Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Lack of Hype

The new Sailor Moon series, set to be a more faithful adaptation of Naoko Takeuchi's manga series has been announced to begin airing worldwide simultaneously on Niconico Douga in July of this year. It's going to be animated by Toei, which I guess they have the money if not the talent to pull off the show, and it seems like my little section of the anime community has been powering itself solely off the hype of the return of this much beloved series. I, on the other hand have spent the last year being a buzzkill and I'm not entirely sure why.

You see, though I've never read the manga and I didn't participate in the great Sailor Moon anime re-watch of the past few years, I completely fit the bill as someone who'd be geeked for the premiere. In the 90s while in primary school I would make sure to get dressed early enough so that we could catch an episode before we had to leave. I had the theme song memorized as well as that silly little speech Serena recited after transforming that I couldn't believe the enemies sat through. When I got to high school and we started seeing Cartoon Network's promos for the "lost" episodes, my friends and I could barely contain our excitement and when they finally started to air, Sailor Moon had its place in our weekly discussions along with Playstation vs. Nintendo 64.

Though finally seeing these episodes I'd previously had no access to didn't thrill me as much as I thought they would have. Maybe it was because I'd already seen the Sailor Moon & the Seven Ballz parody thanks to the boys in my grade, because I'd already heard about these episodes and how they would predictably be censored by friends or maybe because ultimately Sailor fucking Mini Moon made me want to drive pencils into my eyeballs, I'm not sure. By the time I was sixteen years old and about to graduate high school, Sailor Moon wasn't anything more to me than another cartoon.

I get why it's more to the people celebrating its return. For one, there's a pretty competently told story in there where a group of girls got to kick ass, take names, and be friends without being dicks to each other constantly, and we still don't see much of that on TV, though we did eventually get the Powerpuff Girls. It was one of the first series I can think of that positively portrayed a lesbian couple, though since it was the 90s and parents were dicks they were "cousins" in the US version, though nothing about that explanation ever made sense. And in that sense, it absolutely should return, not least of which because it will ensure that Naoko Takeuchi's children will live a privileged life and likely never have to work a single day. And of course, neither will her husband.

This is where the jokes come in. Her husband is Yoshihiro Togashi, author of such works as YuYu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter, the latter of which I do a podcast on. Hunter x Hunter recently was blessed with the same sort of revival Sailor Moon will see this year when in 2011 Studio Madhouse began animating the series from the beginning, hoping to adhere more closely to the manga than the original did. He is notorious for taking long hiatuses from his work for a myriad of rumored reasons including: sickness, laziness, and a conspiracy to make sure Shonen Jump never relies so much on his manga that he gets overworked. Eventually the joke became that he's never motivated because his wife has already made so much bank (and he has as well) that he doesn't have to work. With the reprinting of Sailor Moon's manga in English and reports of how well it was selling, that became all too clear. And so I began jokingly admonishing people not to buy anything Sailor Moon related for the next two years so we could at least get another arc of Hunter x Hunter.

None of my friends want me to have nice things.

I don't hate Sailor Moon, though I did dislike most of the cast. In fact, Sailor Jupiter (I only halfway liked Rei) was the first time I can vividly remember connecting with a female cartoon character, as I often suffered then the dual needling for both being a nerd and a tomboy, and I still occasionally get shit about it by people who can't reconcile both parts of my identity. I do think that the show had a positive impact on my life and my style of writing that I can't really measure and didn't realize until I was already an adult. I don't actually believe that if this revival of Sailor Moon failed (which is looking pretty impossible) that Togashi would start writing again. He's proven that he works when he wants to, and only then.

I think I'm just surprised that this show meant so much to so many people who I never would've thought would be into it, or into anime. And that's overwhelming, in a good way. I'm always glad to see people's passion, it just weirds me out sometimes when people discuss how a cartoon changed their lives, or saved them. This is a function of how my mind works, and it's what made me want to run and hide the first time I went to an anime convention.

I'm not nostalgic for it in the same way I wouldn't get excited for the return of Mighty Max.

I hope Toei does right by everyone, but I'd warn you to keep your hopes at an acceptably low level, I just don't want to hear about the show. Ever. And I will adjust my filters accordingly.

PS. I would fight all of you for a second chance at a Gargoyles cartoon.
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