Sailor Moon was the first Magical Girl Deconstruction

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Jun 17, 2019
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#1
At least the manga is. I know how everyone likes to talk about Madoka being the first deconstruction of it's kind but I feel Sailor Moon long proceeded it. Everything that's revealed in the Stars arc at the end of the manga about all the characters fates that they'll never be able to escape is downright depressing. The ending itself is bittersweet at best and tragic at worst. The whole concept of Chaos and the Galaxy Cauldron is basically proto-Entropy as well.

By the end of the manga you don't leave away with a sense that these girls gained something by being Magical Girls, you leave with the sense that it's made their lives objectively worse. They are forever beholden to their duties as Sailor Crystal carriers and can't even escape their fate after death, since as Sailor Crystal carriers they'll continue to endlessly reincarnate repeating the same cycle of fighting again and again.

Mamoru and Usagi are to forever be stuck together because they are the keepers of both the Silver and Golden Crystals and so they're naturally drawn together.
The Inners will never be able to pursue their dreams and the Outers will never be able to live as a peaceful happy Outers family because they will always be Senshi at their core.

Sailor Moon is a grim and bleak take on the Magical Girl genre and I really hate that only Madoka only ever gets credit or acknowledgement for this. Don't get me wrong it's a good anime but Sailor Moon started this whole "being a Magical Girl is suffering" concept first.

The Live Action, while having a happy ending is also similarly depressing and plays around with how horrifying it is that these identities from the past are trying to consume these girls whole and wiping out their present identities, make no mistake PGSM dives deep into the repercussions of having a past life and destiny thrust upon you and I [BLEEP]ing love it for it!

Even the 90's anime, though it eventually plays it straight in later seasons plays around with this idea in the first season at least. By the end of the DK arc Usagi has the realization that she, the girls and Mamoru were honestly better off before all this Magical Girl and past life business entered their lives and makes a wish that they could all be free from it. The ending also ends on a sort of bittersweet note but I personally find it the happiest ending of the series since everyone really and truly is free from the past and allowed to create their own destinies and live as normal human beings.

What do you all think? Was Sailor Moon the first Magical Girl deconstruction series or not? I think Naoko clearly intended it to be what with her notes on how she wanted the series to originally end, the Stars arc and it's ending (in the manga) I feel was basically a "[BLEEP] you!" to how Toei eventually tried to play the series straight.
 
May 18, 2016
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#2
At least the manga is. I know how everyone likes to talk about Madoka being the first deconstruction of it's kind but I feel Sailor Moon long proceeded it. Everything that's revealed in the Stars arc at the end of the manga about all the characters fates that they'll never be able to escape is downright depressing. The ending itself is bittersweet at best and tragic at worst. The whole concept of Chaos and the Galaxy Cauldron is basically proto-Entropy as well.

By the end of the manga you don't leave away with a sense that these girls gained something by being Magical Girls, you leave with the sense that it's made their lives objectively worse. They are forever beholden to their duties as Sailor Crystal carriers and can't even escape their fate after death, since as Sailor Crystal carriers they'll continue to endlessly reincarnate repeating the same cycle of fighting again and again.

Mamoru and Usagi are to forever be stuck together because they are the keepers of both the Silver and Golden Crystals and so they're naturally drawn together.
The Inners will never be able to pursue their dreams and the Outers will never be able to live as a peaceful happy Outers family because they will always be Senshi at their core.

Sailor Moon is a grim and bleak take on the Magical Girl genre and I really hate that only Madoka only ever gets credit or acknowledgement for this. Don't get me wrong it's a good anime but Sailor Moon started this whole "being a Magical Girl is suffering" concept first.

The Live Action, while having a happy ending is also similarly depressing and plays around with how horrifying it is that these identities from the past are trying to consume these girls whole and wiping out their present identities, make no mistake PGSM dives deep into the repercussions of having a past life and destiny thrust upon you and I [BLEEP]ing love it for it!

Even the 90's anime, though it eventually plays it straight in later seasons plays around with this idea in the first season at least. By the end of the DK arc Usagi has the realization that she, the girls and Mamoru were honestly better off before all this Magical Girl and past life business entered their lives and makes a wish that they could all be free from it. The ending also ends on a sort of bittersweet note but I personally find it the happiest ending of the series since everyone really and truly is free from the past and allowed to create their own destinies and live as normal human beings.

