International Sailor Moon Day is coming up THIS SATURDAY on lead character Usagi’s birthday, June 30, as a celebration of Sailor Moon in all its forms. The popular, iconic franchise continues to be a part of the lives of so many people across the generational spectrum. The show’s different incarnations and rebirths have allowed it to gain new audiences every few years, and now that first group of ‘90s fans is even able to introduce their kids (if they chose to have them) to the series, or just grab some adult friends and convert them!
The event was started several years ago in New York as the brainchild of ultra Sailor Moon fan Lisa Terlato and has since been passed to others. A precursor to what the day would become took place in Central Park.
Soon, a New York studio would host the first International Sailor Moon Day sending out a livestream featuring fan discussions, a Sailor Moon dance group “Senshi Generation,” and a cosplay contest. The New York flagship would inspire gatherings in other cities across North America and the world!
As the years went by, the Sailor Moon hotbed of Toronto gained its own event, and in L.A. former Project Runway competitor, Carrie Sleutskaya, organized a special night last year. In addition to U.S. and Canada-based gatherings, South America has been especially fond of the phenomenon. International Sailor Moon Day’s Facebook page has a link to known events happening either on the day or around it, some cities kick things off earlier or later. The related Sailor Moon Meetup facebook group also provides an ongoing place for fans to setup gatherings.
For me, an event like this is a long time coming. After stumbling onto the DiC dub in the late nineties, when it was still in syndication, the show has been a major part of my life as many friendships have stemmed from either the show itself, or due to Sailor Moon being the gateway to anime in general. When the DiC dub came out I was still in high school, and the internet was still something people were just beginning to get on to, using dial-up. While many of the guys were being drawn into Dragon Ball Z, I was silently growing obsessed with the “show meant for girls.” But over time my fandom opened a lot of doors eventually meeting like minded people, including some in unlikely places. Needless to say the early isolation made the value of fan gatherings very apparent very quickly.
For longtime fans, the show came and went, first vanishing off U.S. television even as we learned there were more seasons in Japan. In the days before really fast internet, subscription video sites and even free video portals, it was a lot harder to get and share anime. Yet the fandom grew all the the same, with fan-works and fan communities filling the void. The show’s eventual return, this time on Cartoon Network, enticed even more fans as many today note the show’s run then was what brought them on board. Four seasons of the subtitled Japanese version were released commercially as well, before the licenses dried up and the show disappeared again in the U.S. and Canada. With the exception of the live action Sailor Moon series and Seramyu musicals, no new content appeared and the older content grew harder to locate for a years on end.
Merchandise was also not licensed during this period. It should be noted though the show did continue to be available in other countries. As a host of a Sailor Moon panel at cons, we used to just speak in terms of not knowing what would happen but urging people to keep the flame alive. There were some years where we weren’t sure if the show would fade away for good. We all could have used an International Sailor Moon Day back then certainly.
While every fandom has its problems, Sailor Moon has been able to bring many people together through their shared appreciation for the work and the themes surrounding it. Sailor Moon, which features a group of friends assembled in an unlikely way to do great things, has likely produced the same outcome among the fans supporting it. To have events which can harness and centralize that fandom together is a great development whether it be International Sailor Moon Day, or the various fan gatherings at cons, and elsewhere. It is heartening to see the fandom didn’t die and now it is thriving.
Of course in 2018, the entire series is being released, the movies too, the new anime Sailor Moon Crystal, and new musicals are coming out at various schedules. A day to celebrate Sailor Moon comes at a great time where fans can engage with all the content, but also celebrate how we got here. Sailor Moon podcasts like Sailor Business and Love & Justice often delve into the fascinating histories their hosts and guests have with the program, and often the show ties in to where they have ended up now. Many Sailor Moon fanfiction writers and fan artists went on to create original works. Several of these series are magical girl based themselves such as Zodiac Starforce, Mahou Josei Chimaka, and Agents of the Realm to name just a few.
Other creators have slipped references into existing franchises. Others even still even have founded companies dedicated to content production like Sparkler Monthly or have used their fandom at jobs in the industry like at Viz. As for me, I slipped some Sailor Moon references into my coverage of the National Women’s Hockey League and it was well received. Though that was only inspired by the Sailor V cosplayer who attend a game around Halloween. Sailor Moon fans are everywhere! There have even been numerous Sailor Moon-inspired protest signs within the resistance.
It is also a fitting tribute to the show that one person, could spark an idea that spread this far, both in terms of Sailor Moon as a franchise, and International Sailor Moon Day in honor of it. One gathering in Central Park has led to so many elsewhere. As we have seen in the show itself, the heroine, aided by her friends, stood against the evils of the universe with her strong will and changed things for the better. It is clear that the fandom often embodies that spirit, as does International Sailor Moon Day.
Featured image credit: Toei Animation