Is Sailor Moon Anti-Capitalist?

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Neon Genesis

Solaris Luna
Oct 31, 2015
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#1
When you think about it, Sailor Moon seems to have a bit of an anti-capitalist message. Throughout the first season of the 90s anime, the Dark Kingdom seems to prey off the dark side of consumerism and uses people's greed as a trap. Like in one episode, the Dark Kingdom uses a shopping center as a plot to speed up people's time to drain their energy with. Other episodes have them going after pet shops or Nephrite targeting a company that wants to tear down a park to expand their profits. In contrast, Crystal Tokyo seems more like a perfect utopia where everyone seems to be living fairly equally comfortable lives and everything seems to be ruled by this one centralized expansive government. This is in direct contrast to the first season where it seems like people giving into their base capitalistic greed literally becomes a drain in human society. Am I reading too much into Naoko's political leanings or is she trying to say something about the free markets with Sailor Moon?
 

Rika-Chicchi

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#2
Neon Genesis said:
In contrast, Crystal Tokyo seems more like a perfect utopia where everyone seems to be living fairly equally comfortable lives and everything seems to be ruled by this one centralized expansive government.
So it's a communist society? :P
 

kamil88

Lumen Cinererum
Jun 30, 2013
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#3
Not really, enemies of that utopia are just banished, instead of killed/put on reeducation camp, like class enemies/kulaks/imperialists. :)
 

lord Martiya

Aurorae Lunares
Dec 11, 2015
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#4
Neon Genesis said:
When you think about it, Sailor Moon seems to have a bit of an anti-capitalist message. Throughout the first season of the 90s anime, the Dark Kingdom seems to prey off the dark side of consumerism and uses people's greed as a trap. Like in one episode, the Dark Kingdom uses a shopping center as a plot to speed up people's time to drain their energy with. Other episodes have them going after pet shops or Nephrite targeting a company that wants to tear down a park to expand their profits. In contrast, Crystal Tokyo seems more like a perfect utopia where everyone seems to be living fairly equally comfortable lives and everything seems to be ruled by this one centralized expansive government. This is in direct contrast to the first season where it seems like people giving into their base capitalistic greed literally becomes a drain in human society. Am I reading too much into Naoko's political leanings or is she trying to say something about the free markets with Sailor Moon?
I think you are, for two reasons. First, we don't know ANYTHING about Silver Millennium, aside that it apparently works well but has a poor military defence. Second, the Dark Kingdom used those plots because that was where Japanese kids (their main targets) went, without caring about any other implication. Had Japanese teens gone to political gatherings, Jadeite would have absorbed their energy by cursing their party badges and propaganda pins.
 

Maraviollantes

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Embelyon
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#5
There are no facts indicating any kind of "equality" in Crystal Tokyo. More like, the opposite. NQS & company are living in giant shining crystal skyscrapers rising above the entire city. Not quite a place somebody caring for equality of people would be living in.

As to the Dark Kingdom targets, Sailor Moon & friends were protecting those shopping centers and the like, and thus "defended" capitalism and consumerism.
 

Neon Genesis

Solaris Luna
Oct 31, 2015
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#6
I don't know that we can decide their economic equality situation based on how large their buildings are but I'm basing my views on this on what little info we were given from the show itself. If I remember correctly, King Endymion mentioned in the 90s anime that Crystal Tokyo lived through a long period of peace after the Earth was freed from its slumber, and they seemed to have been a fairly prosperous society judging from how angry it made Demande in Crystal/the manga that people were living such peaceful lives so much so that he considered their peace to be stagnating, which seems to indicate that they had reached a peak level of prosperity. And while the Sailor Soldiers defended the people and locations under attack, the overall message of the episodes seemed to be about how greed can blind people into making foolish decisions.
 

Maraviollantes

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#7
Neon Genesis said:
I don't know that we can decide their economic equality situation based on how large their buildings are but I'm basing my views on this on what little info we were given from the show itself. If I remember correctly, King Endymion mentioned in the 90s anime that Crystal Tokyo lived through a long period of peace after the Earth was freed from its slumber, and they seemed to have been a fairly prosperous society judging from how angry it made Demande in Crystal/the manga that people were living such peaceful lives so much so that he considered their peace to be stagnating, which seems to indicate that they had reached a peak level of prosperity.
Actually, deciding economic equality based on how large their buildings are is pretty simple: if a tiny percentage of population (the ruling class) lives in giant palaces, and the rest of population lives in regular apartment buildings, they aren't equal.
As to peace and prosperity, all Egyptian pharaohs left inscriptions all over their shrines and pyramids describing their rule as the time of "unprecedented peace and prosperity". Incidentally, they also were fond into building giant structures reaching into the sky.
 

