Sailor Moon was the first Magical Girl Deconstruction

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Nov 10, 2016
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In Santa’s Sleigh
#21
The reason I said that he recognized her from his dream in SMC is that he was portrayed in a way that made it seem like he recognized her when they first met in Act 1. As soon as Usagi turned around and there was a couple of close ups of his face and eyes as if she looked familiar to him. Not sure if it’s accurate, but that’s just how it appeared to me, especially with the dream of Endymion and Serenity in the beginning of Act 1. Either way, he still was only drawn to her because he recognized her as SM and began following her somehow (which is how he suddenly knew where she lived and saw her getting on the magical bus).

As for the identity reveal thing, I already explained how them being drawn to each other after their memories were erased proves the attraction was there already.Also, based on my previous comment, it is impossible to fall in love with someone because of a memory of a past life if we’re talking about real love here. Like I said before, you can’t decide to love someone just because you choose to, and if one says that Usagi only fell for Mamoru because she remembered they were lovers, you’re basically saying that she “chose” or just decided to love him when one simply cannot do that because love does not work like that, so that statement is invalid. The way she acted towards him post reveal was mostly because she was worried whether he was alive or not, and if she’d ever see him again. She wasn’t trying to act all lovey dovey now that she knows he’s her prince, just showing genuine care and concern which is what real love allows one to do.
 
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Jun 17, 2019
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#22
I think I should stress that I like that you look at the series differently, as many of the people who look at the negative aspect of Sailor Moon stop far short of your analysis.
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my theory and analysis at least ^^

Maybe we both define a good life differently.

You clearly value freedom as a priority, even greater than I do. For many people, though, to paraphrase Darius Foroux, the purpose in life is to be useful, not to be happy.

I know in your mind that sounds awful, and I agree it has its downs, but when you're looking at it from this perspective, then the whole idea of free will isn't as important as finding your place. But if you know what you were put here on this planet to do and can do it, there is a joy to be found in filling one's role that cannot be found in the chase of that goal.

Let me be clear, that's not my philosophy. Personally, I would much rather live a life, knowing I would be able to get to do it over again instead of one single crapshoot. I like living, and part of living is fighting. Being dead in a world without reincarnated sapience means you either lose everything that is to the point where you won't even remember existing (meaning the form you are in is fact you, even if your energy does carry over), or the afterlife is permanently locked away from life, be it amazing or awful. If an incarnation of life is like a change of clothes, then I'll just head into battle with a different uniform!

First of all their essence definitely resets once they die; it's essentially an anomaly that they retain fragments of their previous incarnations this time around. Even if you accept Usagi as Sailor Cosmos, it's clear these two are not the same "person."

Second, how are their lives awful? They're clearly comfortable, middle-class, and in the past life, they were royalty. They're pretty. They aren't abused. Even Mamoru, who lost his parents and some of his memories, gets to become the king of the world. Their lives are better than mine, and as a Westerner, my life is better than 99% of the people on this Earth. For all the people who have to fight, at least they have the comfort of winning some fights and losing some others. What about the multitudes who lived, got a sword or weapon put in their hand, fought then died on the battlefield? What about those slaughtered in their sleep? What about people who starved to death? Those are awful, awful fates; at least the Sailor Guardians are equipped for battle.
You know what? Those are both very good points, perhaps I was analyzing the series too much from my own point of view. While I would say that free-will is an essential value to most of humanity (Why else do you think no communist nation has yet to work out? Or why pedophilia, even absence any physical violence, is so universally condemned?) it's not important to everyone. Some very much would choose security, stability and a continued existence and consciousness in exchange for their free will. I guess I was coming at the series looking at it through the lens of free-will being apart of what makes a human, human. Even if free-will isn't important to some people, I think the very fact that we have the ability to possess and exercise it is important and one could arguably say that the Senshi don't even have *that.* In a way, being Senshi has stripped them of basically everything that makes them human. Of course it's up to you as a viewer to decide whether or not that's really so bad, to 90's anime Usagi and the PGSM girls it most certainly is, and it seems to weigh on the hearts of the Outers in the manga as well.

