Editorial: Sailor Moon as a Brave Dame

This essay was written for a college level course called “Women in Film.” Fans on our Facebook page indicated they would be interested in reading this type of post since news is kind of slow right now. We hope you enjoy it!

Terms used that you may be unfamiliar with are “brave dame” and “wimpette.” An explanation of these terms is included here for reference.

Brave Dame

“Women who are self-sufficient, active, dynamic, three-dimensional heroes who see past the picket fence.”

  1. She is passionate about something besides passion.
  2. Even in the worst of times, she does not give up; she is resilient.
  3. She is competent.
  4. She is willing to face moral and physical challenges.
  5. She has high ethical standards.
  6. She stands up to injustice.
  7. She is a true friend.
Wimpette

“A woman who is weak or ineffectual because she gives in, without a real fight, to the limits imposed on her by virtue of her gender.”

  1. All men are really little boys at heart.
  2. Your worth rises in direct proportion to your masochism.
  3. She always opts for indirection and subterfuge.
  4. Men are strong and women are weak.
  5. She has low ethical standards. She is a moral lightweight except, occasionally, in sexual matters (and even then her abstinence has to do with her perceived value to a man rather than her deeply held belief.)
  6. She betrays other women, including her friends.
  7. She does not take responsibility for her own actions and blames her lack of actions on others.
  8. She looks to a man to give her an identity.

From: Isaacs, Susan. Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women are Really Doing on Page and Screen. New York: Random House, ©1999.

The following essay contains spoilers for Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie. Please read at your own discretion.

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is a popular “magical girls” animated Japanese television show that began airing in 1992 after the success of the comic book seriesPretty Soldier Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie was the first Sailor Moon movie to be released, based heavily on the story lines of the second season of the Sailor Moon television show. In late 1995, the Sailor Moon television show was first introduced to North American audiences. English subtitled versions of the movies, created by fans, were available by 1997. The series is about Usagi Tsukino, who, on the surface, is often construed as an average fourteen-year-old girl and a wimpette. She complains about school, loves to play video games, is a bit of a crybaby, and often quite clumsy. Not your typical super heroine, Usagi even goes so far as to complain about her duties as Sailor Moon, the sailor-suited pretty soldier of justice. In Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie it is proven time and again that Usagi is, in fact, a brave dame; as characterized by her resilience, her self-sufficiency, her willingness to face challenges, her ability to stand up to injustice, and by always being a true friend.

In the direst of situations, Usagi refuses to give up; never sacrificing what she believes in and what she values most. Usagi’s boyfriend, Mamoru, is mortally wounded trying to protect her and then taken away by Fiole, appearing to have died. Usagi cries and blames herself for Mamoru’s injuries, but she never quits the team. Although she may want to, she refuses to give up because she knows that they need her, as she is the most powerful. Also, she wants to end Fiole’s plan to turn the world into a “beautiful garden,” saving and protecting the people of earth. Later, when her friends, the Sailor Senshi (Sailor Soldiers), are captured and tortured by Fiole, Sailor Moon drops her “cutie moon rod” at his request. Despite appearances, she does not truly surrender as what she wants most is for her friends to be safe, regardless of whatever negative repercussions she, herself, may be forced to endure. She offers herself to Fiole as a victim, in exchange for the safety of her friends, never asking for mercy. Later, with all of the flower youma (monsters) destroyed, the Senshi realize that they don’t have enough power to Sailor Teleport in order to return to earth. With the asteroid set on a collision course with the earth, Usagi refuses to give up and let her friends die. She chooses to use the power of the Silver Crystal to save her friends; despite their incessant protests to the contrary and the knowledge that the use of the crystal will probably result in her own death. And when Fiole returns again, trying to defeat her; Usagi remains determined to heal him – despite his advances on her boyfriend and his many attempts to physically harm or even kill her.