What do you all think? Was Sailor Moon the first Magical Girl deconstruction series or not? I think Naoko clearly intended it to be what with her notes on how she wanted the series to originally end, the Stars arc and it's ending (in the manga) I feel was basically a "[BLEEP] you!" to how Toei eventually tried to play the series straight.
I can agree on that. IMO Madoka is so overrated from what I've glimpsed at it...
 

blondibear_17

Luna Crescens
Mar 3, 2017
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I don't even know what a deconstruction is at this point so I couldn't argue that it is or isn't. People for example argue that Hunter X Hunter is a deconstruction of shonen battle manga but a lot more people argue that it's not and that it's just an example of a shonen manga done really well that takes it's self seriously. In any case I watched Madoka Magica all the way through for the first time probably last year and while I thought it was a really interesting concept and that the animation was really beautiful it was really really underwhelming in my opinion. Madoka was not a fleshed out character and the ending was unbelievably stupid.
 
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#5
There were shows even before Sailor Moon that can be perceived as deconstruction. Yes Sailor Moon started the girl team trend, but wasn't the only one to go sad when needed. Minkey Momo is a good example of deconstruction and it was waay before Sailor Moon
 

rgveda99

Lumen Cinereum
Jul 5, 2009
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#6
I can agree on that. IMO Madoka is so overrated from what I've glimpsed at it...
This backlash is kind of similar to 90's Final Fantasy 7.

In any case I watched Madoka Magica all the way through for the first time probably last year and while I thought it was a really interesting concept and that the animation was really beautiful it was really really underwhelming in my opinion. Madoka was not a fleshed out character and the ending was unbelievably stupid.
Thanks for pointing that out. I was always curious why anime fans seem to love this series to death. Looks like everyone who watched it that time was under the bandwagon effect. Read enough spoilers here too for me to lose interest anyway. Now I can just truly pass off this series and move on with My Hero Academia which currently at the moment I'm only interested in. That or the rumored season 3 of Log Horizon and hopefully the Crystal movies.
 
Likes: blondibear_17

Umino

Lumen Cinereum
Jun 6, 2006
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#7
Since I'm bored at work and half awake...

At least the manga is. I know how everyone likes to talk about Madoka being the first deconstruction of it's kind but I feel Sailor Moon long proceeded it. Everything that's revealed in the Stars arc at the end of the manga about all the characters fates that they'll never be able to escape is downright depressing. The ending itself is bittersweet at best and tragic at worst. The whole concept of Chaos and the Galaxy Cauldron is basically proto-Entropy as well.
Here's the thing, the original magical girl series Toei put out in the 60's/70's all had very bittersweet endings. None of them completely had a happy ending. Usually the heroine would have to leave the human world/lose her friends/lose her powers/etc. If anything, Sailor Moon had a very happy ending, with Usagi surrounded by all her friends and finally getting married.

It's a common narrative for a heroine to endure a lot of suffering. You see it a lot in shoujo series, and magical girl stuff is no different. Watch Sasurai no Taiyo, Rose of Versailles, or Candy Candy. Sailor Moon doesn't have it as bad.

Also, most magical girl series represent that struggles of growing up and maturing. For example, Mahoutsukai Chappy ends with the title character accidentally revealing her powers to her friends. Her and her family are forced to move to a new town, while the King of Witches erases her friends' memories. The ending is bittersweet because she loses her friends, but knows she'll make new ones after she moves. The idea of moving and having to make new friends is something most children have/will experience.

By the end of the manga you don't leave away with a sense that these girls gained something by being Magical Girls, you leave with the sense that it's made their lives objectively worse. They are forever beholden to their duties as Sailor Crystal carriers and can't even escape their fate after death, since as Sailor Crystal carriers they'll continue to endlessly reincarnate repeating the same cycle of fighting again and again.
The same could be said about Cutie Honey, an immortal android, who's fated to fight Panther Claw forever.
 

MementoNepenthe

Aurorae Lunares
Mar 8, 2012
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#8
Not only does Sailor Moon end with Usagi married and surrounded by her allies but not her family, cats, or civilian friends, it ends with her pregnant and about to become queen, fully understanding her destiny is to keep fighting and being okay with that, her future-most self (Sailor Cosmos) having her hopes and will to keep fighting restored, and with it well-established that no matter how many times Usagi's loved ones may die, thanks to the Galaxy Cauldron, their star seeds will simply be reborn over and over and over again. Her future may contain some struggles, but ultimately it's pretty much impossible that she'll ever truly lose the people she cares about, and there's still hope that her battles will one day come to an end once and for all.