The problem with this is now you have to ask, "What is love and does love require choice?" That's a high-level philosophical question I don't have a comprehensive answer for. However, if you acknowledge there are different kinds of love you also have to acknowledge love doesn't necessitate choice. If you had a mother, you probably loved her, but did you choose to love her or was your love of her based on the fact that she happened to raise you and you imprinted on her?
There's a clear difference between romantic love and platonic love, heck there's even a difference between platonic and familial love! The whole point of romantic partnerships and friendships is that you can choose who to associate with while you can't pick your family. Sailor Moon poses an interesting scenario in which doesn't even have any say in *those* kinds of relationships. And isn't it ironic that the more and more Usagi gets enmeshed in her Senshi duty and identity the farther away she drifts away from Naru and Umino and is now spending all her time with the girls and Mamoru? Everyone in the fandom has noted and lamented how in both the 90's anime and manga Naru and Umino begin to appear less and less and I do have to wonder how much of a coincidence it is that their phasing out happens as soon as Usagi gets more and more comfortable in her role.


I
f you've read comics in the past 20 years...the mainstream titles are going in a more mythic/cosmic direction in terms of storytelling, especially the heroes who are based on deities and steeped in mythology (Thor, Wonder Woman, etc).
I've never been into the American Superhero scene so this is indeed news to me.



There are a few problems with this line of thinking.

First and foremost, unlike Madoka where most of the girls we saw had both a desire and a free choice to becoming magical girls, Sailor Moon is the only one who actually chose to fight in the manga and Classic. Everyone else was either forcibly awakened or awakened under duress. In PGSM, Ami didn't want to become a soldier (despite later being revealed to have daydreamed about it). There was some sort of inevitability about the girls becoming magical girls; either they would have awakened or they would have died. By framing their awakenings in this way, the element of choice and wishes are downplayed. You acknowledge this because you just admitted how Sailor Moon's life is a hamster wheel. However, if existence is a hamster wheel and there is no choice, one can't have a cautionary tale without choice.

While the Classic anime ended with a downbeat note, it's important to note that what makes everything in Sailor Moon's journey so unbearable to Usagi isn't the magical girl stuff; if you notice in later seasons when the present-day antics comprise nearly the entirety of their interactions there is much less superhero tension. This isn't Madoka where there's a price to be paid for just for being a magical girl.

Instead, what gives Sailor Moon its grimmer side is the reincarnation romance, which is tacked onto it as a backstory. But it's not an inherent part of being a magical girl. In fact, the key thing to keep in mind Sailor Moon was not a magical girl in her past life. This makes her go around different. That's what turns a tragedy into a comedy.
I feel like there's a few things going on here. Someone on reddit brought up the concept of perhaps Sailor Moon better fitting the definition of an "Unbuilt Trope" rather than a deconstruction for the Magical Girl genre. It both redefined while simultaneously subverted common expectations about what being a Magical Girl is all about. It might not be a Cautionary Tale to the characters because they never had any choice in this to begin with but I feel it's most certainly one to the audience. Signaling to us a different perspective of what being a Magical Girl might entail. What if it wasn't by choice? What if you were simply born with these powers that were attached to a destiny and duty you can't escape? What would that look like? Is it not a bit ridiculous to assume that any Magical Powers you're suddenly granted would be because you simply wished for them and they're only ever there to make your life better? What if they were always there but they were never ever meant to be used for yourself? How would that change your view of the Magical Girl life?

I feel like Sailor Moon definitely poses these questions, at least in the manga and PGSM.

Also I would highly disagree that Classic ended on a downbeat note, I still consider it the happiest ending of the series (yes even happier than PGSM cause at least here all the girls and Mamoru's memories of the past year are erased and there's no definite expectation that Usagi and Mamoru will end up together) whereas the manga is the saddest and most bittersweet one, though I will concede that's mostly just in the context of viewing it according to my values and it might not be the same for everyone.

