Five Sailor Scouts, or 'Seru Senshi'.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Kodansha Ltd.
First appeared: 1992
Creator: Naoko Takeuchi
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Sailor Moon, which is known in America as a stand-alone cartoon that comes from Japan, started out as a very early spin-off of something else. It's as if Jughead became popular in another country, halfway around the world, to the point where people in that country were scarcely if at all aware that it started out as a spin-off from Archie. Sailor Moon began soon after, and as an attempt to …

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… expand the franchise of the superhero series Kodo Nemu wa Sera Bui, which means "Codename Sailor V". Sailor V (for "Venus") was soon relegated to the status of one of several supporting characters, named after various planets of the Solar System (e.g., Sailor Mercury, Sailor Jupiter), in the series Bishojo Senshi Sera Mun (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon). The word "sailor" as used here doesn't refer to people "sailing" around from one place to another, but to the fact that most young Japanese girls wear school uniforms patterned after outfits formerly worn by members of the British Navy.

Both "Sailor" series were created by cartoonist Naoko Takeuchi for Run Run magazine, published by Kodansha Ltd., the manga producer that's also responsible for Akira, which has been adapted into American form by Marvel Comics. Both ran as comics in 1992, before being produced as animé by Toei Animation (Captain Harlock).

The first was part of the popular but fading genre of "magical girls," which is characterized by young ladies who come into possession of artifacts which enable them to combat evil using special powers and enchantments. When the decision was made to make her part of the group, the new series that resulted took on additional elements of sentai, or superhero groups, in which an extraterrestrial menace is thwarted by a team of heroes made especially for that purpose. An example of a sentai team that's become popular in the U.S. is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Sera Mun (which sounds similar to "Sailor Moon", but with the Japanese style of pronunciation) was a girl in her early teens, named Usagi Tsukino (no relation). Her name is usually given as "Serena" in America, but she's sometimes nicknamed "Bunny". (The word "Usagi" means "rabbit" in Japanese.) Sailor V is an older girl named Minako Aino ("Mina" in English). Others are known collectively as Sera Senshi ("Sailor Soldiers"), or as usually rendered in English-language versions, Sailor Scouts (no relation).

Usagi was an ordinary middle school student — or thought she was — until a talking cat named Luna alerted her to the fact that the world was in danger from the forces of The Dark Kingdom, which had attacked once before in the distant past, when they'd destroyed the Kingdom of the Moon. Fortunately, as the reincarnation of Queen Serenity, she had the power to mount an effective opposition to their evil plans. The main storyline concerned the gathering of her allies in the struggle against The Dark Kingdom, as she gradually became aware of her own true identity and heritage.

The American version of the Sailor Moon cartoon was adapted by DiC Enterprises (Captain Planet). It debuted in syndication on September 11, 1995. The main character's voice was done by Terri Hawkes (Shreeky Bear). Luna was Jill Frappier (also heard in Hello Kitty). Other Sailor Scouts included Barbara Radecki (mostly a face actress), Susan Roman (Hannah in Cadillacs & Dinosaurs) and Stephanie Morgenstern (Ladybug in Miss Spider).

Sailor Moon's story is complete, The Dark Kingdom's plans apparently successfully thwarted. But reruns can still be seen in various parts of the world.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Osamu Tezuka estate.