Is Sailor Moon Japanese
Sailor Moon or: Japanese Pop Culture and its Implications for Asian-German Identity
The article first appeared on Danger! Bananas. You can also follow her on Twitter.
"Hey, the first episode of Sailormoon is out."
My sister answered on Skype. Sailormoon - wasn't that Japanese animated series where teenage girls fought evil (TM)?
"They have now made a new edition called" Sailor Moon Crystal ". The anime should now be closer to the manga template. "
I remembered Sailor Moon, of course. The series came to Germany in 1998 when I was around twelve years old. Sailor Moon was unlike anything I'd seen in entertainment for children before. There was certainly Japanese animation on German television before, like Maja the bee or Heidi (folks, Heidi will always be black-haired for me), but in contrast to these tame ZDF co-productions, Sailormoon was one thing above all: a real culture shock.
Sailor Moon was just not adapted to the public, sometimes staid taste of German television. No, Sailor Moon was loud, colorful, overdone, overdrawn. The feeling of being strange has burned itself into me: Why did the characters' mouths and eyes open so extremely? Why was the protagonist so clumsy? And what was this drop on the back of the head supposed to be?
At some point I got used to the style of anime. I learned that the exaggerated facial expressions and gestures should be funny and funny, that Bunny / Usagi Tsukino (the main character) should simply, well, be an exaggeration of an (under) average schoolgirl and that the drop on the back of the head should be an embarrassing situation or represented embarrassment or foreign shame.
Sailor Moon was the beginning of a newer wave that lasted all through the noughties: the enthusiasm for Japan, especially among young girls. In retrospect, it was a big thing. Because for the first time something came from Asia that many found somehow cool. On the other hand, it was a superhero made for girls.
Until then, I mainly knew from Asia kung fu films, Paris by Night videos (a kind of Vietnamese-American revue with a lot of singing, in Vietnamese households they are standard equipment) and war images of dead, dying and / or starving people. Not much to relate to or to relate to. Kung Fu films were exciting, but mostly films about men too, I always found Paris by Night to be a shame and war - who wants to identify with the role of victim?
But anime and manga - that was something else. It was pop culture from Asia. It was new. And it was considered cool. If you have so little to identify with or to identify with, then you also use Japanese pop culture as an aid to finding your identity. I might not have been aware of it at the time, but in retrospect, Japanese pop culture was a means of cultivating and celebrating my own Asian identity.
Sailor Moon was one of the many "Magical Girl" mangas / animes that experienced a revival in the 90s and 2000s, after having been an important genre since the early beginnings of Japanese comics in the mid-20th century. Personally, I never rode the manga / anime wave as fanatically as Sister Heart, for example, but it was part of the entertainment program. I still associate Japanese pop / rock music with my teenage years.
Sailor Moon Crystal - the new edition
Since today's pop culture is basically only built up from references to childhood memories (Transformers were formerly children's toys for which an animated series was developed, which was then turned into a billion-dollar cinema franchise, see also: superhero films, remakes of remakes of remakes, sequels by Sequels by Sequels), it was only a matter of time before the classic Sailor Moon would also be reissued. Even the new cut of Dragonball was a huge success, so why not milk the cow twice?
So, for research purposes, I watched the first episode of Sailor Moon Crystal. My first insight: you can't go back. Sailor Moon is certainly still entertaining for people fifteen to twenty years younger than me. The narrative speed is rapid, it is loud and colorful, there is enough slapstick and the plot is kept so simple that you can easily follow it.
What bothered me immensely was the animation style: On the one hand, the drawing style is old-fashioned because it sticks very closely, perhaps too closely, to the template. You can clearly see this tradition in Sailor Moon Crystal - from the eye shape to the nose to the highlights on the hair to the intro (I just say: J-Rock, wind machine and longing looks into the distance). The very "flowery" style reminds me a lot of anime from the seventies, such as The Roses of Versaille /Berusaiyu no bara. Personally, I would have liked more modernization.
At the same time, for reasons of cost, animation on the computer was used instead of drawing by hand on transparencies. This makes the animation seem somehow too smooth and cheap. And that the transformation scenes are animated in a kind of 3D, I consider an ugly stylistic break.
For the time being, I'm sticking to Mushishi, Community and Youtube as an entertainment program ...
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