Pretty Guardian Sailor... Mercury?

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Mar 8, 2012
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#1
According to Animage's annual polls, Sailor Mercury was by far the most popular Sailor Moon character (at least among that magazine's readership, which is not necessarily representative of Sailor Moon fans as a whole). Sailor Mercury was not quite as popular according to the annual Nakayoshi character polls, however, ranking overall at number 20 behind Moon, Chibi Moon, Chibi Chibi, Saturn, Venus, Pluto, and Uranus. Still, the character's popularity really cannot be understated, which is probably why she's tended to get special focus in several musicals, and, of course, the whole "Dark Mercury" sub-plot in the live action series. (And, referring back to the Nakayoshi polls, Berthier, Fish Eye, and Palla Palla also all ranked extremely high compared to their respective cohorts, so obviously the blue color scheme + water powers is a popular combination of traits, though not a guarantee of success given Viluy's and Aluminum Siren's relative unpopularity.)

Anyway, all this makes me wonder: would the series have been more (or at least as) popular with Ami as its main/title character? (Either as "Sailor Mercury" or as "Sailor Moon.") What is it about Ami that made her so popular, and would that popularity carry over if she were the lead? What would need to stay the same, what would need to change in order for this to work?

"Sailor Mercury" as the lead could work without too many changes: The Silver Crystal could easily become "The Quicksilver Crystal," and the "Moon Stick" could easily become a Mercury symbol-shaped bubble wand.

Ami as "Sailor Moon" could also work without too many changes as the Moon is already highly associated with water. "Moon Healing Escalation" could easily become "Moon Aqua Healing."

Mamoru could still work as a love interest since he and Ami are intellectual equals, both live fairly posh lifestyles, and both are aspiring doctors.

The dynamic between Ami and Luna is different than the one between Usagi and Luna, so that would have to change.

Ami's social awkwardness/shyness/loneliness is a fairly big part of her character, so I'm not sure how casting her as team leader would work. I guess you'd have to show her working to overcome her social awkwardness?

Anyway, what are your thoughts? In the meantime, enjoy this coloring I did of Ami!Moon:

 

Umino

Lumen Cinereum
Jun 6, 2006
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#2
If Mercury was the main character, I'd probably hate the series. She was, and forever is, my least favorite of the Sailor Soldiers (Maker is actually worse, but she's a bit character). She's so incredibly boring, and a total square. I loved the rest of the girls because they were so realistic. They hate studying. They like to gush over guys. Some are amazing at sports, others are terrible. Ami was always so neutral with everything, it was sickening. Not to mention her only attack for ages was throwing BUBBLES.
 
Sep 6, 2014
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#4
If Mercury was the main character, I'd probably hate the series. She was, and forever is, my least favorite of the Sailor Soldiers (Maker is actually worse, but she's a bit character). She's so incredibly boring, and a total square. I loved the rest of the girls because they were so realistic. They hate studying. They like to gush over guys. Some are amazing at sports, others are terrible. Ami was always so neutral with everything, it was sickening. Not to mention her only attack for ages was throwing BUBBLES.
I know people like Ami though *shrug*. She resonated with Japanese viewers for a reason .
She’s probably my least favorite of the main 5 but she’s not a bad or bland character.

Michiru and Haruka were far worse at being wish fulfillment characters. Outside of “Omg new Sailor Scouts!” and “Omg these Scouts don’t get along with the main team!” and LGBT representation those two don’t have a lot going for them.

She only had the bubbles attack for little over a year out of a five year run.
 

Tuxedo Kevin

Lumen Cinereum
Nov 22, 2016
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#5
I believe the reason for her success in Japan is because she is the closest to your average Japanese person in the main cast. Or at least, what Japanese society expects a person to be like. She's introspective, has really good manners and focuses really hard on studying. She was like a role model to the viewers. I believe girls watching SM wanted to be like Mercury, and their parents wanted their kids to be like her as well.
But I don't think she would be able to carry a series on her own. ReI and Minako definitely could, Mako maybe, but Ami not.
 

