Character Analysis, Pop Culture, Television

Femininity as a Source of Power in Sailor Moon (90s Anime)

Black girl with an afro puff has a glowing Sailor Moon crescent moon on her forehead looking to the right. There is text that reads "In the Name of the Moon, I'll punish you" above her head.

“In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you.”

Sailor Moon was the first magical girl anime I had ever watched. The first time I saw the pretty Senshi was in a Blockbuster store with my dad. I begged him to rent the first season, and he did. From then on, I became hooked on Usagi Tsukino and her band of Sailor Senshi.

Sailor Moon was the first series I had ever seen where the female lead was strong AND feminine. She is a superhero with a personality that is unlike any other woman superhero. Usagi is a crybaby, dramatic, and cowardice at times, but she’s also not afraid to be herself—a girl’s girl. Unlike most modern female superheroes, she embraces her femininity by continually talking about love and dreams. Often, she uses femininity as a strength rather than a hindrance to ignore and hide.

Usagi/Sailor Moon represents so much more than a ditzy strong-willed magical girl; she is the ultimate embodiment of femininity as a powerful source of strength. In today’s piece, we’ll be discussing Usagi/Sailor Moon’s character and her roots in femininity. I will only be referencing the 90s anime Sailor Moon because I am still reading the manga Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.

How Usagi Tsukino Represents Femininity

To truly understand Usagi’s representation of femininity, let’s dive into what traits traditionally related to womanhood describe her. Usagi is bubbly, innocent, emotional, and sweet—all characteristics associated with femininity in girlhood. Hence, we see her enjoying spending time with her friends, blushing around every cute guy she meets, and being kind to strangers, despite the bad things she may have heard about them (*cough cough* Ami). She is the typical teenage girl from a traditional perspective on femininity.

Although naive, Usagi always seeks to nurture others the best she can, whether it be with advice in love, finding oneself, or following one’s dreams. For example, in the Amazon Trio arc, Fish’s Eye goes after Mamoru, and although he doesn’t fall for their attempts, Usagi still shows great jealousy (who wouldn’t?).

Despite her disdain for Fish’s Eye at first, she chooses to support them when they’re down and out sulking in the rain. She has this innate sense of innocence and nurturing that brings her to aid those in opposition.

Gif Sailor Moon using an attack on an enemy. Femininity in Sailor Moon blog post.Gif via Giphy 

How Sailor Moon Represents Femininity

As she discovers her true self, Sailor Moon, and her other many incarnations, we see her use these traditional tropes of girlhood in a way that we usually don’t see in television surrounding woman superheroes.

In the Black Moon arc, instead of completely taking out the Ayakashi (Specter) Sisters, she appeals to their emotions and desires to be seen, appreciated, and loved and “heals” their villainous forms by turning them into normal human women. We see her nurturing others’ emotions despite them being her enemies, like in the example with Fish’s Eye. As we all know, in traditional womanhood, women are expected to nurture others and be kind even in the face of adversity.

Sailor Moon portrays this trope of femininity in several other arcs, including the Death Busters arc, where she trusts Sailor Saturn’s spirit despite her physical body being possessed by Mistress 9. She shows this innate sense of knowing that things will turn out right even if, at the moment, everything is going wrong. Further, she aims to protect Hotaru, although Uranus and Neptune are urging her not to. I think this is why Sailor Moon is a timeless unmatched character—because she trusts her heart, not always her mind. Her nurturing nature becomes gallantry and saves the day in this one.

How Sailor Moon Uses her Femininity as her Power

Our fave magical girl utilizes her femininity as a strength, always. Her attacks and how she takes down the enemy is never in a way that overtly violates their space. Meaning, the pretty guardian doesn’t use physical combat to defeat her enemies. Instead, she uses powerful attacks that are overtly feminine and relate to emotions like “Moon Princess Halation,” “Rainbow Moon Heartache,” and “Moon Gorgeous Meditation.” What do these attacks represent? Healing, love, and self-reflection, which are all connected to human emotions.

In Sailor Moon’s case, she prefers to use emotion as her greatest weapon in unity with her powerful attacks. She uses her heart to guide her. Often in superhero epics, utilizing the heart rather than the mind as a guide represents weakness and foolishness. Still, brute strength is not always what defeats foes, but the appeal to emotion.

Final Thoughts in the Name of The Moon

Sailor Moon’s character uses so many tropes of femininity like nurture, kindness, and emotion as a source of power in defeating enemies.

As a superhero, Sailor Moon is atypical because she acknowledges her femininity. Her character does not conceal her girlhood or womanhood to develop as a strong heroine. Her strength, like so many of us, exudes from her feminine energy, so don’t be afraid to be a “typical girl.” It doesn’t make you any less powerful. It is your superpower.

What are some other tropes of femininity you see present in Sailor Moon’s character?

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