By: Andrew Lister
Welcome to the next installment of Tuesday Top Five! From time to time I'll be coming up with a Top 5 spanning a number of geeky topics. With the theatrical release of the Sailor Moon R movie coming out soon, this week we recap the best of the best Sailor Soldiers/Scouts/Guardians/Senshi.
I'm not ashamed to admit it: I love Sailor Moon. It was one of the first animes that I ever watched, and it has stuck with me as one of my all time favorites. I'm not saying the 90s anime was a perfect show by any means. In fact, at times it was overly sappy, had ridiculous, predictable plots, and suffered from some not-so-great voice acting.
Even with its flaws, I loved Sailor Moon for its heroic story, cool transformations and powers, and its genuine story of friendship and love. It brought me many great memories and moments with friends, and it jump started my joy for anime. If I never watched Sailor Moon, I would have never found Sailor Business, and that means there probably never would have been a Tooning Japanese.
Sailor Moon has 3 theatrical films in its repertoire (and a really, really bad fan-made live action), and it was announced a few months ago that Viz, the company that has handled the new dub, gained the rights to the movies. Not only have they re-dubbed the audio with the amazing new voice actors and plan to release it on DVD, but they also are doing a limited theatrical run across the United States. It just so happens that I have tickets for Saturday, January 21st in Iowa City, and I couldn't be any more excited!
To celebrate the upcoming film, here's my personal list of the Top Five Best Sailor Guardians. If you're a fan of the show, let me know your list below in the comments, or let's debate it on Discord!
Check out this week's Top Five by clicking below!
#5 - Sailor Moon
There's no way that The Guardian of Love and Justice isn't making the list! The show is named after her for Luna's sake!
Most people see Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon's "true" identity) as a whiny, food and boy obsessed, lazy, angsty middle school student. Those people would be correct, but these qualities also are what make Usagi truly endearing. When we are first introduced to her, we see a flawed character, a girl that doesn't seem to have any semblance of being considered heroic in any way. Of course, that changes when she rescues a black cat with a strange crescent moon on her forehead. The cat starts talking, does a cool backflip, and gives Usagi (or Serena for you 90s dub fans) a brooch that allows her to turn into the super heroine, Sailor Moon!
Yeah, I had to use the 90s dub. Trying to find clips from it online are a lot tougher than you think!
So what makes Sailor Moon such a great character if she's infinitely frustrating at times (especially early on)? It's that growth of character that makes all superheroes and protagonists interesting to watch and root for! In early episodes, she uses the power of her crying to defeat monsters, but as she matures and comes into her own as a superhero, she shows true bravery, even in the face of some of the most sinister evils in the world.
The best thing about Sailor Moon is her unending love and caring. No one shows more sincere love for her friends than Usagi, and when things get tough for her, she ultimately digs down deep to find a way to get back on her feet and fight evil by moonlight! See what I did there?
#4 - Sailor Jupiter
Makoto Kino is one of the most interesting Guardians. She defies the traditional views of femininity. She is tall, strong, and loves to fight. However, she does not only define herself by opposing the expectations of her gender. She is also a cook and loves ice skating. In short, Mako does not conform one way or the other and does not value herself on stereotypes.
Growing up I appreciated what Sailor Jupiter brought to the team as well as to her group of friends. Was she my favorite Sailor Scout? Certainly not. In fact, back in the day she may not have even appeared on my list. That being said, I have grown to love Mako the more I come to realize the depth of her determination and strength.
At her core, Mako is insecure about a lot of things. She is unhappy about her size (her school uniform doesn't even fit her) and constantly compares every boy she meets with her lost love, clinging to the past rather than simply try to find new happiness (Come on Mako, we all know you love Ami. You can admit it). She struggles with these aspects of her character more than any other Scout, and she comes off as a hot head because of it many times throughout the series. The great thing is that she never gives in and always learns and grows from her mistakes.
Controlling the powers of thunder and lightning, Sailor Jupiter has some of the most powerful and cool looking attacks. Sparkling Wide Pressure has become one of my favorite moves to watch, but there's also Oak Evolution, Supreme Thunder, and even a freaking lightning dragon! Why she used it only once is beyond me!
On top of all that, I had the chance to meet the current Viz English voice actress for Sailor Jupiter, Amanda Miller. She was fantastic and a real joy to meet at Gen Con 2015! I even have proof!
See? I told you!
Sailor Jupiter kicks major Negaverse ass!
#3 - Sailor Venus
Minako Aino was actually the very first Sailor Soldier. Before she joined the rest of the inner Senshi, she was fighting evil as the masked vigilante known as Sailor V. In fact, she was created by Naoko Takeuchi and given her own manga, Codename: Sailor V, before Sailor Moon even existed!