Naoko has spoken about loving dark stories and wanting to give the manga darker themes and darker endings, but her editors ultimately intervened and steered her in a different direction. As it stands, the manga has a pretty happy, optimistic ending. And in that way, perhaps it is a subversion/deconstruction of the magical girl genre.
 
Jun 30, 2010
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#10
By the end of the manga you don't leave away with a sense that these girls gained something by being Magical Girls, you leave with the sense that it's made their lives objectively worse. They are forever beholden to their duties as Sailor Crystal carriers and can't even escape their fate after death, since as Sailor Crystal carriers they'll continue to endlessly reincarnate repeating the same cycle of fighting again and again.
An alternate way of looking at it is they get the treasure of experiencing life over and over again, while the rest of us measly mortals die and completely cease to exist. That might be fine if you had a nice life, but if it was awful, you don't get another chance.

Mamoru and Usagi are to forever be stuck together because they are the keepers of both the Silver and Golden Crystals and so they're naturally drawn together.
Or, alternately, neither will ever be alone in their immortality. That's about as happy as you can get.

The Inners will never be able to pursue their dreams and the Outers will never be able to live as a peaceful happy Outers family because they will always be Senshi at their core.
Is this really any different than any other superhero? Besides, there is nothing saying they can't pursue new dreams if the old ones prove to be unreachable.

Sailor Moon is a grim and bleak take on the Magical Girl genre and I really hate that only Madoka only ever gets credit or acknowledgement for this. Don't get me wrong it's a good anime but Sailor Moon started this whole "being a Magical Girl is suffering" concept first.
Madoka is more than "being a Magical Girl is suffering."

Madoka completely deconstructs anything about being a magical girl. At first, it deconstructs the idea that it is a burden, because not only do you get magical powers and fight Witches...you get your very own wish as an advance payment. Then, whereas Sailor Moon shows how when you go deeper into the rabbit hole, the more wondrous the universe gets (you're not just a magical girl, you're a magical princess, and you're fighting for galactic good that aligns with your personal good), Madoka shows how it's too good to be true and how it gets worse than you imagine. Sailor Moon is about becoming a superhero and growing up. Madoka is about being careful what you wish for and the dark side of unrequited love.

The Live Action, while having a happy ending is also similarly depressing and plays around with how horrifying it is that these identities from the past are trying to consume these girls whole and wiping out their present identities, make no mistake PGSM dives deep into the repercussions of having a past life and destiny thrust upon you and I [BLEEP]ing love it for it!
I love that plot point, although I wish it could have dug a little deeper into it. However, in the end, PGSM is the most emphatic about refuting the idea that the past must determine destiny, as it is the friendships Usagi made throughout the series that literally brings her back. Ultimately, Serenity's soul remnants are dispersed.

Even the 90's anime, though it eventually plays it straight in later seasons plays around with this idea in the first season at least. By the end of the DK arc Usagi has the realization that she, the girls and Mamoru were honestly better off before all this Magical Girl and past life business entered their lives and makes a wish that they could all be free from it. The ending also ends on a sort of bittersweet note but I personally find it the happiest ending of the series since everyone really and truly is free from the past and allowed to create their own destinies and live as normal human beings.
Except they really aren't free to create their destinies, because as you mentioned, Usagi runs into Mamoru and it all begins all over again.

What do you all think? Was Sailor Moon the first Magical Girl deconstruction series or not? I think Naoko clearly intended it to be what with her notes on how she wanted the series to originally end, the Stars arc and it's ending (in the manga) I feel was basically a "[BLEEP] you!" to how Toei eventually tried to play the series straight.
Again, the end of Sailor Moon, while it can be taken at a bittersweet one if you believer that Sailor Moon being destined to fight Chaos over and over again is a horrible fate, can also be taken more positively as the idea that the battle will continue, but you must not lose hope, as there will be happiness.
 
Jun 17, 2019
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#12
I don't even know what a deconstruction is at this point so I couldn't argue that it is or isn't. People for example argue that Hunter X Hunter is a deconstruction of shonen battle manga but a lot more people argue that it's not and that it's just an example of a shonen manga done really well that takes it's self seriously. In any case I watched Madoka Magica all the way through for the first time probably last year and while I thought it was a really interesting concept and that the animation was really beautiful it was really really underwhelming in my opinion. Madoka was not a fleshed out character and the ending was unbelievably stupid.
A deconstruction is basically when you take common wish-fulfillment fantasy tropes and apply realistic consequences for it, showing that it's not all that's cracked up to be. I feel like Sailor Moon qualifies cause at the very least the manga and live action (and again, even the first season of the 90's anime) presents having these powers and being tied to this particular destiny as a burden and something bad. PGSM does a particularly splendid job deconstructing this with Minako's entire character arc as well as the whole Princess Sailor Moon business.

