Just about everyone on the planet has at least heard of the famous Japanese shōjo anime series Sailor Moon, the show based off of Naoko Takeuchi's manga series from the early nineties. At the height of Sailor Moon's popularity, we were bombarded with five seasons of anime, a live-action series, television specials, movies, toys, trading cards, video games, and even musicals based on the world's most famous teenaged guardian. Now, we have a modern-day reboot of the original series with Sailor Moon Crystal.
But what exactly is it about Sailor Moon that stole the hearts of millions of children around the world? Fans of the show would agree that Usagi isn't just a cute, blonde superhero -- she's also one of the first positive female cartoon role models we ever were exposed to as kids growing up in the late '90s. We put together a list of reasons why Usagi is an awesome role model, and how we can still apply the life lessons she taught us to our adult lives.
Here are 15 Reasons Why Sailor Moon Is The Best Role Model Ever
15 She’s the anti-Disney Princess
Let’s compare what Disney princesses often represent (at least in the not-too-distant past) and what Usagi represents. Disney princesses were often considered inspiration for young girls, but that inspiration was not always entirely positive in term of gender roles. More often than not, Disney princesses were devices used to convince us that a handsome man must jump in to save us from danger, marry us, and take care of us helpless little things. This trope is harmful to young girls as well as young boys.
But Sailor Moon didn’t play by the same rules. Sure, Usagi had her cute teenage romance. But Tuxedo Man’s role in the series was ambiguous, he was kind of a jerk, and he was usually pretty useless in just about every battle Usagi and the gang were fighting. Sailor Moon focused on the idea of young magical girls saving themselves, even if at times they were pretty terrible at it.
14 She inspired young girls to be something other than pretty
Usagi is far from the perfect feminist symbol. Everything about her appearance is stereotypically feminine, with her long blonde hair, seemingly perfect face and slender body. And for the first season of the original series, she was insanely boy crazy. These shortcomings aside, Usagi dedicates herself, in her own words, to "love and justice". She may be concerned with stereotypically teen girly things, but her focus in life was truly on the bigger picture. She wants to protect her friends, fight evil, and save the world.
While Usagi is very feminine and pretty, it's not all she is nor all she wants to be. In fact, other than comical moments showing Usagi freaking out over her appearance, her looks and the looks of her friends are rarely talked about among the group. What matters to them is their mission. If that doesn’t inspire young girls to be little badasses, we don’t know what will.
13 She doesn’t engage in the “frenemies” trope
The theme of Sailor Moon is definitely “girl power”. And a big part of that ambiguous term is friendship.
There are millions of comics, films, TV shows, and other entertainment media that focus on pitting women against each other. From a more innocent and palatable healthy competition to downright vindictive attitudes women have towards each other in media, it feels pretty inescapable. And predictable. Reality television rehashed the hell out of this trope and it is still rare to tune in to such "entertainment" without witnessing at least one vicious altercation between women.
This is why Sailor Moon was (and Sailor Moon Crystal is) a fantastic show. There was absolutely no gross frenemy-style dialogue going on. On the contrary, the main theme of Sailor Moon was friendship.
Usagi would have spats with a few of her friends, but there was no vindictive behavior between these pals. That's what a healthy friendship is all about, and it's awesome that young women have been exposed to the show for this reason.
12 Those Sailor Moon PSAs
Fans of Sailor Moon in the States probably remember those Sailor Moon PSAs called “Sailor Says”. After every episode of the official English dubbed version of the show, there would be a Public Service Announcement from the cast of the show. These PSAs often covered things like how to maintain a healthy friendship. Others often gave us little positive reminders and tidbits like "Believe in yourself!" and "Friendship is everything!" These little bits were pretty useless as a whole, and just contained random clips from the show with English-language Usagi (Serena) spouting off some vague bits of advice.
There were a handful of Sailor Moon PSAs that dug deep though, while still maintaining that good old (and pretty corny) Sailor Moon childhood goodness. There were PSAs about actively being mindful, practicing body positivity, and trying your best in school. All of which are great little pieces of encouragement for children.
All of the "Sailor Says" segments are available on YouTube for your cringing (and beneficial) pleasure.
