The classic anime Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is known to be a progressive and innovative series. It rose from a need for more superhero stories centered around female characters, and it subverts ideas long established by other anime and manga. This popular tale of good versus evil has become a model template for all subsequent "magic girl" series.
Nevertheless, the original Sailor Moon anime was first released in Japan in 1992. A lot has changed since then in regards to culture and technology. So bearing that in mind, let's examine ten aspects of the anime that haven't aged too well.
It's normal for an anime's style to change and evolve. Or in some cases, worsen. With Sailor Moon, the art changed from episode to episode. The series' original character designer Kazuko Tadano did a splendid job of streamlining the manga's style, but not every animation director upheld the standards she put in place. Considering the rate at which the series was produced, it's no wonder so many episodes look rushed or even sloppy. A change in tone also contributes to why the art may feel dated. For example, Masahiro Ando's cherub style just didn't fit in with the show anymore.
9 Filler episodes
In general, there's been a movement towards less filler in television. Stories have become more condensed and focused. The original anime could have easily trimmed the fat. The problem with the filler episodes isn't necessarily that they exist; it's that they weren't always entertaining. In the fourth season, the fillers especially became too slice-of-life — which would be fine if they had used the stories to develop the main characters in a way the more plot-driven episodes couldn't. The victim-of-the-day formula grew tiresome, but re-using past characters as opposed to new one-offs could've been a mild improvement.
8 Sailor Mars
Fans are divisive about Rei's controversial depiction in the original anime. She flew off the handle at any given second and she was hostile towards Usagi. As for the manga, Rei is demure — polar opposites in terms of characterization. Over the years, some people have denounced anime Rei because of how she treats Usagi. There's the argument she's protective and this is how she shows affection. One might interpret that reasoning as a justification for her near-abusive personality. Hardly. It's just an attempt to understand a friendship that the writers didn't expand upon after the first couple of seasons.
7 Fan service
The show's staff was made up of mostly men. And with the anime being made in the nineties, it catered to the "male gaze" without scrutiny. This meant the animators inserted upskirt shots whenever possible, and female villains regularly wore scantily-clad and provocatively drawn costumes. The Amazoness Quartet is assumed to be the same age as Chibi-Usa, but their attire is mature. Though to be fair, most of the recurring enemies' ensembles were in fact designed by Naoko Takeuchi. The difference is, however, Takeuchi wasn't sexualizing her characters the way the male showrunners did in the first anime.
6 Usagi vs. Chibi-Usa
Feuding relationships of all kinds frequent anime. It's a staple for the genre. While there has been good discourse over the nuances of Rei and Usagi's complicated friendship, Usagi and Chibi-Usa's longstanding quarreling is borderline torture. From the moment the pink-haired daughter of the future king and queen of Earth arrives, it's non-stop squabbling. It's not amusing. And it continued until they wrote Chibi-Usa out of the show. There was a discernible uptick in quality too. Nonetheless, Chibi-Usa isn't a bad character. It's just all her stories revolve around Usagi — which in turn amounts to a lot of unnecessary disputes.
5 Sailor Moon almost killed an innocent
In episode 42, Minako is visited by her friend Katerina. They knew each other in London when Minako fought as Sailor V. Turns out, Kunzite has transformed Katerina into a monster, and he's using her to draw out Sailor V. And after learning that Katerina "stole" Minako's love interest back in London, Sailor Moon tries to kill her. Sailor Venus pleads with Sailor Moon to stop. It's a glaring blemish on Sailor Moon's otherwise sterling reputation as a champion of good. On the other hand, it's a teachable moment on how even the smallest actions matter in the long run.
4 Usagi and Mamoru's age difference
In the manga, Mamoru is in high school while Usagi is in middle school. However, the '90s anime aged Mamoru up, so he was now in college when they first meet. Yet Usagi is still only fourteen years old. In olden days of kingdoms and royalty, sizable age differences were not uncommon. Usagi and Mamoru each descend respectively from the Moon Kingdom and the Earth Kingdom. So in a historical context, the age issue makes more sense. On the other hand, that doesn't explain Mamoru's age-up. There was no need for him to be at least four years older than Usagi.
On occasion, the anime showed its age when broaching queer subject matter. After hearing Makoto is on a "date" with Haruka (episode 96), the others tell Makoto not to "give up" on men. Speaking of, Haruka's same-sex relationship with Michiru is sometimes the butt of pointed jokes. As important as their inclusion is, Haruka and Michiru's personal life becomes a target for homophobic humor. Other transgressions include Usagi telling a female classmate it would be "better" to give her love letter to a boy (episode 178), and Usagi making disappointing comments about Kunzite and Zoisite in a recap special of Season 1.
2 Mamoru's jerk behavior
When it comes to Usagi and Mamoru — the present-day incarnations of star-crossed lovers Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion — their romance was severely mishandled in the early stages. It's true the pair didn't like each other at first in the manga either, but they weren't mean about it. In the anime before everyone's memories of the past are unlocked, Mamoru continually showed up whenever Usagi was out in public. His following behavior was nothing short of street harassment. It really begs us to wonder what kind of person Mamoru would have turned out to be had he not been Tuxedo Mask.
1 Crybaby Usagi
Something played for laughs ad nauseam is Sailor Moon's sporadic crying fits in the face of danger. No matter how many trials she overcomes, Sailor Moon's growth is ignored in favor of this reductive gag. The patent formula — Sailor Moon confronts an enemy head-on, then weeps until someone else intervenes on her behalf — lasts well into the final season. This is even after she's acquires her most powerful abilities. Crying doesn't make Sailor Moon weak or less than; she's merely a victim of stagnant writing. The show often impeded itself with devices and tropes no longer necessary or applicable.