I like Madoka too and do think it's one of the best anime of the decade, but I also hate how it's fandom acts like it's the Second Coming of Serenity just because they assume that it's the first Magical Girl deconstruction when Sailor Moon proceeded it by almost 20 years!
 
Jun 17, 2019
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#13
There were shows even before Sailor Moon that can be perceived as deconstruction. Yes Sailor Moon started the girl team trend, but wasn't the only one to go sad when needed. Minkey Momo is a good example of deconstruction and it was waay before Sailor Moon
Since I'm bored at work and half awake...



Here's the thing, the original magical girl series Toei put out in the 60's/70's all had very bittersweet endings. None of them completely had a happy ending. Usually the heroine would have to leave the human world/lose her friends/lose her powers/etc. If anything, Sailor Moon had a very happy ending, with Usagi surrounded by all her friends and finally getting married.

It's a common narrative for a heroine to endure a lot of suffering. You see it a lot in shoujo series, and magical girl stuff is no different. Watch Sasurai no Taiyo, Rose of Versailles, or Candy Candy. Sailor Moon doesn't have it as bad.

Also, most magical girl series represent that struggles of growing up and maturing. For example, Mahoutsukai Chappy ends with the title character accidentally revealing her powers to her friends. Her and her family are forced to move to a new town, while the King of Witches erases her friends' memories. The ending is bittersweet because she loses her friends, but knows she'll make new ones after she moves. The idea of moving and having to make new friends is something most children have/will experience.



The same could be said about Cutie Honey, an immortal android, who's fated to fight Panther Claw forever.
(I love Candy Candy and Rose Of Versailles by the way, rare to hear of anyone having heard of them!) See, I'm an American that was born in 1992 so I never knew about most of these Magical Girl shows that proceeded Sailor Moon until now, thank you for telling me.

I heard of stuff like Mami, Momo, Sally and Cutie Honey but never knew they were deconstructive in nature. I was always under the impression that Magical Girls before SM were played entirely straight and that their powers were always presented as "cool" and "something you should want" until Naoko Takeuchi revolutionized the genre. Hmm perhaps I need to do more research.

But if that's the case shouldn't that make Madoka even more underwhelming since deconstruction has apparently been normal for the genre since it's beginnings? I suppose I could understand it being lauded as something revolutionary and different if Sailor Moon and Princess Tutu were the only Magical Girl deconstructions in existence, but to think that the genre had actually started out like that and yet Madoka is still named as the number 1 deconstruction of its kind? I don't get it, these series should get their dues for their deconstructive qualities too.
 
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#14
Not only does Sailor Moon end with Usagi married and surrounded by her allies but not her family, cats, or civilian friends, it ends with her pregnant and about to become queen, fully understanding her destiny is to keep fighting and being okay with that, her future-most self (Sailor Cosmos) having her hopes and will to keep fighting restored, and with it well-established that no matter how many times Usagi's loved ones may die, thanks to the Galaxy Cauldron, their star seeds will simply be reborn over and over and over again. Her future may contain some struggles, but ultimately it's pretty much impossible that she'll ever truly lose the people she cares about, and there's still hope that her battles will one day come to an end once and for all.

Naoko has spoken about loving dark stories and wanting to give the manga darker themes and darker endings, but her editors ultimately intervened and steered her in a different direction. As it stands, the manga has a pretty happy, optimistic ending. And in that way, perhaps it is a subversion/deconstruction of the magical girl genre.
You really didn't find the ending to the Stars manga incredibly tragic? These girls (+ Mamoru) have no hope of ever becoming normal human beings and living out there days in peace. They're destined to be trapped in an endless cycle of fighting and dying to help keep the universe in balance simply because they're Sailor Crystal carriers and that's what they were born to do. Be the physical embodiment of stars so as to protect all living life in the universe. They are spit out and manufactured by the Cauldron (Which is pretty much this universe's version of the Black Hole concept) like factory pieces and some of them aren't even so lucky to get "good" star seeds.

