Otakon 2011: Comparing SM to Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Otakon Panelists Zoob Hernandez, Meghan Hartigan, and Alex Fogarty.

If your taste in magical girl anime runs beyond Sailor Moon, then you’re probably familiar with Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the fabulously dark and inventive 13-episode series that aired earlier this year. Even though we didn’t get a dedicated Sailor Moon panel this year (Boo!), we did get something called “The Fine Print on the Contract: The Themes, Philosophies and Birth of a Legacy in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” so I figured I’d check that out.

Unsurprisingly, Sailor Moon came up as a point of reference; as Madoka is considered a deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre (depending on who you ask, at any rate), it stands to reason that one of the series that helped codify the genre would come up. However, this comparison was to the detriment of Sailor Moon, as the panelists explained that they felt that the heroines in Madoka were much more empowered than the Senshi, who spent entirely too much time going gaga over Tuxedo Mask and acting like stereotypical females.

Is that a legitimate criticism of Sailor Moon? Or just a comment by someone who isn’t really familiar with the show? Honestly, we weren’t sure, so we caught up with panelist Alex Fogarty after the panel and asked him to clarify how he felt about our favorite magical girl series.

“I wasn’t trying to bash Sailor Moon, because it is a good anime…but honestly there are those points where it’s just *imitating the Senshi* ‘Aaaah! Tuxedo Mask!’ Nobody in this anime [Madoka] really does that,” he said, going on to say that nevertheless, Sailor Moon was a classic anime staple that he appreciates.

“[Sailor Moon] helped Madoka Magica to become what it is. Without Sailor Moon, I don’t think Madoka would exist,” he continued.

Okay guys, he gave Sailor Moon proper credit, so I think we can let him off the hook. However, I have found myself wondering ever since the panel whether or not the SM/Madoka comparison is a fair one or not. It’s true that the Senshi can get “girly” in a way that some viewers might find annoying or even offensive, but the twenty-year gap between the two series plays a large role- even with the “OMG Tuxedo Mask is dreamy!” interludes, Sailor Moon was (and still is) considered progressive in certain respects. Furthermore, the two shows were targeted at different audiences- Sailor Moon was intended primarily for girls younger than the Senshi themselves, while Madoka seems to have been targeted at an adult audience- specifically an otaku audience.

In my opinion, Fogarty is right; the heroines of Madoka are more empowered than the heroines in Sailor Moon. However, I honestly have no idea what, if anything, that’s indicative of. Has the portrayal of females in anime progressed? Or is it just a case of comparing apples to oranges? Feel free to enlighten me if you figure it out.

If nothing else though, the current popularity of Madoka may prove invigorating to the magical girl genre the same way that Usagi and co. were in the ’90s, and that’s something I think we can all get behind. I’m certainly excited to see what magical girl shows we’re going to get in a post-Madoka world.

2 Responses to “Otakon 2011: Comparing SM to Puella Magi Madoka Magica”

  1. SailorSagittarius Says:

    I hate when people badmouth Sailor Moon when comparing to other magical girl series. They say it reuses stock footage for attacks, has “monster of the day” enemies & doesn’t have many costume changes like Cardcaptor Sakura & that the attacks are yelled aloud which warns the enemy of the attack. You have to keep in mind the mindset and time the series started. SM was made during the time when anime wasn’t focused more on highly stylized visuals but the storyline instead. It wasn’t until anime was mainstream in most of the world around late 90’s that the companies in Japan wanted to up the standard production values. Not to mention the techniques and materials used improved in quality too. Back then, 200 episodes were a lot & costly. Only a few other series had numbers in the hundreds. Stock footage helped alleviate the costs. The lack of a different combat uniform for every battle would be near impossible considering 200 episodes. Plus, there’s a reason it is called ‘Sailor’ Moon. I agree with the above article in defense of SM. It was made for a different demographic originally.

  2. SailorSagittarius Says:

    As for calling out attacks, it might harkin back to when it was common for Samurai & Martial Artists to introduce themselves & announce the sensei/Dojo clan from which they received their training. If battle was won, street cred for self & clan was gained A combatant that had extensive knowledge of various forms of martial arts were able to determine the style &/or clan.

    In an interview with Mrs. Takeuchi in the late 90’s, she stated she she would like to do another season but isn’t sure how the storyline should go. She was open to input from both Japanese & North American fans. It would be wonderful to delve deeper into the events leading up to & during the time of Crystal Tokyo & the attack from Wise man & Prince Diamond, the birth of Chibiusa & Diana, the fate or destiny of Uasagi’s parents & brother, etc.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.