That she bumped into Mamoru again at all is a heavy indication that things are going to play out in a similar, if non-supernatural way. As long as the two characters exist, they will be drawn to each other like a the positive end and a negative end of a magnet.
I still believe it was intended to be up for interpretation. It's certainly more ambiguous than any other ending the series has had, that's for sure!

So far you've done a great job in eloquently providing a devil's advocate to my argument that Sailor Moon is inherently a deconstruction but I must ask, what about the concept of "Reject" Senshi like Sailors Galaxia and Lethe and Mnemosyne that are introduced in Stars? Senshi who got the bad luck of the draw and ended up with weak and underdeveloped star seeds and thus, weak and underdeveloped planets.

Even if we go with your argument that perhaps being beholden to an eternal and neverending life of fighting and a destiny isn't an inherently horrible thing, doesn't the mere existence of Senshi such as these prove that there's some kind of deconstructive element that Naoko was trying to inject in her story? Perhaps you can argue that the core, Sol System Senshi don't have it so bad in the grand scheme of things, but I doubt you could do the same for these 3.
 
Jun 17, 2019
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#23
The reason I said that he recognized her from his dream in SMC is that he was portrayed in a way that made it seem like he recognized her when they first met in Act 1. As soon as Usagi turned around and there was a couple of close ups of his face and eyes as if she looked familiar to him. Not sure if it’s accurate, but that’s just how it appeared to me, especially with the dream of Endymion and Serenity in the beginning of Act 1. Either way, he still was only drawn to her because he recognized her as SM and began following her somehow (which is how he suddenly knew where she lived and saw her getting on the magical bus).

As for the identity reveal thing, I already explained how them being drawn to each other after their memories were erased proves the attraction was there already.Also, based on my previous comment, it is impossible to fall in love with someone because of a memory of a past life if we’re talking about real love here. Like I said before, you can’t decide to love someone just because you choose to, and if one says that Usagi only fell for Mamoru because she remembered they were lovers, you’re basically saying that she “chose” or just decided to love him when one simply cannot do that because love does not work like that, so that statement is invalid. The way she acted towards him post reveal was mostly because she was worried whether he was alive or not, and if she’d ever see him again. She wasn’t trying to act all lovey dovey now that she knows he’s her prince, just showing genuine care and concern which is what real love allows one to do.
I know you weren’t responding to me, but I would like to answer some of the things you pointed out.
“Does love require choice?”
No. We cannot choose who we fall in love with. If that were the case, then we’d be able to pick a person on the street and would be able to automatically love them just because we simply chose them to be the one we’re in love with. Thats why unrequited love exists, sometimes the love for someone is there and sometimes it’s just not there at all. It’s not that we’re trying not to like that person we rejected (cause even if you try hard not to like someone, if you do, you still will have feelings for them regardless of whether you want to or not), we just don’t have those same feelings.

Now loving someone may not be a choice, but deciding whether or not you’ll act on it, however, is. You can decide whether you want to be with that person or not, and as I pointed out in my previous comment, Usagi’s conversation with Mamoru showed that both of them weren’t letting their destinies determine whether they’ll be together or not. He gave her the choice to abandon this life of a heroine and just live normally with a normal boyfriend (which is not him since he’s TM/Endymion). Usagi chose Mamoru, cause in the end, that’s who she wanted to be with despite him not being normal. Her heart wants what it wants.

The fact that the two of them were still drawn to each other without the memories of being SM and TM along with being past lovers proves that two were naturally attracted to each other like they were before in the beginning of the Classic season. Whereas in SMC, Mamoru was only drawn to her because he recognized her from his dream and thought she looked like SM. This makes their main connection of being drawn to each other relate to the past instead of them just enjoying teasing and bickering with each other, which helps them to bond in their own way.
Mamoru didn't recognize her from his dreams in Crystal nor manga, nor Classic. He had these dreams in the three versions of the story and in neither of them he recognized her. Whatever version of the story you take, he was drawn to her by invisible force. He might have guessed she was Sailor Moon, but he never knew who the girl in his dreams was. Not until he died and remembered his past life. Destiny plays part in the manga, 90s anime and Crystal in pretty much the same way. In the manga and Crystal Usagi had attraction to Mamoru before knowing his identity. In the 90s she became love sick only after his identity was revealed.
To be fair, plenty of other anime and manga are fond of using the "red-string of fate, destined lovers" trope in order to get their couples together, especially in the form of premonition dreams.