There's the concept of "reject" Senshi like Galaxia, Senshi that were always objectively worse off through no fault of their own because that was just the luck of the the draw and the Cauldron just happened to manufacture their Planet's Star Seeds as weak, unhealthy and underdeveloped. Senshi like Galaxia and the twins Lethe and Mnenosyne are the flip side of the coin of what happens when you're beholden to a system that spits out and manufactures planets/stars and their guardians like they're nothing but objects (this even helps Galaxia develop her beliefs that Senshi are worth nothing more than their Sailor Crystals) not everyone is able to be blessed with a super healthy star and potent Sailor Crystal, there does in fact exist, Senshi "rejects" and they absolutely live the most miserable lives possible, just look at how Galaxia describes her life on her planet! Yaten even dropped that little world-building tidbit strongly implies that that's what the whole Stars arc was meant to deal with, the concept of "reject senshi" and what happens to them.

And remember, the only alternative to this never-ending cycle of death, fighting and destiny is to destroy the Cauldron, the source of all life itself but then existence itself would cease to exist, so they really DON'T have a choice, not really. All they have to cling onto is those scant few moments as normal girls that they get to experience, but it's forever fleeting and then it's back to War! Those precious few moments are all they live for, but they'll never last, but hey at least it beats the universe ending am I right?

If you don't find the ending to the Stars arc as some real fridge horror stuff, then I don't know what to tell you.

Even Madoka ended on a somewhat hopeful and bittersweet tone, no one would ever dare to claim that automatically invalidates it as being a deconstruction.
 
Jun 17, 2019
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#15
I don't know...the manga's ending felt a bit esoteric to me for some reason.
How was it esoteric to you? In what way?


Dude, that's not even true that Madoka was the first mahou shoujo deconstruction. Even putting aside Sailor Moon -- Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructed shoujo anime LONG before Madoka came out. I like Madoka Magica, but I actually prefer Sailor Moon and Utena.
Utena is definitely a deconstruction, but more so of the shojo genre, fairytales and society as a whole. I'm in the minority that doesn't consider it a Magical Girl series though. It definitely has elements of one, but it's really more just pure shojo, Utena herself doesn't really have "magical powers" or a traditional transformation sequence.
 
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#16
An alternate way of looking at it is they get the treasure of experiencing life over and over again, while the rest of us measly mortals die and completely cease to exist. That might be fine if you had a nice life, but if it was awful, you don't get another chance.



Or, alternately, neither will ever be alone in their immortality. That's about as happy as you can get.



Is this really any different than any other superhero? Besides, there is nothing saying they can't pursue new dreams if the old ones prove to be unreachable.



Madoka is more than "being a Magical Girl is suffering."

Madoka completely deconstructs anything about being a magical girl. At first, it deconstructs the idea that it is a burden, because not only do you get magical powers and fight Witches...you get your very own wish as an advance payment. Then, whereas Sailor Moon shows how when you go deeper into the rabbit hole, the more wondrous the universe gets (you're not just a magical girl, you're a magical princess, and you're fighting for galactic good that aligns with your personal good), Madoka shows how it's too good to be true and how it gets worse than you imagine. Sailor Moon is about becoming a superhero and growing up. Madoka is about being careful what you wish for and the dark side of unrequited love.



I love that plot point, although I wish it could have dug a little deeper into it. However, in the end, PGSM is the most emphatic about refuting the idea that the past must determine destiny, as it is the friendships Usagi made throughout the series that literally brings her back. Ultimately, Serenity's soul remnants are dispersed.



Except they really aren't free to create their destinies, because as you mentioned, Usagi runs into Mamoru and it all begins all over again.



Again, the end of Sailor Moon, while it can be taken at a bittersweet one if you believer that Sailor Moon being destined to fight Chaos over and over again is a horrible fate, can also be taken more positively as the idea that the battle will continue, but you must not lose hope, as there will be happiness.
But their lives are destined to be just cogs acting in a Galaxy wide machine to help keep the universe in balance. They will continue to fight, continue to die and will never have free will, wash rinse and repeat. How does that sound like a good life to you? It sounds awful! And they can't even get a reprieve from it! They'll continue to repeat these awful lives over and over again because that's their duty as Guardians.


