;)!




Kunihiko Ikuhara and Other Japanese Pop Culture Scholars to Lecture in China!

Breaking yesterday on AnimeAnime.jp was a press release from Meiji University. Beginning on May 31st at China’s Peking University, a new course called “Advanced Course in Japanese Manga Culture” will be offered. This course will teach students about many aspects of Japanese pop culture, and will feature lectures from people involved in the study of Japanese pop culture. To kick things off will be a lecture about the history of anime, presented by none other than Kunihiko “Ikuni” Ikuhara (Series Director). Throughout the years, Ikuni has participated in panels and lectures on the subject. Other lecturers who will be teaching the course will include two Professors from Meiji University, Kaichirou Morikawa (Associate Professor specializing in Otaku Culture) and Yukari Fujimoto (Associate Professor specializing in Manga Culture). Both of these professors have published many scholarly articles about anime and manga cultures! Don’t we all wish we could go to this classroom? If any of our Chinese readers are planning to attend this course, we’d love to hear about this course!

S.H.E. Likes Sailor Moon!

Taiwanese Pop Group S.H.E is on a mission to help girls and women find the heroines within themselves! In March, the trio released their 12th album called Shero, and the title track is even being used as the official theme song of the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo. Fans can check out the music video for Shero here and a translation of the lyrics. On May 12th, an event was held in Shanghai, China, to celebrate the release of Shero there, and the trio was presented with special tickets to attend the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. They are looking forward to attending the Expo and also meeting their fans after a long time! Leading up to this event was a campaign in China to encourage everyone to “Find their Heroine” and the girls were asked who their heroines were. Selina Jen chose the sweet, sexy, and charming Catwoman, because she matched her straightforward and lively personality. Ella Chen chose the “superwoman” Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl, and Hebe Tien chose every reader of this site’s favorite, Sailor Moon! Hebe chose her because Sailor Moon is recognized as a most useful character, and Hebe even did Sailor Moon’s infamous poses on stage! Oh, and did we mention this is on YouTube? We’ve got it posted below, and this happens right at the beginning! Fans can check out more photos from the event here.

Sailor Moon Returns to San Francisco!

Ok. Not the real Sailor Moon, but still a cool one anyway! Cosplayer Maria Watanabe is on a mission to bring joy to people visiting Japantown and to teach everyone she can (especially children) about Japanese culture. She cosplays at Sailor Moon on Saturday Afternoons in San Francisco’s Japantown, speaking only as Sailor Moon would in Japanese! Fans can check out a wonderful piece here from the SF Public Press which features an audio clip in which she goes into the legend that Sailor Moon is based on, and how happy she is cosplaying as Sailor Moon! The writer could have gotten the description of Sailor Moon down a little better (she definitely doesn’t have blue hair). She has also started a special group for cosplayers, and welcomes more company to join her at the mall. If any of our readers in San Francisco happen to see her, we’d love to hear of your experiences! While we may not have the real Sailor Moon back in North America, it is refreshing to learn of interesting and creative ways that people are still keeping the spirit of Sailor Moon alive. Domo Arigato Goza Imasu Maria!