For example in Fruits Basket (which recently got the Crystal treatement) there's a character who falls in love with his SO purely because she came to him in a dream, the reasoning behind this is never explained (though there is some reincarnation mumbo jumbo mixed in here) but the audience is never supposed to doubt his love or the sincerity of his feelings for her, just as we're never meant to doubt Mamoru's or Usagi's feelings.

I think this just might be a cultural difference that's evident of Japan being a collective society and adherence to Confucianism ideals which tend not to stress too much individuality or free-will as that's seen as in many Eastern socities as just being selfish.

Due to this, I can see why the destined, star-crossed lovers trope could particularly appeal to the Japanese mindset and audience when it comes to their idealized image of "a perfect couple."
 

Clow

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Jul 29, 2012
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#24
At least the manga is. I know how everyone likes to talk about Madoka being the first deconstruction of it's kind but I feel Sailor Moon long proceeded it. Everything that's revealed in the Stars arc at the end of the manga about all the characters fates that they'll never be able to escape is downright depressing. The ending itself is bittersweet at best and tragic at worst. The whole concept of Chaos and the Galaxy Cauldron is basically proto-Entropy as well.
I agree with you about the Stars arc being a descontruction of the genre.

In fact, I feel Madoka feels very much like the Stars arc, as seen in the manga. All the characters die, Sailor Cosmos wants to end the universe, and the ending that was given to us is that Sailor Cosmos will exist as long as Chaos exist and that Sailor Cosmos's fate is to be in a constant war with Chaos, for eternity.

... if there is any indication that Usagi is Sailor Cosmos (that was left unclear), then Usagi's happiness (becoming Neo Queen Serenity, being with Mamoru) is ephemeral.

To summarize, the Stars arc really deconstructed the genre and, yes, the ending is very bittersweet. I always thought so.
 

Neo King Rose

Usagi's Rose
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Sep 13, 2008
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in my aesthetic
#25
Dude, that's not even true that Madoka was the first mahou shoujo deconstruction. Even putting aside Sailor Moon -- Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructed shoujo anime LONG before Madoka came out. I like Madoka Magica, but I actually prefer Sailor Moon and Utena.
facts
and I love all three honestly
 
Jun 17, 2019
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#26
I agree with you about the Stars arc being a descontruction of the genre.

In fact, I feel Madoka feels very much like the Stars arc, as seen in the manga. All the characters die, Sailor Cosmos wants to end the universe, and the ending that was given to us is that Sailor Cosmos will exist as long as Chaos exist and that Sailor Cosmos's fate is to be in a constant war with Chaos, for eternity.

... if there is any indication that Usagi is Sailor Cosmos (that was left unclear), then Usagi's happiness (becoming Neo Queen Serenity, being with Mamoru) is ephemeral.

To summarize, the Stars arc really deconstructed the genre and, yes, the ending is very bittersweet. I always thought so.
Yes thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one that can see that Madoka was totally took it's concept and was inspired by the manga Stars.

So really Madoka fans have Sailor Moon and Takeuchi to thank for the reason why the series and even the entire "Magical Girl means suffering" genre even exists.

I get the feeling Naoko was always planning on writing a deconstructive take on the Mahou Shojo from the start. Her original plans for the first arc's ending confirm as much and the Stars finale of the manga really drive home this fact.

Despite protests from Toei and Osabu she still managed to get away with turning Sailor Moon into a deconstruction and was able to write her dark ending in the end.

The Stars arc also honestly feels like a big [BLEEP] you to all those who tried to take creative control of her franchise, I felt a lot of anger in that arc with just how hogs-wild and dark it went!

I really can't wait till Crystal finally animates it, it's probably my favorite arc in the entire manga.

By the way, Cosmos is definitely Usagi and how we know this is from the fact that in all translations of the line Cosmos always refers to Usagi as the "me of this time." Why would she say Usagi is her if she were a completely different person? Especially after the lengths the manga went to differentiate Chibi-Usa from Usagi as part of her own character development?