Seira Hazuki

Lumen Cinereum
Jan 17, 2007
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#6
I'm not sure if it's a hypothetical that works because there's a distinction between Ami's popularity in the manga and the original anime.

The manga was primarily targeted to young girls and Ami/Sailor Mercury, while still a fairly popular character, was nowhere near as popular as Usagi and her various incarnations. Usagi was an everyday, flawed heroine which girls were able to probably see themselves in moreso than someone like Ami who is the perfect student. In that case, who knows if an Ami-lead manga would be as successful...

The original anime is another story. While also appealing to girls, it also clearly took strides to appeal to men (see the various fan service in the series). My understanding is that Ami represents the qualities that a lot of Japanese men find attractive which accounts for the huge difference in her popularity from the anime and manga.
 

Rachael

Luna Nova
Jun 2, 2011
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#7
I would like to see that, honestly. The Amis of the world need love, too! You almost never see a character like her as a main character. I'd also like to point out that Ami does have an interesting/adorkable side to her--the show is just a lot more subtle about it. Like when she pulls out her swimsuit at the mountain resort when Artemis and Luna were expecting her to be the only who came out there solely to support Mako. Another instance is when she completely goes off her rocker, believing that her rival is the enemy, in "Ami's First Love." I think she's a great character.
 
Jun 30, 2010
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#9
I don't think the series would have been as popular either in or outside of Japan, which is a shame because I love this concept. It's rare for the "smart one" to ever be the leader. The "smart one" is usually a supporting character, sometimes the moral center, and even sometimes the traitor, but not called to command. Of course, Sailor Mercury is also the responsible one, which means she would be more like the normal "leader" type, except without the charisma or social confidence.

I can't see Ami taking over the role of Sailor Moon in a simple-plug-and-play, though. Even if you renamed her "Usagi Tsukino" to preserve the pun but kept her character exactly the same as it is a Ami, I don't think it would work. Ami's personality doesn't lend itself to things like the Moon Princess reveal or the tragic romance the same way that Usagi's does, as Usagi is at least established to be the unconventional heroine.

I do agree that one could port Sailor Moon's powers over to Sailor Mercury, although I don't know if Naoko Takeuchi would have had the insight to create "The Quicksilver Crystal." That would have been awesome, though.

I think if Sailor Mercury were the lead, there would really be no need for Sailor Moon herself. Sailor Moon can be grating enough even by those who like her when she goes overboard in whining in the anime, but at least she undergoes severe character development. Can you imagine having her as a subordinate teammate crying about not wanting to fight the monsters? The way the series is structured, Ami is a supporting character to firm up the others. If she generally has the work ethic, pairing her with an ineffective, lazy girl can make for good comedy, but it would do nothing to help Ami grow into a leader. Instead, much like the old anime, she would need someone like Mako to be her sidekick, which would be fine by me because I like her, too.

Of course, this would also mean reworking the entire backstory if Sailor Mercury became the lead. Instead of it being the Moon Kingdom, it would be the Kingdom of the Planets, with planet Mercury being closest to the sun. Mamoru would have to be reworked, as while he has the intellectual capacity to serve as Mercury's partner, he would be too similar. OP has a point in which Motoki would have been a good match for her in the manga, and if the series were reworked with Ami as a lead, either he or a Mamoru-Motoki fusion would be a good choice for her love interest. He's supportive, which is what Ami needs (not Mamoru's antagonistic criticism). Plus, if Sailor Mercury's recruitment is the same where she is enticed to go into Crown to get the transformation trinket, then it makes him more central rather than the unknowing accessory that he is.

Also, Luna's personality would have to be redone. Actually, there's so much that would have to be reworked that at a certain point, could you call it Sailor Moon?

There aren't any easy answers to any of these questions, which is why I like them.
 

