Monday, November 29, 2004

Sailor Moon mania!

Somewhere along the line, we picked up some kid videos with Sailor Moon trailers tacked onto them, and in due course Calista and Keela became fascinated. They wanted these "Girl Power" super-hero adventures on DVD or tape, so they could watch and enjoy. Well, that was fine with Lisa and myself. I grew up with Starblazers and Speed Racer, so I knew the goofy pleasure of Japanese animation coupled with bad dubbing. And we're going out of our way to give the girls pro-active female role models, so Sailor Moon seemed taylor made. A few months back I picked up the first volume DVD of the edited-for-American-television series, and the girls went nuts for it. Lisa even made a Sailor Moon costume for Calista at Halloween.

Naturally enough, the girls wanted more episodes--particularly keen on seeing more of the other Sailor Scouts, which are featured in the intro, but only Sailor Mercury made it into the first selection of episodes. Last week, for Calista's birthday, I found volume 2 and 5 at Hasting's for $9 each, which gave them a good dose of all five original Sailor Scouts, plus the two talking cats. The general formula of Power Rangers/Battle of the Planets is evident here: Bad guys come up with a bizarre plan to attain their stock macguffin, and after an initial setback, the heroes triumph in the end. Only after watching the last few episodes of volume 5, I could tell there was more of a developing plot arc to these stories. They weren't strictly episodic, even though they'd been edited for American television with some of the more graphic elements obviously chopped out.

I'm passingly familiar with anime, and know how popular Japanese series are usually watered down for American children's programming. I knew Sailor Moon was originally targetted to teens, rather than adolescents. I knew to avoid the "Uncut" versions of the series, which take up far more shelf space in Hastings--there are even boxed sets. I figured that these original versions are indeed better, with more coherent storytelling, but I also know that the girls aren't ready for something aimed at more mature teens. So out of curiosity, I did some googling. Aside from the somewhat disturbing fact that there was recently a live action Sailor Moon series broadcast in Japan, I found two interesting sites with lots of detailed information on just what my girls have gotten involved in: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Universe.

Holy moley! I knew the original versions would be darker and edgier, but... DAMN! Every single freakin' one of the Sailor Scouts, with the exception of Sailor Moon, gets killed off in an epic battle that spans the final five episodes the series. Two of the Sailor Scouts betray the others and join the enemy! There's blood and carnage and nudity. Sure, good triumphs in the end, and these momentous events are 200 episodes down the line, but man o man, am I ever glad I resisted the temptation to grab that uncut boxed set. In five years, the girls will probably eat that stuff up. I mean, they're pretty rough and tumble girls, and Calista thinks the threatened beheadings in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are downright silly, but right now, seeing their "Superheroes," who they've really begun to identify with, slaughtered and betrayed by the forces of evil... no thank you. They're not ready to parse that level of complexity, which is probably why they're not all that into Babylon 5 and Farscape yet, either.

It just now struck me that I can hold extended, continuity-laced discussion and debate regarding Sailor Moon in all that series' incarnations, and I've only seen maybe a total of nine 20 minute episodes, total. No movies, no uncut episodes, and no (thank goodness) live action episodes. Damn. Am I pathetic or what?

Now Playing: Various artists A Classic Cartoon Christmas

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