What is Sailor Moon?

wiseGEEK Writer

Sailor Moon is a manga (comic book) series, named after the main character created by Naoko Takeuchi. In Japan, the immense popularity of Sailor Moon has led to anime (cartoon versions) of the manga series, movies, live action productions, video games, and musicals. Translations of the comic book series in the US have been popular, though dubbed versions of the anime productions failed to capture the interest of many TV viewers.

Sailor Moon is immensely popular in Japan.
Sailor Moon is immensely popular in Japan.

Sailor Moon straddles two common manga genres, magical girl and the team genre. Initially Naoko Takeuchi was specifically interested in the magical girl genre, but later the popularity of the Sailor V manga series inspired her to rework the plot to incorporate nine more magical girls into a team to fight the forces of darkness. Each girl has the ability to morph into a “sailorsuperhero named after the planets, or the moon. If you follow the manga, the stories are not always consistent because of this reworking of the plot.

Takeuchi has been praised for her “girl power” themes, her inclusion of references to Classical Greek and Roman mythology, and for reintroducing the magical girl theme to manga. She initially planned to produce one story only, but instead ended up producing five different story arcs because of the popularity of Sailor Moon. The full series has been published in book form, actually 14 books in total. The first edition was published in 1992, and in 2003, a second edition with new drawings, some editing and new art hit the stands.

The manga series began its run in 1992 and over the next five years produced 200 episodes. The popularity of Sailor Moon made the manga popular in primetime showings of the cartoon. The live action series enjoyed a brief run in Japan between 2003-2004. In Japan, Sony and Sega both had popular Sailor Moon video games, more known its puzzles. A game for the Nintendo Wii is being produced. It’s challenging to find English versions of Sailor Moon video games.

Finding English translations of the manga Sailor Moon is now difficult. The English language versions of the manga are out of print, so they can be difficult to collect. Additionally, Sailor Moon did not enjoy the widespread popularity in the US that it did in Japan, so fewer issues and books were printed in English.

Although some criticize Sailor Moon as campy or “stock” entertainment, many have clearly enjoyed the stories in all their manifestations. It’s still considered one of the top anime series in Japan, and has been inspiring for young girls who’d like to write manga. Takeuchi’s popularity in Japan has been comparable to J.K. Rowling’s in the UK and US. She’s considered a role model for those who’d like to follow in her footsteps.

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Discussion Comments


I like some anime -- Inyuasha, to be specific -- but Sailor Moon drives me crazy. Whether the cartoons are in English or Japanese, she just comes off as a silly little twit who giggles too much and has no business saving the universe. I just don't like the character.

I'm not generally crazy about the whole graphic novel and manga thing, so I just don't have the background to appreciate Sailor Moon, I guess. But mostly, she's just really dumb and irritating to me. She really irks me. I realize it's a hugely popular series, but I never could get into it.


My cousin was crazy about Sailor Moon, and I looked at some of the manga and watched some of the cartoons, and I have to say I was less than impressed. I know many people really like Sailor Moon, but I think I just came to it far too late.

I'm not really an anime fan. I should like it since I like science fiction and other genres, but I just can't do anime. I think it's because it all looks alike to me. There's the anime that looks like Sailor Moon, with girls with huge doe eyes and tiny noses, impossibly long legs, etc. Then there's the dark anime that's all angles and sharp edges. Neither really appeals to me.

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