Usagi is extremely self-sufficient, and highly capable of defeating evil on her own. It is she alone who defeats the Kisenian and manages to heal Fiole. On the surface, as a regular girl, Usagi seems like a flighty wimp. Yet, in Jupiter’s flashback, Usagi is shown as being unafraid of approaching the tough Mako alone – despite Makoto’s reputation for fighting and bullying fellow students; leaving Makoto genuinely touched by Usagi’s actions. Usagi is more concerned with helping others than asking for others to help her. Even as a very young child, Usagi comforts Mamoru and cheers him up when he cries about Fiole’s leaving. On the asteroid, she uses the Silver Crystal to save the Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen (Tuxedo Mask), determined to save them on her own. As strong as she is, Usagi is fully capable of defeating evil on her own. But when the people she cares about are in trouble, she becomes very emotional; and can be driven to take extreme risks in order to protect them.

As is characteristic of a brave dame, Usagi is more than willing to face both moral as well as physical challenges. She goes above and beyond the call of duty as Sailor Moon, willing to endure any punishment in order to protect the people she loves. Sailor Moon offers herself as a victim to Fiole, in exchange for her friends, as she cannot bear to see them being hurt; she endures tremendous pain, as is evident by her tortured screams, as Fiole drains her energy; but she never once asks for mercy, not even when he tries to kill her. After Fiole sets the asteroid on a collision course with the earth, the exhausted Sailor Moon rises to use the Silver Crystal in order to save the lives of her friends, despite the knowledge that it will most likely kill her to do so. During her transformation from Sailor Moon to Princess Serenity, Fiole grabs her brooch, digging his fingers into her breasts, trying to hurt her. Although she winces initially, Usagi is determined to help him; long past when the other Senshi gave up trying to defeat him as well as the Kisenian.

Above all, Usagi is a true friend. She offered herself as a victim to Fiole in exchange for the safety of her friends, the Sailor Senshi. She also uses the Silver Crystal to save her friends, risking her own life in the process. When Fiole taunts her before trying to kill her, the true nature of Usagi’s relationships with her friends is revealed. For instance, Sailor Moon has great respect for Mercury and her intellect. Through Mercury’s flashback, Usagi is shown persuading Ami that she doesn’t have to work all the time, she deserves to enjoy herself just like everyone else. Although it doesn’t always seem like it, Sailors Moon and Mars are very close friends. They bicker a lot, but they also trust each other completely. Usagi admires Rei, and seems to idolize her for being hard-working. As Sailor Mars, Rei is always the one to save Usagi at the last minute; such as when she throws Sailor Moon out of the path of the wave of flowers. Usagi is never afraid of or intimidated by Makoto and appears to view Makoto like a big sister. She admires Mako’s physical strength, and absolutely loves her cooking. When it comes to Venus, there’s no question that Sailor Moon idolizes her for being the great Sailor V, but she also likes Minako for who she is when she isn’t Sailor V. Despite what other people’s opinions may be about the girls – that Ami tries to show off her intelligence, that Rei is weird for her spiritual talents, that Makoto is a scary bully, or that Minako is a snob because modeling for the Sailor V animators has “gone to her head” – Usagi doesn’t believe any of it. She forms her own opinions about the girls and loves each of them for whom they really are. Most importantly, Usagi brings the entire group together. She brought new meaning to their lives, as they did to hers, and Usagi never forgets how much they mean to her.

Obviously, Usagi Tsukino, or Sailor Moon, is a brave dame. On the surface, she is often construed as an average teenaged girl and wimpette. She is also an atypical super heroine, who complains about her duties as Sailor Moon. However, when it really counts – she is resilient, self-sufficient, willing to face challenges, stands up to injustice, and is – above all – a true friend. It is no small wonder then, that the Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon series created by Naoko Takeuchi is still fairly popular. The subtitled version of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie really allows one to get the full effect of the first released Sailor Moon movie. Unfortunately, the English language version of the movie, like the television show, is not completely true to the story or the characters. Sailor Moon’s great strength of character and qualities as a brave dame are presented with a greater poignancy in the original (subtitled) movie, and this film can truly dispel the myth that Sailor Moon is a wimpette. Because she really is much braver than some people think she is.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.