‘Sailor Moon’ pioneered LGBTQ representation for anime kids

A few months ago, something forced me to start seeing again sailor moon in its entirety for the first time in history. But inexplicably, I found that the light-hearted, fun, and upbeat anime from my childhood in the ’90s constantly made me cry. I couldn’t understand why.

Then, when I witnessed some of the most violently regressive anti-LGBTQ bills (often targeting children) being passed again and again over the past two weeks, it hit me.

Looking at sailor moon Right now it feels like chicken soup to the queer soul. At a time when the hateful forces of evil seem to once again threaten to engulf our world in darkness, sailor moon Shines like a ray of moonlight – an unsurpassed beacon of hope fighting for love and justice, no matter how impossible the odds seem.

Seeing Sailor Moon right now feels like chicken soup to the queer soul.

For those in the know, the revolutionary rarity of sailor moon It was never a big secret. And I’m not talking about characters just coded as queer, or LGBTQ fans with the popular queer head canon, or even the inherent homosexuality of a group of astrology-obsessed girls who collect crystals to ward off bad vibes together.

This decades-old anime show was way ahead of modern Disney (which recently began to lament corporate funding from lawmakers behind Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay bill after immense public pressure to do so). . Disney’s ridiculously disappointing “exclusively gay moments” or Pixar’s first gay characters strategically kept in the background pale in comparison to sailor moonThe illustrious history of LGBTQ representation.

The weirdness of the anime’s original 1992 Japanese release was extremely explicit, featuring fully gay, lesbian, genderfluid/non-binary, and non-cis characters and relationships with very significant plotlines. But it’s not your fault if you can’t remember any of those pioneering queer animated stories from the version of sailor moon you watched as a child Because America being America made sure that everything gay was censored from the English dub.

But let’s recap just part of the LGBTQ representation of the show’s original Japanese broadcast that young, queer, millennial North Americans were stripped away thanks to their country’s blatant queer phobia.

Most famously, Sailor Uranus (Haruka) and Sailor Neptune (Michiru) went from romantic partners to eerily intimate cousins ​​who shower together and kiss on the mouth, since normalizing incest in children is apparently much better than the evil of [checks notes] lesbians. But there were also the same-sex gay lovers who were the main villains in season 1, Kunzite and Zoisite, the latter of whom the American dub gave female pronouns in their place.

Fish Eye, a central baddie of Season 4, is presented with a gender fluidity befitting his original fish form, identifying primarily by male pronouns but also very often in female presentation clothing. A whopping 34 episodes of Season 5 weren’t even released in English, completely erasing the Sailor Starlights, who are characters who present as male while in their normal human forms, but are later revealed to be biologically female during the episodes. magical transformations (oh, and one of them is hot for Sailor Moon).

Fortunately, when Hulu became sailor moon‘s streaming home in 2014, it released all 200 episodes uncut and uncensored, even working with Viz Media on re-dubs that reinstated many of the LGBTQ plotlines deleted from the initial North American release.


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But honestly, there’s pretty strong canon evidence to indicate that everyone Sailor Scouts probably land somewhere on the not-so-straight side of the Kinsey Scale.

At least in the manga, Sailor Mars (Rei) and Venus (Minako) openly flirt with the idea of ​​giving up boys for each other. In my experience of the show, there is plenty of teasing non-platonic intimacy exchanged between all the Scouts, filled with moments where the girls who get it he can clearly tell that something very LGBTQ is going on. Many (like me) will also gladly die on the hill that even the main lead Usagi is actually a bi-con for the ages, despite that annoying character flaw of having an undying straight love for Tuxedo Mask.

Of course, in many of these cases, it’s hard to definitively state exactly which Pride flag the characters would identify with. Aside from the fact that neither the creators nor the characters use any of the contemporary LGBTQ language or labels used in America, their entire queerness is complicated by the decades-old sexual and gender politics of two different cultures and a variety of male-dominated entertainment media. .

The Sailor Moon universe, in all of its original forms, has never been one in which cis-binary heteronormativity was assumed.

However, what is undeniable is that the sailor moon The universe, in all its original forms, has never been one in which cis-binary heteronormativity was assumed. I mean, we’re talking about characters who are often intergalactic, non-human, interdimensional beings. The expansion of their identities transcends all time, space, and the strict boxes that people insist on putting each other into. And isn’t that a true queer ideal? Simply live in peace, secure in the vast complexities of your own individual identity that you never need to explain, question, or justify as having a right to exist for other people?

There’s something indescribably powerful about a kids’ show that presents a world where same-sex love and non-binary gender identity don’t need to be defended with special fanfare because it’s just the norm. Most of the time, it almost feels like were strangers as spectators for wanting to attribute labels to them with a language that really only exists to help the dominant heteronormative culture make queer more digestible.


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Perhaps the male host of Sailor Uranus doesn’t fully identify as a cis woman, but she needn’t even address that possibility, as what really matters is the acts of love she shares with Sailor Neptune. Whether Fish Eye is a trans woman or more aligned with gender fluidity is also quite irrelevant, as there are many other more defining and central aspects of the character’s interspecies magical experience to focus on.

As a lonely and confused girl growing up in America, the powers that be decided I wasn’t allowed to know that. sailor moon was weird. Yet despite its best efforts, the show didn’t need to explicitly “say gay” for me to realize how uniquely it made me feel seen and accepted, helping me love a part of myself that would only learn the words to describe. decades later after coming out as bi.

That’s the thing about bigoted attempts to censor such intrinsic parts of universal human experience out of existence. You can try to ban it or ban it as much as you want, but queer always finds a way.

May stream Sailor Moon on Hulu now.