A few weekends ago saw the debut of Rei Hino, aka Sailor Mars, in the latest episode of Sailor Moon Crystal. Knowing that the newer anime will be following Naoko Takeuchi’s manga more closely, it was one of my most anticipated episodes to watch. I was not disappointed when I saw the “true” Rei come to life before my eyes.
I became acquainted with Sailor Moon as an anime first before reading the manga. When I eventually got my hands on the manga and was struck by how different manga Rei was to the classic ’90s anime Rei, well, the comparisons I made between the two versions were hard for me to avoid.
What I enjoyed most about watching Sailor Moon was the different personalities each of the Sailor Scouts possessed and how those personalities function under a team setting. Their relationship to each other was also an interesting aspect to gradually watch unfold on the show.
Anyone familiar with ’90s anime Rei will know that her relationship to Usagi is quite the volatile one. Both women rub each other the wrong way, they’re always argumentative, and they’re constantly in direct competition with each other until it becomes unbelievably childish. It’s almost hard to believe these two could ever be friends.
Discovering manga Rei to be much more quieter, calmer, and mature than her ’90s anime counterpart made me think, “Why did the creators of the anime decide to change her personality so drastically?” Whether it was to add more comedy to the anime or to have a Sailor Scout who dishes out tough love to Usagi in an attempt to make her a better leader and future ruler, it’s a change I actually wish the studio of the ’90s anime didn’t do. I found classic anime Rei annoying most of the time and she was probably my least favorite Sailor Scout out of all the ones in the anime. Someone who derives pleasure in constantly arguing with a “friend” isn’t a display of good character. If I were Usagi, I’d avoid Rei at all costs if that’s how our friendship dynamic always operates.
Seeing Rei’s episode in Sailor Moon Crystal and having her real personality remain intact, as how Takeuchi wrote her in the manga, made me instantly like Rei. As a shrine priestess with a gift in the psychic arts, Rei is both beautiful and mysterious. She exudes a gentleness and grace that the ’90s anime Rei sorely lacked. Her interactions with Usagi doesn’t have that fiery volatility and Rei’s rage only arises when she sees a friend or innocent in trouble. This is why Rei is suitably born into the role of Sailor Mars.
Rei’s episode only gives us a small taste of what this Sailor Scout is like, but I’m looking forward to having more of her backstory revealed. One of the best stories about Rei that’s seen in the manga is her complicated relationship with her father and why she seems to dislike men in general. Her story, and I hope it will be covered in the new anime, is one of the saddest you’ll ever read about and it shapes Rei into the girl you see in the series. You’re certainly not going to see this anime’s Rei acting boy crazy like we’ve seen in the ’90s anime Rei. She’s a girl who looks and acts much wiser than her years and her focus is her friendships and being the best Sailor Scout she can be. And to be honest, I prefer it just fine.