So yes, whether she's a reincarnation or an alternate timeline "bad end" version, Cosmos is Usagi and that means Usagi is destined to fight Cosmos for all eternity.
 

Umino

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#27
The thing is, Western fans place series like Sailor Moon and Madoka in such high regard, and see them as much more revolutionary than they are because it's all they know. A lot of magical girl series haven't been subbed (especially super influential like Megu-chan, or Lun Lun), so fans will watch a clip or two on Youtube and make their own conclusions based on that.
 
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#28
No body is denying that Madoka and Sailor Moon are deconstruction. They are not the first. There a lot of shoujo stuff from the 70s and 80s that did deconstruction. And if you remove the magical aspect, there are shows like Rose of Versailles and Dear Brother that inspired Ikuhara etc. do achieve that. You will see that the hot water has been discovered way longer than you thought if you try and watch older anime.
 
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#30
Do you guys not really how idiotic “deconstruction” sounds? You could say every magical girl is a deconstruction because they’re all slightly different from the rest.
No deconstruction has a very specific meaning, it doesn't just mean "dark and grim" all it means is taking a common wish-fulfillment trope, like being a magical girl, and applying realistic consequences to it by showing that it's not all cracked up to be and bringing the trope back down to Earth. Both Sailor Moon and Madoka do this hence why they're considered deconstructions, but then you have plenty of Mahou Shojo such as say Wedding Peach, Tokyo Mew Mew or any of the Precures that play the entire genre straight and revel in the fact that they're a Magical Girl so they're not deconstructions in the slightest. They can still deal with dark themes on their own right, nobody's saying they can't, but by the strictest definition of the term they're not deconstructions cause they're not playing around with the very concept of being a Magical Girl and questioning how good it really is to be one.
 

Umino

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#31
No deconstruction has a very specific meaning, it doesn't just mean "dark and grim" all it means is taking a common wish-fulfillment trope, like being a magical girl, and applying realistic consequences to it by showing that it's not all cracked up to be and bringing the trope back down to Earth.
This is probably the most idiotic thing I've heard. Do you seriously think every magical girl show prior to Sailor Moon was all sunshine and rainbows? There's conflict in most of them, just like any piece of fiction. Every single heroine from Sally to Ranze to Mami has suffered from consequences in being a magical girl. I feel like a lot of fans throw the term "deconstruction" around to give themselves some shallow validation. "Oh no! I don't like just any magical girl shows! I like *deconstructed* magical girl shows!" I feel like I'm back in middle school where all my friends would brag about how anime "wasn't for kids" and was "so much better than American cartoons".

Both Sailor Moon and Madoka do this hence why they're considered deconstructions, but then you have plenty of Mahou Shojo such as say Wedding Peach, Tokyo Mew Mew or any of the Precures that play the entire genre straight and revel in the fact that they're a Magical Girl so they're not deconstructions in the slightest. They can still deal with dark themes on their own right, nobody's saying they can't, but by the strictest definition of the term they're not deconstructions cause they're not playing around with the very concept of being a Magical Girl and questioning how good it really is to be one.
I can't speak for Wedding Peach, Tokyo Mew Mew, or Precure, since I haven't seen enough of them. By your argument, the first deconstruction of "magical girl shows" would be Mahou no Mako-chan, which predates Sailor Moon by a good 20 years. Mako is a mermaid who's given a magical pendant, and goes to the human world only to find it sucks. Half of the time her powers don't even work. Mako finds herself in the middle of discrimination, racism, teenage rebellion, suicide, genocide, revenge, substance abuse, etc. Mako has failed to save people on a number of occasions, sometimes resulting in death. Sometimes conflicts aren't resolved, and Mako just has to keep hope.

A similar narrative is used years later with Majokko Megu-chan. Even then, many other magical girls have had similar themes. Chappy can't expose her magical powers for fear of being burned at stake, or punished by her king. Limit is a cyborg who struggles to accept her humanity, or the fact she'll never grow up like other children. Yes, she has cool powers, but all she wants is to be a normal kid. Trust me, Sailor Moon's "dark themes" are nothing special, and certainly aren't a deconstruction.
 