MariaTenebre

Systema Solare
Jul 22, 2009
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#8
kamil88 said:
Not really, enemies of that utopia are just banished, instead of killed/put on reeducation camp, like class enemies/kulaks/imperialists. :)
Well you pretty much only get banished if you commit some violent crime. Like the Black Moon Clan who were basically thieves and killers and a death cult in the manga.

As for Crystal Tokyo I don't think there is anything telling us the kingdom is anything but a utopia as it is portrayed.
 

Rika-Chicchi

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#9
MariaTenebre said:
As for Crystal Tokyo I don't think there is anything telling us the kingdom is anything but a utopia as it is portrayed.
Depending on how one defines their notion of "utopia," as different people have different conceptions of it. :)
 

Seira Hazuki

Solaris Luna
Jan 17, 2007
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#10
Neon Genesis said:
Am I reading too much into Naoko's political leanings or is she trying to say something about the free markets with Sailor Moon?
I'd say Naoko supports capitalism considering how much she loves showing off brands in her manga, and there's that one scene in the manga where Chibiusa pretty much lists off all of the wealthy things that her mother had amassed as queen.
 
Nov 9, 2017
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#12
Interesting topic! One thing is for sure: almost all the villains seems the neoliberal type of individuals. At least the most characterised type of neolib: they naturalize inequality, they defend it, they are always fighting each other seeking for promotions and almost never cooperate. So, I would say that the villains are mostly capitalists. In the prototype way.
 
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Planet Nemesis
neckbeard.xyz
#13
As portrayed in Crystal, the Black Moon Clan can be comparable to Christian conservatives, as their main agenda is that immortality is wrong and unnatural (the latter concept being found mainly in Catholicism), and the idea of Puritans rebelling against a monarchy could be comparable to the American Revolution.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#14
Neon Genesis said:
When you think about it, Sailor Moon seems to have a bit of an anti-capitalist message.
Hm, "Sailor Moon" exists as a franchise to make money; it exists because fans cover their entire bedrooms with toys and all kinds of merchandise. :P =^_^=
 

MariaTenebre

Systema Solare
Jul 22, 2009
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#15
Sailor Moon is definitely not anti capitalist. Many of the Senshi come from wealthy privileged backgrounds they seem like they love consumerism etc. Of course the villains when attacking with capitalize pun intended on the resources that people in this case Japan like to consume.
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#16
Not anti-capitalist at all

  • Haruka drives a convertible... and has her own helicopter.
  • Many characters (Setsuna, Hotaru) are depicted in illustrations wearing high-end, luxurious designer brands (Chanel, Thierry Mugler, to name a few).
  • Ami goes to a cram school and has access to the latest technologies.
  • Makoto is not even an adult and has her own apartment.
 

Mitsukara

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Apr 1, 2017
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#17
In the course of watching all 200 episodes (and rewatching several) and currently reading through the manga, in the course of obsessively writing a fanfic and trying not to violate anime canon in any way (whilest seeking out appropriate concepts from the manga to tie in, like the Shitennou's backstory), there is a sad, nigh-certain conclusion I have reached:

This stuff wasn't thought through very well sometimes.

Don't get me wrong- there's some definite themes and depths- the anime has a lot to say about forgiveness (consider Nephrite, or Ali and En, or Professor Tomoe, or Nehellenia, or Galaxia), trust (Mamoru has a couple stories about this in particular), caution (too much trust can get you in serious trouble- look at Hotaru taking the Grail/Chalice), love in many forms (there is an undeniable implication in both the manga and anime, that homosexual romance is valid :love:), and intriguing mythological imagery. There are themes about responsibility, and even more about coping (note how many times Usagi does stupid stuff on a day to day basis, but does exactly the right thing in a crisis- contrasted with, say, Haruka and Michiru, much as I love them too).

The manga has some of that, but I'd say the manga doesn't even really stop to dwell on ethics much at all (at least not in the first two arcs that I've read so far), it just tries to potray grand situations, romance, loss, tragedy, and stuff like that. Which are plenty deep in their own right!

