Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Praise of Magical Girls

A few days ago, my inner DJ decided to give me an earworm that was a blast from my past. For hours it played on a loop in my brain, driving me half insane. It evoked crawling out of bed at dawn to watch TV with the volume down super low so my parents wouldn't know I was awake. It reminded me of doodles in my middle school notebooks and my first ever internet flame wars.

Fighting evil by moonlight
Winning love by daylight
Never running from a real fight
She is the one named Sailor Moon

Do these lyrics sound familiar? If so, then you're probably just like me and Sailor Moon (in all it's horrifically edited and dubbed glory) was your first taste of anime and the "magical girl" genre. When I was little, nothing thrilled me more than Sailor Moon. To this day, I still completely and unironically love that blonde weirdo and her gang of merry schoolgirls. Serena (or Usagi, as she's known as in her hometown of Japan) was a turning point in my childhood. She was everything I wanted to be and more. She was part superhero, part secret princess, with a gaggle of loyal friends and fearsome enemies to defeat. She came complete with a Ken doll-esque boyfriend (seriously, did Tuxedo Mask even HAVE a personality?) and a talking cat.

Sailor Moon was just the tipping point. I found other magical girls to adore, like the trio from Magic Knight Rayearth or the girl who introduced me to the gorgeous world of CLAMP, Cardcaptor Sakura. They were all butchered for American audiences and the first thing I ever learned to download on my own from the interweb was a subbed version of Japanese Sailor Moon. I cherished even the butchered versions, loving the hokey themes of friendship and the triumphant of good over the maniacal drama of bad. At a time when I had no friends because a recent cross country move had ruined my ten year old life, the Sailor Scouts gave me something to look forward to. Between those planetary schoolgirls and my Tamora Pierce novels, I managed to maintain my sanity.

Now that I'm a fancy schmancy adult, my anime tastes run more to the deeply violent or the deeply meaningful, but I still hold a place in my heart for Sailor Moon. She was an adorable ditz who saved the world from subpar enemies. Her transformation sequence takes forever and I wonder why someone hasn't pulled an Indiana Jones on her and just shot her mid-transforming. Yet, she's endearing and loveable. Her friends are loyal and brave.  

This past week and the introduction of the Sailor Moon theme song as my earworm of choice got me thinking about these old shows. Magic Knight Rayearth is now available on Hulu, so I've been happily devouring the show and remembering how awesome it was. After all these years, I'd still choose to be a magical girl over any other anime trope. Forget having a giant mech or a pokeball, give me a glowstick that turns me into a Sailor Scout. I keep thinking that might be my reason for being okay with the abysmal Suckerpunch movie. Besides all the epic problems it had, it was basically a magical girl movie. Ladies in costumes kicking ass! That's all I want in this world; more ladies in costumes kicking ass.

So while I'm writing this article partly to see if it will remove the theme song from my brain (it hasn't), I also want to praise the magical girl genre. We need more magical girls. Strong, kick butt girls who use magic and wear crazy costumes with even crazier hair. Sailor Moon is going to get a new anime treatment soon, and CLAMP keeps regurgitating and repackaging their characters, but the genre could use fresh blood.

Call me a childish idealistic, call me insane, but magical girls could use a revamp just like some certain technicolor ponies got. Bring it on. Be creative. Let's get these girls back to twirling into their costumes and fighting space evil. I'm an adult. I have my own TV now. I can have the volume up as loud as I want when I watch Sailor Moon at dawn. Just keep the theme song the same. I already know all the words.

Do you remember Sailor Moon fondly? Let me know your take on magical girls in comments!
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1 comment:

  1. I loved Sailor Moon and also got up way early to watch it.