Wake Up, America! There’s an Entire Season of Sailor Moon You Probably Haven’t Seen
Trans characters, you say? How about singing, dancing, beautiful boys that are secretly female soldiers from outer space?
The Three Lights of Sailor Moon's final season in both male and female form.
I know you know Sailor Moon, since it’s simply the best. But most of you are probably moving through this life woefully unaware there’s an entire season of the stuff that has only recently begun creeping its way onto North American shores (legally, at least). It’s called “Sailor Stars,” and it’s the last of the original run of 200 episodes from the 1990s. What have you missed?? Oh, let me tell you.
Let’s not start at the beginning, but instead skip right ahead to what I care about, because this is my article after all. There are three new main characters/Sailor soldiers (don’t you dare say scouts in my presence, dweeb) added to the cast in “Sailor Stars,” a trio of pop idols called the Three Lights that enroll in our heroine Usagi’s high school. Named Seiya, Yaten, and Taiki, they appear to be talented teenage bishounen, which would be more than enough, but it quickly becomes apparent they’re doing double duty on Earth as interstellar aliens looking for their princess from space. And…they’re actually women, turning into their femme identities when they’re ready to fight as Sailor Star Fighter, Sailor Star Healer, and Sailor Star Maker.
This show came out in 1997. I know visibility is a big deal in the golden age of American television, but anime has been playing fast and loose with gender and sexuality for so long, rarely devoting a single episode to anyone’s “coming out,” and actively playing to heterosexuals’ voyeuristic interest in same sex romance, all while American film and TV slogs through waves of cis straight people “dealing” with the fact that gay or trans people exist. It’s fascinating how animation and manga explored these ideas with such ease then and continues to do so, despite coming from a country not necessarily renown for outstanding gender equality or gay rights. In Sailor Moon, it’s much more of an issue that Seiya falls in love with Usagi because she is committed to her long-term boyfriend (and future husband) Mamoru, who in this season is away “studying in America” (I…won’t spoil what that turns out to be a euphemism for in this show), than that Seiya is actually an alien woman! Sailor Moon gently turns him down, rather than losing her mind. If that’s not a model of how to accept people and respect their feelings, I just don’t know what is.
But fret not my fellow freaks, there is hope now: though it’s a bit of a mess organizationally, Viz Media’s website is now streaming the last season (it starts at episode 167 and the Three Lights pop up in 173). Watch with someone you love, and then drift off to sleep with crescent moons dancing in your head.