And it's fun to look for more themes and depths in the work. When it comes to weird greek mythological references, they're actually there a lot of the time! I'm 100% onboard with analyzing everything.

But it's my honest opinion that Naoko Takuechi-sama, by her own description in the omake pages (check the 4-koma comics at the end of Act 11), was running on fumes half the time she wrote the manga. Sometimes she was in a hurry and struggling, understandably, with harsh deadlines. So she was often winging it, I think. It's still good work! Great work, for those circumstances.

But did she ever stop to think about capitalist or communist themes in the work? I doubt it. To the extent her own opinions leaked in, she obviously enjoys her shinies (who doesn't?), but I don't think there was a clear or intended message about that.

The anime, with all it's episodes about the Dark Kingdom's more detailed schemes, maybe sort of has some related themes, but I think the main idea is to be wary of excess and mis-spending your energy, more than anything about economic systems. Seems like more of a pseudo-buddhist aesop to me, from my limited knowledge of such matters.

Also, didn't Nephrite sort of indirectly save that park? They seemed to call off the demolition because the gardener got the wildlife to attack the demolition crew. I like to think that's the same park which appears in episode 24 (and where Chibi-usa arrives in R at the docks), but that's purely arbitrary headcanon.

Also also, the Dark Kingdom has more brainwashing than you can shake a stick at, so mostly, try not to get killed by Metallia; she'll mess your planet up even if you're minding your own business and being a good little grownup. :)

Crystal Tokyo... they show so little of how it was when it wasn't in it's destroyed. 'bad future' form (and even the destroyed version is a little vague. The anime chose to remove the corpses lining the streets, though... the manga is bruuutaaaalll!!!, like death metal! Naoko-sama was hardcore).

The non-destroyed Crystal Tokyo does evoke utopian imagery and implications (incredibly long lifespans, for example- sounds kinda transhuman-ish maybe?) but they don't say much about how it works. I kind of wish they had gotten into more about it, or at least mentioned it during the ending, but oh well XD It's certainly an intriguing topic ripe for fanfiction though.

For my own two cents (speaking as someone poor in bad health, and being highly dependant on certain welfare programs- Social Security Disability and "food stamps")... I think being "pro" or "anti" capitalist in this kind of story is less about what kind of resources the characters have and more about how they share them. Does Usagi think poor people are gross? Are the poor shunned? Do they ever get around to showing or describing poor people?

Most of the time, no. Even Ali and En, who are quasi-homeless, take over a super fancy apartment and describe themselves as 'wandering nobility' (of a dead civilization). Yuuichirou kinda looks poor the way he shows up, but we later learn he's allowed to borrow the use of his parents' privately owned huge ski lodge, so nope.

To find the only answer I remember, we must look to episode 156 and the one-off character Kamoi.

Kamoi is a starving, possibly homeless painter. He has paint supplies and clothes, but he doesn't have enough food to eat and we only ever see him hanging out in a park. He's pouring everything he has into painting, and then humbly accepting if people refuse to pay him (like total jerks).

When Usagi and Chibi-usa realize he's starving, they invite him over and cook him a nice meal- not a very permanent fix, but about as charitable as I can imagine for a teenager and preteen acting on a budget of allowance!

CereCere's plan is to exploit Kamoi by offering him a nice place to stay, but because she's shallow she tries to get him to violate his artistic principles by painting her portraits more flatteringly than he sees her. Under duress, he bitterly agrees out of desperation, and it damages his beautiful dream mirror! CereCere is just using him, of course, so this situation doesn't last anyway. But staying true to his principles is considered right, and an important part of his recovery.

Kamoi's long-term fate isn't really clear, but Usagi remains friends with him, and they buy a portrait of Rei from him (even though she also wants to be depicted more flatteringly), so... that's hardly a condemnation of him. They seem to want to help support him and think he deserves better.

(In my headcanon/fanfic, Yumemi Yumeno, the rich artist of the Seven Great Youma in season 1 with a similar life-study-model painting approach, makes friends with him, bakes him ALL THE COOKIES, and they eventually get married.)

So that random one-off episode isn't terribly capitalist, at least (at least not viciously so). If we can infer anything about the type of leader Usagi will be from this, then it's that Usagi would probably not let anybody starve even if they couldn't support themselves effectively. Perhaps she would implement a no-questions-asked subsidized food program? (As opposed to something like New York State's ABAWD policy, which says SNAP/"food stamps" are only available 3 months out of 36 for 'able bodied adults without dependents' which Kamoi would likely count as.)