Usagi and Mamoru might never be alone but is it really happy if they never even got to choose each other? It's revealed in the Dream arc of the manga that they were basically always destined to come together because their two Crystals are connected (I like to headcanon that they and Lethe and Mnemosyne were originally part of one big Sailor Crystal/Star Seed/Planet that just accidentally split apart once they exited the Cauldron cause it was too big and powerful) is that really true love if they're just doing what the universe designed them to do? Granted, this could lead into a whole philosophical discussion on the value of free will and how essential it is to happiness and how it ties into what it means to be human but most people would agree that removing one's sense of free will removes all their humanity and dignity.

"Is this really any different than any other superhero? Besides, there is nothing saying they can't pursue new dreams if the old ones prove to be unreachable."

Most other superheroes aren't manufactured by a literal universal Black Hole to serve as physical manifestations of their planet's powers. Most other superheroes aren't stuck in an endless reincarnation cycle where they are destined to keep dying and fighting time and time again. Any new dreams the Senshi will pursue will have to take into account their duties as guardians and their never ending war with Chaos, the manga makes it very clear that their lives as normal civilian humans are fleeting. Heck, Crystal Tokyo's a thing and that future doesn't seem very happy to me (at least for the Inners and Outers) if you think really hard about it. The girls and Mamoru are no longer even called by their civilian names there, just their Senshi "titles!"

"Madoka is about being careful what you wish for and the dark side of unrequited love."

I would argue that the SM manga, live action and even the first season of the anime also centers around the "be careful what you wish for theme." Usagi originally thought it would be SO COOL if she could be like her hero Sailor V and be granted special powers. There's a certain element of glamour and mystique that's entrenched in this entire genre and attached to the status of "Magical Girl." By the end of the Dark Kingdom arc of the 90's anime Usagi finally learns that it ain't how it's all cracked up to be and even makes her own wish to reverse it all so she could go back to her normal, human existence, having finally learned her lesson to appreciate the little things in life and what she already has. Hell, Takeuchi wasn't even planning on letting the series end that happily, her original plan was to kill everyone off permanently so that it would be total repeat of their past and their efforts to change the course of fate proved futile! I feel the ending we eventually got for the manga definitely echoes Naoko's original sentiment for the series and how she was really trying to write a tragedy all along. You can see my other replies in this thread for my thoughts on Madoka itself.

"Except they really aren't free to create their destinies, because as you mentioned, Usagi runs into Mamoru and it all begins all over again."

Not really? I never got the sense that the original ending to the 90's anime was pushing Usagi and Mamoru together again. Moreso that now that they're free of the burden of the past they can finally meet and interact on their *own* terms, it was really meant to be all up to your interpretation whether they ended up getting together or not.

Glad we're in agreement on PGSM being the best iteration and execution of this concept though.
 
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#17
I will also agree that the 90’s anime have them a bit more freedom to choose their destinies. After SM first discovered she was the Moon princess in season 1, she didn’t want to fight anymore and don’t want her friends and loved ones getting hurt in the process of fighting off the Dark Kingdom. However, by the end of the season, while fighting off Queen Beryl, she reflected on her fellow Senshis’ sacrifice and didn’t want them to die in vain. This caused her to realize that fighting the enemy will help her to protect the ones she loves and decides to fight. I would also like to mention that Mamoru told Usagi to “ find a cool boyfriend and live a normal life”, allowing her to have the freedom of whether she wanted to be with him and continue the life of fighting off evil or not. She replies with “You’re the coolest Mamoru”, which proves that she willingly chooses him.

After she defeats Metallia +Beryl, she makes a wish for her and her friends to be normal again, and that’s what happens. They all went back to their normal school life routines, and Usagi and Mamoru are still drawn to tease/bicker with each other with everything erased.

Now I know that Usagi started to tear up after she was reawakened as SM in the first part of R, but afterwards, she went through a similar phase like the one she did in season one. At first, she didn’t want to fight or be forced back into the life of being a super heroine, but then throughout the season, we see her courage and will to fight increase in order to save her loved ones : her dad and brother in the VR episode, when she acquired her new locket and cutie moon rod for wanting to protect Luna and her friends, protecting Mamoru against Ail and En. We also see her become depressed in the beginning of the S season when she could no longer transform. It was a big deal to her, which is a big development from how she previously felt about this super heroine life, so I would definitely say she and the others did get to choose this life because they wanted to protect each other and all the innocent people around them.
 
Jun 30, 2010
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#18
I think I should stress that I like that you look at the series differently, as many of the people who look at the negative aspect of Sailor Moon stop far short of your analysis.