While some people hate on Minako for lacking a strong personality, I personally believe she is one of the funniest additions to the group. While Usagi is complaining, Minako is generally good natured and positive. Sure, she has some of the same faults as Usagi, most notably her obsession with boys and jealousy, but she brings a sense of levity to the rest of the group.
Below you'll find one of my all time favorite moments from the show that really displays her hilarity. I could only find the DiC version, but if you watch the Japanese version, the voice acting and reactions are even better.
Even though it's true more in the manga than the anime, Minako is a steadfast leader. Whenever Usagi is in danger or is unable to take on the role of leadership, Sailor Venus is always there to take command. As a fighter, she uses energy-based attacks that are fueled by...love? I've never fully understood her attacks. I mean...what is a Love Me Chain? Does it have anything to do with that string of beads she wears in the manga and on Crystal?
Minako is fun and full of energy. Without Venus, the Sailor Guardians are missing one of its most important and influential members. Oh! And the time she mixes up phrases! I couldn't find any clips, so instead here's an odd video of Minako telling space puns.
#2 - Sailor Uranus
Sailor Uranus arrives on the show alongside Sailor Neptune as a bit of an enigma. They come searching for pure heart crystals and seem to be at odds with Sailor Moon and the other Guardians. Are they friends or enemies?
Let's be real for a moment. The best thing about Sailor Uranus is the fact that the show dared in the 1990s to present a lesbian couple to the audience. This wasn't some cheesy fan service, either. The romance between Haruka Tenou (Uranus) and Michiru Kaioh (Neptune) felt legitimate, complex, and loving. I learned about these two scouts around the time I was struggling to understand my own sexuality, so seeing an actual gay couple on television and not being the butt of a joke was extremely formative for me.
Not only did Haruka defy the cultural norms of sexuality, but she defied her expected gender as well. Early on everyone confused Haruka as male, and she seemed to always roll with it. It never bothered her when she was treated as or called a man. In fact, she broke the gender stereotypes just as much as, if not more, than Sailor Jupiter. For example, there was an episode that focused on Haruka's involvement in what was perceived as a male-only sport of motocross. Did she care what the male drivers thought of her? Absolutely not. If anything, it fueled her desire to kick their asses.
As a Sailor Guardian, she has some of my favorite attacks. World Shaking is just so amazingly cool to watch! It doesn't just hit you with energy, but it makes you feel a metaphorical earthquake without actually damaging the area around everyone like we see with the other Scouts' attacks.
Looking back now, Sailor Uranus really does stand above the other scouts as one of my favorites. Well, except for the one Pretty Guardian that still and will always remain my favorite.
#1 - Sailor Mercury
Anyone that really knows me understands how much I love Ami Mizuno. She's the first Sailor Senshi to join Usagi in her fight against The Dark Kingdom, and in many ways she's the true voice of reason of the entire team.
Ami is a super genius with an IQ of 300. Because of this, she is often perceived as a stuck up brainiac and a social outcast by those around her. Those that actually get to know Ami realize that she's one of the sweetest, most caring girls ever. Sure, she does nag Usagi and the others quite a bit about studying for their exams, but she does it out of love and concern for their well being. She means well, and I get the feeling she buries herself in her academics as a reaction to how much of the world unfairly views her.
Mercury's lack of straight forward power may not impress some people. Her first attack, Bubble Spray, which covered an area with a thick mist, served as a support move to distract the youma and allow Usagi to turn it to dust with her tiara. The thing is, Mercury isn't a fighter that deals damage like Sailor Mars or Sailor Jupiter. Instead, she uses her brain and tactics to help turn the tide in battle. Later in the series she did gain some good offensive attacks, including one of my absolute favorite from the entire series, Shine Aqua Illusion.
I always felt a kinship with Ami. Growing up, I saw myself as shy and quiet. I focused a lot on my studies. I had dreams and aspirations that sometimes overwhelmed me. I didn't have a huge circle of friends. As with any show, you look for someone that you can relate with and understand. That was Ami for me. I may not be quite as similar as her as I've grown up, but I still feel like I connect in some way with many of her traits.
And I'm not alone in this assertion. Apparently Sailor Mercury has a huge following among Japanese fans, who understood all to well the pressures of performing well in school. She was so popular that she even received her own short movie, Ami's First Love.
Oh, and one last thing. Who else eats a sandwich in such a cute way?
We'll be back for another Tuesday Top 5 article! Be sure to check back and let us know what you think about my rankings in the comments below!
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