EDIT: I apologize if any of the above is too political, but, well, the thread kind of brought up poiltics to begin with, so I hope it was okay.
 
Nov 9, 2017
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Portugal
#18
Clow said:
Not anti-capitalist at all

  • Haruka drives a convertible... and has her own helicopter.
  • Many characters (Setsuna, Hotaru) are depicted in illustrations wearing high-end, luxurious designer brands (Chanel, Thierry Mugler, to name a few).
  • Ami goes to a cram school and has access to the latest technologies.
  • Makoto is not even an adult and has her own apartment.
Being rich or love having fashion costumes is not a contradiction for being anti-capitalist. Anti-capitalism questions the means of production and the concentration of power in a small elite, not people having good lives and style or fashion lol! A German left-wing party has a slogan saying luxury for all, for example. High technology is hardly a capitalist conquer: you need lots of money and time to develop ideas and try technologies that usually go wrong until that one that goes right and goes to the market. Usually private companies don't want to waste time and money into something so experimental, they waste time and money. And time IS money for them, which I understand perfectly. For them, usually quick profits comes first. The socialist countries in the XX Century, despite all of their supposed contradictions, were among the most advanced technology societies: they usually developed something (public funded, off course) and in a couple of years it was public domain. In capitalism, this is only available if it's profitable. And usually, most of the schools or companies that are studying high technology, are public funded, exactly because private funds are usually for quick profits or well known areas that you know they will be profitable.

And the main anti-capitalist philosophers and early names were from rich middle classes. In fact, for you to question the world around you and the concentration of power, you need to have some sort of studies and personal or family welfare. Usually, people that are poor or don't have money to study don't usually question (or have time to question!) the world around them...
 
Jul 29, 2012
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#19
templariuS said:
And the main anti-capitalist philosophers and early names were from rich middle classes. In fact, for you to question the world around you and the concentration of power, you need to have some sort of studies and welfare. Usually, people that are poor or don't have money to study don't usually question (or have time to question) the world around them.
I agree only with this portion of your post. Only a small elite has access to knowledge and to the privilege of developing critical thinking, yes. I see that you are from Portugal. One of my favorite Portuguese poets is Antero de Quental; he came from a wealthy, privileged family, and I am sure you are as acquainted with his background and philosophical ideas as I am.

I won't discuss my thoughts on socialism because discussing politics is not allowed, but I am not in full agreement with most of what you have said.
 
Nov 9, 2017
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#20
I only tried to talk about facts, not my personal opinions about it (what ideology works and what doesn't work or their difficulties to survive or even the international/class funding for them to survive, be perpetuated or being deposed). But even in Sailor Moon politics exists, so it's impossible leaving politics behind because everything we do it's political or surrounded directly by it... Even the internet we have in our home for us to be talking right now in this fab forum, is a consequence of political ideas.

Thumbs up for Antero de Quental! He is a major figure from portuguese literature and politics :D

Either way, it seems popular to talk about Crystal Tokyo in this thread: for me, that place is more like the Thomas Moore Utopia, which is one of the core ideas for anti-capitalist ideologies, BUT with a big contradiction, which is naturally the Royal Family that holds everything perfectly. Even if we match the idea of the Royals being the State, that doesn't go with the Moore's Utopia and comunist ideology ultimate goal, which is no State and no human powers above others.

But Crystal Palace and Royal Family apart (which is something very japanese, the idea of an almost-goddess-Queen that barely goes out from her palace and it's said it's a pure hearted-delicate-and-nurturer figure) from the very little we can see about the city, it seems a city where poverty doesn't exist, wich can be (I am not saying it is) a contradiction for capitalist ideas, that naturalizes poverty and innequality, saying they probably just need to work more or leaving their comfort circle. My idealistic idea is also, like Mitsukara's type of thought, that the Palace wouldn't tolerate human innequality, poverty or injustice rather than naturalize it like capitalism and the evils do in this series: they are opposites! We can also see protagonists behaviour as charity, which is a conservative way of dealing with poverty because you help others near you just because you want and feel good about yourself and doesn't question why there are poverty and such social or economic innequality. Just like Cere Cere and Kamoi relation, as Mitsukara mentioned. BUT my guess is that in Crystal Tokyo, probably like the Moon Kingdom, the social and economic justice and equality were institutionalized, not open to random charity of some privileged.