In anticipation for Sailor Moon Crystal, I spent the first half of this year methodically working my way through the entirety of the original ’90s series (and by “methodically,” I mean I livetweeted screencaps and dumb jokes). I had fun revisiting one of my first exposures to anime (watched every morning in tandem with Pokemon), and it was educational to observe the budding peculiarities of staff members who went on to create some of my favorite shows (e.g. Kunihiko Ikuhara’s directing style and sense of humor, Yoji Enokido’s obsession with the gap between childhood and adulthood, etc.). Despite its formulaic structure, it holds up as a genuinely good kids’ show with an entertaining cast of characters, the overwhelming majority of whom are girls with a diverse collection of interests and responsibilities who nevertheless find the time to save the world and protect people’s dreams. But another area in which Sailor Moon succeeds, and which I did not expect to appreciate as much as I did, is as a repository for some brilliant displays of fashion sense. Unlike other shows, which often have characters cycle between the same few getups, the Sailor Scouts like to appear in new, elaborate, and exciting arrays of clothing and accessories. I don’t know the reason why–maybe Naoko Takeuchi did the same in the source manga, maybe they had some people on staff who enjoyed doing it, or maybe they figured the girls watching the show would enjoy the small focus on fashion potentials–but it’s something that I, as a male in my mid-twenties watching a two-decades-old show made for little girls, got a big kick out of.
As an example, let’s look at episode 152 of the series, which takes place in the middle of the fourth season Super S. I’ll begin by saying that I haven’t had any training in fashion, I don’t know any of the terminology, and I am in no position to be writing a post like this. I can only point out what I like, and boy, there is a lot of stuff I like in this episode.
1) Usagi. With the big “P” on her shirt, I can only assume that Usagi is repping for some unspecified high school sports team that is never once mentioned in the show. Maybe she rescued it from a thrift store? Who knows. But I like how her whole ensemble is built around this two-toned shirt. The dark red of the torso is matched by the bows in her hair, and the goldenrod arms and v-neck collar are complemented by the yellow suspenders (not to mention her blonde hair). Her shorts are comparatively plain–off white and with almost no adornments–but by not distracting they help reinforce the focus of the piece. I just love the suspenders so much, and combined with this cheerleader-style shirt it’s the kind of outfit you’d expect to come out of a show set in the ’90s, and exactly the kind of outfit the bubbly Usagi would choose to wear. Not complex or flashy, but a solid choice for our lead character.
2) Chibi-usa. Not to be outdone by her future mother, Chibi-usa also matches her ensemble to her hair, letting the bold and bright pink speak for itself. When I saw her early in the episode (see Figure 1), I thought she also chose to wear suspenders, which would have been cute as hell. The truth, however, is no less adorable, as Figure 2 reveals a pair of light pink overalls with a bunny silhouette on the side. What more do you need? And Chibi-usa, seemingly knowing this, keeps the rest of her clothing simple, although I like layering the back t-shirt over her long-sleeved blue shirt. The red trim on her collar and sleeves is also a nice touch. It’s a cute outfit, befitting of the young Chibi-Usa.
3) Minako. Now we’re getting into the good stuff, because holy shit, look at Minako. Those retro plaid puffy shorts belong to some indeterminate time period in some parallel dimension. Not one but two red bowties keep her shirt in check, and red stockings (see Figure 2) complete the bottom half of her look. The red jacket is particularly inspired, with its frilly cuffs and a cravat-like collar. All of this, of course, matches perfectly with her blonde hair its red bow, maintaining the warm color palette and functioning as a neat counterpart to Usagi’s getup (especially noticeable in Figure 3). It’s loud and flamboyant, and I like to imagine Minako is trying to infiltrate a community of Tudor-era-loving hipsters in order to win the heart of a bishounen version of Henry VIII. Hey, it could have been an episode. Ikuhara would have made it happen.
4) Ami. By comparison, Ami’s outfit seems more reserved, but far from boring! The teal jacket’s cut and collar reminds me of schoogirl dresses from the late nineteenth century–very Little House on the Prairie. The jet-black pockets and their bright gold buttons, however, give the jacket a bold, distinct look that seeks to stand out rather than blend in with the crowd at a one-room schoolhouse. This is further emphasized by the similarly black collar and its frills. The matching skirt keeps the ensemble grounded, and the beret is a fitting accessory. Really, it’s the perfect outfit for Ami–at a glance just a quiet bookworm, but possessing just as much character and strength as the rest of the Scouts.
5) Makoto. Finally, Makoto. Makoto, Makoto, Makoto. She is all business in this outfit. I think she’s wearing a striped men’s dress shirt with turnback cuffs, which is in itself amazing, but that’s the just the start. There’s also the matching sweater vest, the simple business skirt, the black thigh-high stockings, and the magenta tie that for me is the focus of the entire collection. She looks like she should be kicking ass and taking names in front of a PowerPoint presentation at the top of a very large and important building, but instead she’s just out with her friends on an Autumn day. It’s the visual definition of class, and I would leave it to none other but the tall, tomboyish Makoto to take these men’s clothes and incorporate them into an outfit this stunning. (bonus points: notice her matching hairpins in Figure 2.)
Regrettably, Rei only appears in her shrine maiden clothing this episode (although we do get a fun scene compiling her many career aspirations), but Rei’s A game is on par with anything you see above, so none of the Scouts end up slacking in the fashion department. In fact, one of the things I’m most unironically looking forward to in Sailor Moon Crystal is seeing what kind of fashion choices this new team will make. Fashion is an ever-changing, ever-expanding world, and there’s no reason why Crystal can’t cover different ground while staying as fresh as the old guard I just spent an entire post highlighting. Truly, anime is an incredible medium.
If you have any favorite Sailor Moon fashion moments, let me know in the comments!