1990’s TV Anime – Sailor Moon Episode 1 (1992)

OK folks, the deadline for my 1994 post on the Golden Ani-Versary Blog is fast approaching, and here I am still talking about 1992 on this blog. It’s time to knuckle down and watch cartoons. Let’s get back on the horse with Sailor Moon.

The big show of 1992. And 1993. And 1994.

We recently talked about this as part of our Magical GIrl podcast, and as I mentioned there, even in the first episode, you can see why the show worked so well. Visually, it contains touches that put the current inheritor of it’s mojo, Doki Doki Precure, to shame. For example, the sequence where Luna walks over the roof of a car, and the way the cat’s reflection distorts with the curve of the roof, is attention to detail that you just aren’t seeing today.

The monster of the week is genuinely creepy, both in design and movement, with more of a horror influence than the tokusatsu gimmick monsters of the week that Pretty Cure has. Doki Doki’s monsters almost seem like something out of the middle of a Kinder Egg in comparison to the soul consuming monster in this episode of Sailor Moon.

In contrast with the horror, there is also some well executed humour. You can definitely see the creative team connection between this and director Junichi Sato’s previous show Goldfish Forecast. The skeleton cutaway of Usagi above, appears as a single frame gag used as she comically hurts her knee on her front door.

The final thing that really struck me from watching it alongside five other magical girl shows, is the everygirl nature of Usagi. As I mentioned in an earlier post, even before they get superpowers, the Doki Doki heroines are already aspirational characters or fantasies. Usagi though is a cry baby klutz who’s not particularly academically gifted. 

She feels more like an identifiable audience surrogate than a lot of magical girl heroines, and that strikes me as being a big part of the show’s success.

In this first episode there is little evidence yet of the innovations it is most famous for, namely the Saint Seiya and Super Sentai influences it brought to the genre. We get a Sailor Venus cameo, and in a clever bit of casting both Luna and archvillain Queen Beryl are voiced by Keiko Han, who had previously voiced Athena in Saint Seiya (both Luna and Athena are responsible for assembling the heroes of their respective shows). When we get to the opening episodes of 1993 and 1994’s sequels, these influences will be more evident, both in Sailor Moon itself, and in other shows being broadcast.