Recently I finished reading a book I bought on Amazon called, Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon Unauthorized by Jay Navok and Sushil K. Rudranath. Published in 2006, the book’s back cover summary states that the “book views Japanese society through the lens of Sailor Moon.” The book covers a range of topics from the familiar locations referenced in the manga/anime to the Greek and Roman mythologies that inspired Naoko Takeuchi’s series. To some extent, the authors make a comparison between manga vs. anime, what remains similar and what differs greatly.
The book is rather short, about 144 pages long, accompanied with black and white images featuring some of Japan’s known districts and landmarks seen in the series. The book itself almost reads like a travel guide into the world of Sailor Moon and how Takeuchi drew on what she knew to create her most beloved and international hit series. There are some brief profiles about the scouts and how they each represent some aspect of the Japanese culture. For example, one section entitled, “Rei Hino: The Spirit of Japan” discusses how manga Rei represents this idea of keeping old Japanese traditions alive while anime Rei leans more toward the idea of embracing the modern of Japan with little to no interest in preserving Japanese traditions. It’s topics like these that make this unauthorized book an interesting read. It made me view the manga and anime in a different light. If anything, I want to go back and watch the old VHS tapes I have of the anime and read the manga a little more closely.
Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon is an easy read if you are interested in diving into the culture of Japan in relation to the Sailor Moon universe. However, the actual analysis aspect of the book, bringing the entire purpose of writing this unauthorized pop culture piece gets lost somewhere in between all these snippets of places, talks of religion, and how the Sailor Soldiers are more than just a Saturday morning cartoon to be enjoyed by kids. The authors bring up a lot of interesting tidbits and ideas about the Japanese culture and their way of life during the 90’s, but fail to have a compelling conclusion to tie all these details together.
The conclusion brings up accounts of Japanese children and their parents’ reaction to the first half of the season finale episode from the first season of Sailor Moon. This is the episode where the Sailor Soldiers die one by one after confronting the servants of the Dark Kingdom who are sisters, or as we know them in the U.S. as the Doom and Gloom girls (the Americanized version of this episode largely edited any allusion to death when it first aired in the U.S.). The authors go on to explain how parents called the TV station greatly worried and upset that their children became traumatized after witnessing their favorite heroines die in the first half of the finale, and then demanding to know what will happen in the second half of the episode to be aired the following week.
I found this part of the conclusion fascinating to learn, and I was quite shocked that Japan would allow young children to watch a show that had no problem in showing the death of the Sailor Scouts. The analysis the authors come up with for these accounts they included in their closing argument is that the characters of Sailor Moon are “more than just fictional characters to these children, but their friends.” It doesn’t elaborate too much on this idea, and I would have liked to have heard more discussed on that matter with more evidence to back up their claims.
Overall, it is an enjoyable book if you are a hardcore Sailor Moon fan looking to learn more about Japan by using the series as its context. Just don’t expect any profound insights into the series or culture either.
Reviewer Rating: 8.0/10