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#32
This is probably the most idiotic thing I've heard. Do you seriously think every magical girl show prior to Sailor Moon was all sunshine and rainbows? There's conflict in most of them, just like any piece of fiction. Every single heroine from Sally to Ranze to Mami has suffered from consequences in being a magical girl. I feel like a lot of fans throw the term "deconstruction" around to give themselves some shallow validation. "Oh no! I don't like just any magical girl shows! I like *deconstructed* magical girl shows!" I feel like I'm back in middle school where all my friends would brag about how anime "wasn't for kids" and was "so much better than American cartoons".



I can't speak for Wedding Peach, Tokyo Mew Mew, or Precure, since I haven't seen enough of them. By your argument, the first deconstruction of "magical girl shows" would be Mahou no Mako-chan, which predates Sailor Moon by a good 20 years. Mako is a mermaid who's given a magical pendant, and goes to the human world only to find it sucks. Half of the time her powers don't even work. Mako finds herself in the middle of discrimination, racism, teenage rebellion, suicide, genocide, revenge, substance abuse, etc. Mako has failed to save people on a number of occasions, sometimes resulting in death. Sometimes conflicts aren't resolved, and Mako just has to keep hope.

A similar narrative is used years later with Majokko Megu-chan. Even then, many other magical girls have had similar themes. Chappy can't expose her magical powers for fear of being burned at stake, or punished by her king. Limit is a cyborg who struggles to accept her humanity, or the fact she'll never grow up like other children. Yes, she has cool powers, but all she wants is to be a normal kid. Trust me, Sailor Moon's "dark themes" are nothing special, and certainly aren't a deconstruction.
Always wanted to watch Mako-chan, but it seems to be impossible to find it anywhere. I don't care about subtitles and quality and you seem to have seen it. Can you help with some links. :D
 

Umino

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#33
I had it on DVD ages ago, but it's since disappeared. I have a few random episodes saved, but I've seen it all. I'm pretty sure you can find the Polish version online somewhere.
 

MementoNepenthe

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Mar 8, 2012
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#35
No deconstruction has a very specific meaning, it doesn't just mean "dark and grim" all it means is taking a common wish-fulfillment trope, like being a magical girl, and applying realistic consequences to it by showing that it's not all cracked up to be and bringing the trope back down to Earth.
Deconstruction is about taking tropes (either of a genre as a whole, of the particular work in which the deconstruction occurs, or of the author's own work as a whole) and subverting them in some way. It's not necessarily about "applying realistic consequences" to them so much as just using them in a way contradictory to established convention and expectation.

I'm not familiar enough with the magical girl genre to say whether or not Sailor Moon does anything to deconstruct the genre's established conventions, but it is certainly not the first series to have a tragic, bittersweet, or happy ending, so however you interpret the conclusion of any of the series' arcs, none of them are grounds for seeing Sailor Moon as a magical girl deconstruction. If you want to make the case that Sailor Moon is a deconstruction of the genre, you're gonna have to put together a much more compelling argument.

One could argue, however, that Tuxedo Mask is himself a deconstruction of the series' own Sailor Soldier trope. He has a Sailor Crystal and is therefore (regardless of what some fans think) himself a Sailor Soldier per the series' rules, but unlike the other Sailors, his outfit doesn't have a sailor collar, he doesn't use a transformation phrase, his alias doesn't follow the "Sailor + Heavenly Body" naming pattern, he never powers up, and, of course, he's a man. In these ways he deconstructs - that is, he contradicts and challenges - the series' idea of a Sailor Soldier.
 