But their lives are destined to be just cogs acting in a Galaxy wide machine to help keep the universe in balance. They will continue to fight, continue to die and will never have free will, wash rinse and repeat. How does that sound like a good life to you?
Maybe we both define a good life differently.

You clearly value freedom as a priority, even greater than I do. For many people, though, to paraphrase Darius Foroux, the purpose in life is to be useful, not to be happy.

I know in your mind that sounds awful, and I agree it has its downs, but when you're looking at it from this perspective, then the whole idea of free will isn't as important as finding your place. But if you know what you were put here on this planet to do and can do it, there is a joy to be found in filling one's role that cannot be found in the chase of that goal.

Let me be clear, that's not my philosophy. Personally, I would much rather live a life, knowing I would be able to get to do it over again instead of one single crapshoot. I like living, and part of living is fighting. Being dead in a world without reincarnated sapience means you either lose everything that is to the point where you won't even remember existing (meaning the form you are in is fact you, even if your energy does carry over), or the afterlife is permanently locked away from life, be it amazing or awful. If an incarnation of life is like a change of clothes, then I'll just head into battle with a different uniform!

It sounds awful! And they can't even get a reprieve from it! They'll continue to repeat these awful lives over and over again because that's their duty as Guardians.
First of all their essence definitely resets once they die; it's essentially an anomaly that they retain fragments of their previous incarnations this time around. Even if you accept Usagi as Sailor Cosmos, it's clear these two are not the same "person."

Second, how are their lives awful? They're clearly comfortable, middle-class, and in the past life, they were royalty. They're pretty. They aren't abused. Even Mamoru, who lost his parents and some of his memories, gets to become the king of the world. Their lives are better than mine, and as a Westerner, my life is better than 99% of the people on this Earth. For all the people who have to fight, at least they have the comfort of winning some fights and losing some others. What about the multitudes who lived, got a sword or weapon put in their hand, fought then died on the battlefield? What about those slaughtered in their sleep? What about people who starved to death? Those are awful, awful fates; at least the Sailor Guardians are equipped for battle.

Usagi and Mamoru might never be alone but is it really happy if they never even got to choose each other? It's revealed in the Dream arc of the manga that they were basically always destined to come together because their two Crystals are connected (I like to headcanon that they and Lethe and Mnemosyne were originally part of one big Sailor Crystal/Star Seed/Planet that just accidentally split apart once they exited the Cauldron cause it was too big and powerful) is that really true love if they're just doing what the universe designed them to do? Granted, this could lead into a whole philosophical discussion on the value of free will and how essential it is to happiness and how it ties into what it means to be human but most people would agree that removing one's sense of free will removes all their humanity and dignity.
The problem with this is now you have to ask, "What is love and does love require choice?" That's a high-level philosophical question I don't have a comprehensive answer for. However, if you acknowledge there are different kinds of love you also have to acknowledge love doesn't necessitate choice. If you had a mother, you probably loved her, but did you choose to love her or was your love of her based on the fact that she happened to raise you and you imprinted on her?

Most other superheroes aren't manufactured by a literal universal Black Hole to serve as physical manifestations of their planet's powers. Most other superheroes aren't stuck in an endless reincarnation cycle where they are destined to keep dying and fighting time and time again. Any new dreams the Senshi will pursue will have to take into account their duties as guardians and their never ending war with Chaos, the manga makes it very clear that their lives as normal civilian humans are fleeting. Heck, Crystal Tokyo's a thing and that future doesn't seem very happy to me (at least for the Inners and Outers) if you think really hard about it. The girls and Mamoru are no longer even called by their civilian names there, just their Senshi "titles!"
If you've read comics in the past 20 years...the mainstream titles are going in a more mythic/cosmic direction in terms of storytelling, especially the heroes who are based on deities and steeped in mythology (Thor, Wonder Woman, etc).

Another way to look at the characters losing their civilian names is that it's the civilian life which is the punishment or aberration. Maybe the curse isn't to have to always fight another day, but to be forced into the world of the mundane and build a meaningless life when there is work to do.

And there is no evidence that they can't pursue any of their dreams. They just have to adjust. Sometimes life gives you a bad hand against your will. Does that mean you sink into madness and despair, or does that mean you dedicate your heart fighting the good fight within your limitations? That's one of the big differences between a hero and a villain.

