Happy Pride! This month, Geek Gals is presenting a series on sapphic icons in anime for #WomanCrushWednesday. For the first three weeks, we’ll highlight a character that our writer picks. Then, for the last week, we’ll take fan submissions and ask what your #WCW are!
This week, we’re taking on a heavy hitter: Haruka Tenou.
Haruka first appears in season three of Sailor Moon. For the majority of the show, Haruka wears a masculine version of her school’s uniform. In fact, for most of her first episode, Usagi and Minako refer to Haruka with masculine pronouns. Both girls instantly form a crush and call her “the most gorgeous man” they’ve ever seen.
Except Haruka is not a man.
At the end of the episode, Haruka reveals her gender when she removes her uniform jacket. Minako and Usagi are confused by this, while Michiru Kaiou, Haruka’s partner, is amused. Throughout the episode and series, Haruka still flirts with Usagi and Minako, though jokingly. While Michiru says she’s not Haruka’s girlfriend, the two are shown to be a couple and their relationship is clearly romantic.
A few episodes later the couple gets a backstory. Michiru was the one to awake Haruka’s powers. The episode evoked a sense of nostalgia in me, and not because of Sailor Moon. (I admit, shamefully, that I only recently started watching Sailor Moon, #fakefan.) The episode so perfectly portrays the feeling of a first crush. The couple literally drives off into the sunset in the most unsubtle move in anime history.
For many young anime watchers, this was the first same-sex couple they saw on screen. American viewers may remember the two were called “cousins” in the original dub. The change from girlfriends to cousins has been a controversial one. VIZ media obtained the rights to the series in 2014. When they announced a remake, Sailor Moon Crystal, VIZ announced that they would scrap the cousin narrative.
What Makes Her a #WCW
From the moment Haruka appears, Usagi and Minako call her ‘gorgeous.’ The first episode with the couple has no less than five scenes where rose petals fly and harps play to show how beautiful they are. Haruka hits a lot of beauty standards. She’s tall, blonde, and confident to boot. While Haruka has a more masculine style, she’s also considered beautiful by the rest of the Scouts.
She’s also very suave. Haruka wants to be a race car driver and owns a motorcycle. She’s good at video games and quick to flirt with any girls she meets. Haruka is untouchable and competent in a very attractive way.
Haruka is focused on a mission. Her job is to find the talisman in the hearts of pure individuals. She’s not afraid to step back and let someone get hurt to achieve this goal. Haruka and Michiru are the most morally gray of the Sailor Scouts.
This doesn’t mean they’re cold. Their relationship is a huge draw to the series. Despite some jealousy in the fourth season, the two are a very healthy couple. There’s a very memorable scene in season three where Michiru juggles a lemon while playing the violin just to amuse Haruka.
Sailor Moon is a show built on the love between its characters. Haruka and Michiru are part of that theme of love. When it comes to iconic sapphic characters in anime, it’s impossible to not mention these two. Haruka Tenou, for all that she’s a suave tomboy with a love of fast cars, is an icon for queer anime geeks. She’s absolutely my #WCW, fighting with brilliance.
Who do you consider your anime #WCW? Tweet @geekgalsco and we might feature your tweet in our fan submission article!
Featured image credit: Toei Animation