11 The undubbed original series was an LGBTQ trailblazer
The original undubbed version of Sailor Moon was one of the most progressive cartoons on television, without a doubt. Specifically when it came to the relationship between Haruka Tenou (Sailor Uranus) and Sailor Neptune (Michiru Kaiou). The show was very clear about the two ladies’ relationship. Our first introductory scene that showed the pair as a romantic couple even poked fun at heteronormativity. Haruka and Michiru also had quite a few scenes where they made little comedic (but clear) comments about their romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, the English dub completely changed the dialogue (and relationship) between the two girls. How could the stateside production company possibly protect our poor American snowflake babies from all that gay stuff? By making the characters cousins instead of girlfriends.
Luckily, Sailor Moon Crystal had no time for that nonsense and brought back Haruka and Michiru’s queer relationship quite unapologetically. Visibility is everything for young LGBTQ people, and this is yet another reason why the show was and is fantastic.
10 She has no patience for misogyny
Sailor Moon was obviously all about being a badass woman and promoting female empowerment. But there’s a specific scene from the thirteenth episode of the show’s first season that really seals the deal. It was difficult as a young girl watching this scene for the first time to not jump up and down with excitement.
In "Girls Unite: The End of Jadeite" an evil Shitennou named Jadeite is causing nothing but trouble for the Sailor Scouts. After supposedly killing Tuxedo in battle, Jadeite starts spouting off some misogynist garbage to the girls, claiming that they can't do anything without the help of a man. The scouts had no patience for that noise and let him have it. The most memorable line of dialogue from this scene came from Usagi, who lifted her fist in the air and shouted: "Down with sexual discrimination!"
Like the queer relationship between Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, the English dub of the show cut out the most inspiring bits of this episode. Thankfully, the new English dub was more true to the original dialogue.
9 She’s relatable
Usagi is a crybaby. When she first became a legendary magical girl, she often became frightened and would run away from danger. What matters is that she always came back.
Sailor Moon had so many relatable quotes as well, most of which came from Usagi complaining about being a crybaby, how cute boys are, and food (well, mostly food). But a big part of what makes Usagi so relatable, especially to her target audience of adolescent girls, is that she was just that -- an adolescent girl. Being a magical girl soldier was just a part of who she was, but at her character’s core, she was a goofy, funny, feminine character. There was no attempt to make Usagi seem like a “goal” to young girls that watched Sailor Moon. Rather, viewers could put themselves in Usagi’s shoes very easily. This is a big reason why Sailor Moon is a fantastic role model. Instead of seeming like a far-off idea of what a little girl could grow up to be, she already was one. She inspired a whole generation of girls to be proud of who they were.
8 She takes her female friendships seriously
While we have already mentioned how Sailor Moon’s Sailor Scouts had no tolerance for frenemies, it should be noted just how important the theme of friendship was on the show and how Usagi and the gang approached their female friendships.
Sailor Moon managed to completely do away with the stereotypical social ideas of how women interact in friendships with other women. The idea that they cannot be friends with other women without being catty is incredibly damaging for young girls to hear. Sailor Moon didn't engage in that stereotype and portrayed all of the Sailor Scouts in realistic healthy relationships with each other. They would bicker, disagree, get competitive, and even get jealous, but the way those interactions were portrayed weren't insidious and ugly. It wasn’t a backhanded commentary on how catty and untrustworthy girls are. Conflicts would always resolve in the show, and at the end of the day, the girls only wanted to be around each other and be happy with their friends.
7 She taught us the dangers of eating disorders
The fourth episode of the original series "Usagi Will Teach You! How to Lose Weight" had a theme that was not often included in children's shows. However, the writers behind Sailor Moon wanted to teach the young girls watching at home how dangerous eating disorders can be, even if the episode was a little bit problematic.
In the episode, Usagi discovers that she had gained a little weight from eating too much food. It definitely doesn't help that Luna draws a picture of a fat version of Usagi that further hurts her self-confidence. Usagi starts skipping meals and joins a gym that boasts an "instant results" weight loss plan. Usagi ends up fainting while with Motoki because she had been starving herself. In the end, Usagi must save the day and stops harming herself. The "Sailor Says" PSA that followed the episode focused on how important exercise and healthy eating are way better for you that skipping meals.
6 She’s incredibly powerful yet very human
Usagi is generally known as a total badass, but she is far from the strongest protagonist ever. We can’t all be Wonder Woman, we can only be the best version of ourselves. Sailor Moon portrayed Usagi as an immensely powerful individual, but also as a vulnerable teenage girl that had been thrown into a whole new life of fighting evil.