I would argue that the SM manga, live action and even the first season of the anime also centers around the "be careful what you wish for theme." Usagi originally thought it would be SO COOL if she could be like her hero Sailor V and be granted special powers. There's a certain element of glamour and mystique that's entrenched in this entire genre and attached to the status of "Magical Girl." By the end of the Dark Kingdom arc of the 90's anime Usagi finally learns that it ain't how it's all cracked up to be and even makes her own wish to reverse it all so she could go back to her normal, human existence, having finally learned her lesson to appreciate the little things in life and what she already has. Hell, Takeuchi wasn't even planning on letting the series end that happily, her original plan was to kill everyone off permanently so that it would be total repeat of their past and their efforts to change the course of fate proved futile! I feel the ending we eventually got for the manga definitely echoes Naoko's original sentiment for the series and how she was really trying to write a tragedy all along. You can see my other replies in this thread for my thoughts on Madoka itself.
There are a few problems with this line of thinking.

First and foremost, unlike Madoka where most of the girls we saw had both a desire and a free choice to becoming magical girls, Sailor Moon is the only one who actually chose to fight in the manga and Classic. Everyone else was either forcibly awakened or awakened under duress. In PGSM, Ami didn't want to become a soldier (despite later being revealed to have daydreamed about it). There was some sort of inevitability about the girls becoming magical girls; either they would have awakened or they would have died. By framing their awakenings in this way, the element of choice and wishes are downplayed. You acknowledge this because you just admitted how Sailor Moon's life is a hamster wheel. However, if existence is a hamster wheel and there is no choice, one can't have a cautionary tale without choice.

While the Classic anime ended with a downbeat note, it's important to note that what makes everything in Sailor Moon's journey so unbearable to Usagi isn't the magical girl stuff; if you notice in later seasons when the present-day antics comprise nearly the entirety of their interactions there is much less superhero tension. This isn't Madoka where there's a price to be paid for just for being a magical girl.

Instead, what gives Sailor Moon its grimmer side is the reincarnation romance, which is tacked onto it as a backstory. But it's not an inherent part of being a magical girl. In fact, the key thing to keep in mind Sailor Moon was not a magical girl in her past life. This makes her go around different. That's what turns a tragedy into a comedy.


Not really? I never got the sense that the original ending to the 90's anime was pushing Usagi and Mamoru together again. Moreso that now that they're free of the burden of the past they can finally meet and interact on their *own* terms, it was really meant to be all up to your interpretation whether they ended up getting together or not.
That she bumped into Mamoru again at all is a heavy indication that things are going to play out in a similar, if non-supernatural way. As long as the two characters exist, they will be drawn to each other like a the positive end and a negative end of a magnet.
 
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I know you weren’t responding to me, but I would like to answer some of the things you pointed out.
“Does love require choice?”
No. We cannot choose who we fall in love with. If that were the case, then we’d be able to pick a person on the street and would be able to automatically love them just because we simply chose them to be the one we’re in love with. Thats why unrequited love exists, sometimes the love for someone is there and sometimes it’s just not there at all. It’s not that we’re trying not to like that person we rejected (cause even if you try hard not to like someone, if you do, you still will have feelings for them regardless of whether you want to or not), we just don’t have those same feelings.

Now loving someone may not be a choice, but deciding whether or not you’ll act on it, however, is. You can decide whether you want to be with that person or not, and as I pointed out in my previous comment, Usagi’s conversation with Mamoru showed that both of them weren’t letting their destinies determine whether they’ll be together or not. He gave her the choice to abandon this life of a heroine and just live normally with a normal boyfriend (which is not him since he’s TM/Endymion). Usagi chose Mamoru, cause in the end, that’s who she wanted to be with despite him not being normal. Her heart wants what it wants.

The fact that the two of them were still drawn to each other without the memories of being SM and TM along with being past lovers proves that two were naturally attracted to each other like they were before in the beginning of the Classic season. Whereas in SMC, Mamoru was only drawn to her because he recognized her from his dream and thought she looked like SM. This makes their main connection of being drawn to each other relate to the past instead of them just enjoying teasing and bickering with each other, which helps them to bond in their own way.
 
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Mamoru didn't recognize her from his dreams in Crystal nor manga, nor Classic. He had these dreams in the three versions of the story and in neither of them he recognized her. Whatever version of the story you take, he was drawn to her by invisible force. He might have guessed she was Sailor Moon, but he never knew who the girl in his dreams was. Not until he died and remembered his past life. Destiny plays part in the manga, 90s anime and Crystal in pretty much the same way. In the manga and Crystal Usagi had attraction to Mamoru before knowing his identity. In the 90s she became love sick only after his identity was revealed.