MariaTenebre

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Jul 22, 2009
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#36
Mamoru didn't recognize her from his dreams in Crystal nor manga, nor Classic. He had these dreams in the three versions of the story and in neither of them he recognized her. Whatever version of the story you take, he was drawn to her by invisible force. He might have guessed she was Sailor Moon, but he never knew who the girl in his dreams was. Not until he died and remembered his past life. Destiny plays part in the manga, 90s anime and Crystal in pretty much the same way. In the manga and Crystal Usagi had attraction to Mamoru before knowing his identity. In the 90s she became love sick only after his identity was revealed.
Usagi had attraction to Mamoru in the 90s anime before knowing his identity. That is pretty much the reason she stalked Rei and him on their date because of the fact that she was jealous that Rei got to go out with him. LIkewise in things like the art episode with Yumemi Yumeno she was shown as having attraction to Mamoru.
 
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#37
Usagi had attraction to Mamoru in the 90s anime before knowing his identity. That is pretty much the reason she stalked Rei and him on their date because of the fact that she was jealous that Rei got to go out with him. LIkewise in things like the art episode with Yumemi Yumeno she was shown as having attraction to Mamoru.
True! Thank you for pointing it out. Still I find the premise the same in every incarnation (that I have seen) the same.
 

MariaTenebre

Lumen Cinereum
Jul 22, 2009
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#38
Really the whole relationship between Usagi and Mamoru in the first season is the very well used trope of the love hate relationship. Basically two people who clearly have an attraction to one another but don't know how to express it so they fuss and fight with one another. You see this same trope all over different fictional series but especially anime. You see it in Wedding Peach with Momoko and Yousuke which that show all ready has a very similar story to Sailor Moon and the main couple has a similar story of forbidden love between two people of different worlds. You also see it with Inuyasha and Kagome of Inuyasha which also kind of does the forbidden love angle between two people of different worlds.
 
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#39
Utena is definitely a deconstruction, but more so of the shojo genre, fairytales and society as a whole. I'm in the minority that doesn't consider it a Magical Girl series though. It definitely has elements of one, but it's really more just pure shojo, Utena herself doesn't really have "magical powers" or a traditional transformation sequence.
I agree that Utena is probably not mahou shoujo in the most traditional sense, but I still think it's worth a mention... It deconstructed a lot of tropes common in shoujo, including mahou, and explored a lot of similar themes before Madoka ever did.

One thing I will say in defense of Madoka... It may not have been the first deconstruction by any means, but maybe it's most unique or noteworthy for its presentation. Out of the series I've seen that are similar, I'd say it's definitely the darkest and most unrelenting of its kind. Going by tone and atmosphere alone, it's a stark contrast to what one typically expects from mahou shoujo. The stereotypical mahou shoujo image is cheerful and lighthearted whereas Madoka is much darker and more psychological in nature, more in the vein of something like Evangelion. Sailor Moon has some deconstructive elements, especially towards the end of the manga, but the series overall is lighthearted in nature and with an optimistic outlook. Madoka Magica is a much darker take on a mahou shoujo series, becoming very grim and almost nihilistic at times. Madoka is also much more narrow in scope and in what it sets out to do; the whole series basically takes one trope after another and turns it on its head. Whereas Sailor Moon is much broader in scope and storyline, the deconstructive element is just one part, in other areas it's closer to a regular mahou shoujo.

So I'd say Madoka is probably seen as THE mahou shoujo deconstruction for that reason. If Sailor Moon introduced the concept, Madoka went and ran with it. It does borrow somewhat from the Stars arc of the manga but I guess at least it does something interesting with it... Every idea has been done before, it's how a series presents it that makes the difference. Sailor Moon is better but Madoka is still pretty good in its own right, better than a lot of series out there.
 

Clow

Luna Crescens
Jul 29, 2012
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236
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#40
My position is that if Stars had been adapted into anime back in the 90s exactly like it was in the manga, then Madoka and Sailor Moon Stars would feel very identical.

While watching Madoka for the first time, what came to my mind immediately was the Stars arc of Sailor Moon, manga, of course.

I think Stars is the best arc of the Sailor Moon manga. While reading it, I felt really surprised with Naoko's ideas and how she wasn't willing to compromise the story she wanted to tell. She went as far as killing even the poor cats. Kindly notice that she finalized the Stars arc after the anime ended, so my impression is that she was free to do what she wanted.