On the importance of Magical Girl Heroines & Weaponized Femininity:
Let me start by saying that officially speaking, Sailor Moon is older than I am. I started watching while living in Singapore while I was four, so I definitely came in around the end of Sailor Moon R and watched Sailor Moon S despite the fact that it was played in Japanese with Chinese subtitles. When I moved back to the States, Sailor Moon started being released and aired in sub and dub form and being young and happy to actually hear a language I understood with a show I already liked, I watched the dubs. They’re not the shining star of any animated dub, but I went back several times as I got older, and rewatched the series, in dubs, in subs, all 200 episodes. I changed my self-identified scout, I understood what got cut out of the show, what was censored, I went back and relived my crush on Tuxedo Mask again…and again. In terms of “formative media” Sailor Moon is probably near the top of the list. I still have the sticker book I had when I was 5/6 that has a page dedicated to these magical girls, and they’ve been with me a lot longer than almost anything else, including Harry Potter, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and most other narratives, superhero, fantasy, or otherwise.
When I got the chance last year, I showed one of my girl cousins (who was twelve) the first episode of Sailor Moon. She came back to me about a week or so later and was maybe thirty episodes into the series, bursting with excitement over everything and every one.
I stopped to think about how much that meant to me. Then I thought a little harder. One of my best friends gave me an opportunity to cosplay as Sailor Scouts, and I leapt at the chance. I accidentally stumbled across the newer series Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and marathoned all twelve episodes. Then I made my best friend watch it.
Why does Mahou Shoujo stick with us? The show I loved when I was six is something I love when I’m twenty, and something my cousin who is a tween also loves. For that matter, Puella Magi is, essentially, an update of the classic Magical Girl story, with some genre subversions thrown in. What makes magical girls so important?