Tuxedo Kevin

Lumen Cinereum
Nov 22, 2016
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#10
It may have held the same or similar success as Sailor Moon has in Japan, but I doubt it would have been any where near as successful in the rest of the world.
People aren't into the "nerdy" types in the West like they are in Japan. Just take a look at the biggest Western magical girl franchise, Winx Club.
Tecna is a short-haired geek just like Ami, and she's by far the least favorite main character of the viewers, even being left out of official doll collections. Musa often gets the short end of the stick along with her.
 
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Mar 8, 2012
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#11
^ Actually, that reminds me that the reason Naoko had to give the Starlights those awful rat tails is because Bandai told her short-haired dolls don't sell well. I wonder if that mindset would have affected Ami's design were she the lead character?

Anyway, back in the '90s I'd agree that "nerdy" types weren't that popular in the West, but "nerd chic" has been a big trend for many years now, so I wouldn't say that's the case, at least in the US. Velma from Scooby-Doo, for instance, is probably that franchise's most popular character on the internet (though whether or not that's because she's the series' "nerdy" character is debatable).

I think an Ami-led version of the series would have been at least modestly popular in Japan, but I don't think its popularity would have been enduring, and it probably wouldn't have had much (if any) international success. Which is a shame because, as others have said, we really never get to see the "nerdy" character (especially when a woman) as the lead.
 

Tuxedo Kevin

Lumen Cinereum
Nov 22, 2016
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#12
^ Actually, that reminds me that the reason Naoko had to give the Starlights those awful rat tails is because Bandai told her short-haired dolls don't sell well. I wonder if that mindset would have affected Ami's design were she the lead character?
They actually tried to make Tecna look more feminine by giving her a longer hair and girlier outfits, but apparently that didn't work and she's still unpopular.

Season 1 (2004)


Season 8 (2019)

 

sapphire91

Aurorae Lunares
Jul 6, 2018
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#13
Japanese people like Amias she represent the perfect Japanese teenager. But when it comes to mahou shoujo main character at the time was for them to be relatable. Ami would be considered cool but not a good main character for such a show.
 

Umino

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Jun 6, 2006
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#14
I know people like Ami though *shrug*. She resonated with Japanese viewers for a reason .
She’s probably my least favorite of the main 5 but she’s not a bad or bland character.

Michiru and Haruka were far worse at being wish fulfillment characters. Outside of “Omg new Sailor Scouts!” and “Omg these Scouts don’t get along with the main team!” and LGBT representation those two don’t have a lot going for them.

She only had the bubbles attack for little over a year out of a five year run.
Uranus and Neptune are still compelling heroes, especially since they come across as more of anti-heroes. They work as the perfect antithesis to the ideals and optimism of Sailor Moon and her crew. They're also still both very flawed people, who are both very scared and have a lot of demons. Unlike Ami, who is worshiped and adored by everyone.
 

SailorSpySedna

Lumen Cinereum
May 18, 2016
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#15
I don't know what would have happened honestly, but I can't see it alone. Ami still isn't everything to Sailor Moon, we still have to have the other characters too.

If she was the protagonist, I would have added some of her PGSM traits too.
 

Tuxedo Kevin

Lumen Cinereum
Nov 22, 2016
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#17
They're also still both very flawed people, who are both very scared and have a lot of demons. Unlike Ami, who is worshiped and adored by everyone.
Ami is shy, insecure, and the weakest out of all the Sailor Soldiers after Chibi Moon (original anime). While Haruka and Michiru are portrayed as the pinnacle of elegance and skilled at absolutely everything they do.
 
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Umino

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Jun 6, 2006
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#18
Ami is shy, insecure, and the weakest out of all the Sailor Soldiers after Chibi Moon (original anime). While Haruka and Michiru are portrayed as the pinnacle of elegance and skilled at absolutely everything they do.
But... she also masters anything and everything she does. I mean, once we got to the episode where she's a freaking MECHANIC I wanted to pull my hair out.
 

Umino

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Jun 6, 2006
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#19
Ami has flaws, too. She's a closet pervert and sandwich glutton who shows absolutely no regard for her mother's diamonds!
That's in the manga, where she's a much more relatable and more imperfect character. In the anime she's a total cookie cutter character.