Usagi isn't perfect by any means, and the show really didn't try to push her as a weakness-free, pristine character. She sucks at school, is generally lazy, eats a lot of food, talks a lot about food, and is generally addicted to eating. She often doubts her own inner strength when it comes to being a Sailor Scout, a feeling of inadequacy that we all can relate to at times. Still, she defies the odds time after time, defeats the bad guys, and learns a little something about herself and her friends each time.
Usagi said it best herself: “The tough experiences in life are what make us girls prettier.”
5 She taught us about risk taking and the power of forgiveness
Beware of spoilers ahead, cause we're going to dive into the original anime ending of Sailor Moon!
It takes a special kind of writing to really drive home complex concepts to children watching a TV show. Sailor Moon managed this with the series' ending. The Sailor Starlights engage in a final battle with Galaxia, which ends in their defeat. After revealing that she was once the most powerful Sailor Scout in the galaxy and fought for good, Galaxia admits that Chaos has been sealed inside her body in order to protect the universe from its evil. The process of consuming Chaos has turned her into a demonic, completely engulfed force of evil. Sailor Moon is the last one standing, and she offers Galaxia forgiveness -- successfully healing her in the process and distributing small parts of Chaos to creatures around the world, where it naturally should be.
The final scenes were heartwarming, especially because Sailor Moon chose to stay in her human form and her powerful gesture not only saved Galaxia from evil, but also revived her dead friends. She was able to teach us the power of forgiveness and why taking risks are important.
4 Those Leadership qualities
Just because Usagi is the direct reincarnation of Princess Serenity, the once leading member of the royal Moon Kingdom family, doesn't mean she was just handed a leadership role within the Sailor Scouts. At times, she actually did an awful job with the noble title. Usagi actually has some of the best leadership qualities, especially for a female animated character during the original anime's time.
Usagi is kind, selfless, compassionate, flawed, self-aware, and strong. All of these are amazing qualities in a great leader. She believes in the power of teamwork as well.
There were also several beautiful scenes in the manga and anime that showed how a good amount of Usagi's strengths came from her friends. Their encouragement, belief in her, and love contributed to Usagi's growth as a person and growth as a universe-defending leader. The show managed to translate this loving interaction as something beautiful rather than something co-dependant.
3 She taught us about kindness and self-love
While Usagi certainly had her share of self-conscious moments throughout the original series, she also had a lot of natural self-confidence as well. And that confidence only grew as she got older.
Sailor Moon showed young kids that it's okay to compliment yourself and believe in your own abilities; it actively encouraged it, in fact. She had a lot of confident outbursts throughout the show that included "I'm so amazing!" and "I'm just a little clumsy and a bit of a crybaby. That's about it!" She grew more patient as the show went on, putting herself down less and less. Nothing tells an audience of young people that there is hope to mend their confidence quite like Usagi's slow-burning storyline and character development.
It takes a lot of courage and confidence to battle evil on the daily, but Sailor Moon manages to do it. What's not inspiring about that?
2 The show promoted education
Usagi notoriously hated school and doing homework, something that made her even more relatable than she already was. However, she was very aware of the importance of education, and Sailor Moon was actually quite an educational show.
Aside from drilling into our heads the names of every planet in the solar system, Sailor Moon taught us about identity, emotions, and confidence. The show painted a picture for us that showed that there is more than one way to be "smart" and "strong", how to engage in healthy friendships, and how to own our own identities and self-depictions.
There were also several "Sailor Says" episodes that drove the point home to young viewers about how important education is to one's future. Those PSAs reminded us that eating healthy food and getting a good night's rest help us learn at maximum efficiency. If only that idea was as simple for college students.
1 She taught us about healthy romantic relationships
Mamoru may be pretty useless in a fight, but the love story between Usagi and Mamoru transcends time. However, their relationship still suffers from rocky patches, just like any other normal human relationship, and they both work hard to fix their issues.
Mamoru often feels bad for not being able to protect Usagi, but he knows she can take care of herself well enough on her own. She is a guardian of the universe, after all. He knows he can be her moral support and sidekick, both of which are qualities you don't typically see in shoujo media. They both also grew up together and experienced their own character development together, showing that a deeply loving friendship is key to a healthy romantic relationship. Their pairing may not be the pinnacle of an ideal feminist relationship, but it did portray a relationship that was real, honest, and mostly equal.
They're also super stylish together, especially in Sailor Moon Crystal.
Is Sailor Moon one of your personal role models? How on board would you be with a big-budget live-action adaptation of the character? Let us know in the comments.