ROLa Magazine Interviews Naoko Takeuchi

The third and final part of ROLa Magazine's interview with Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi and editor Fumio Osano has been released. You can read the first two parts here and here.

Shounen Aya:            It must have been very busy for you during the original serialization.
Osano Fumio:            It certainly was. We used to have meetings that lasted long after midnight back then.
Takeuchi Naoko:       That’s true. Back then I used to go to this bookstore in Roppongi to look at manga to get ideas, and I ended up buying way too much. Even though work was so busy back then, sometimes I got to work on sewing, or I would take off in my car on a drive to Izu…
Aya:    All the way to Izu! That’s a shock… Anyway, 20 years have passed and Sailor Moon still hasn’t gotten stale at all, which is amazing. It’s even still really popular abroad. Have you gotten any surprising offers from fans abroad?
Takeuchi:       There was an offer made from Hollywood to make a movie.
Osano: The truth is it's really hard to make a movie adaptation with Hollywood. It would be almost impossible to do without messing up the original work.
AyaYou mean, they’d make the sailor soldiers all muscle-y, amped up beefcakes?!
TakeuchiYes, exactly.
AyaI would hate that. When the serialization of Sailor Moon was running, the anime and musicals were also simultaneously happening, so, Ms. Takeuchi, do you have any thoughts you can share about what it was like doing a mixed media campaign?
TakeuchiI think looking back on it, it’s good to do something different like that. But because I was so young when I was in the thick of it, it felt awful, and there was definitely a part of me that felt it was way too difficult to handle.
AyaOkay, this is the last thing… Can you please share a message with your fans in commemoration of the series’ 20th anniversary, please?
TakeuchiI think for people who are in their 20s and 30s these days, they feel the same way about Sailor Moon that I did for Candy Candy, back when I was first beginning to draw the Sailor Moon series. And I’m happy about that. But I’m also really embarrassed, because my work back then was so sloppy, I was such a rookie, and I didn’t have much professionalism. But I never imagined that 20 years later, this work of mine would still be so popular, and I can’t believe that there are still so many people who love it (laughs). But you know, even when I hear someone say that they love Sailor Moon, that they think it’s beautiful, it makes me really happy to hear that.
AyaThank you for spending your time here, it was really a treasure to have you with us. Sincerest thanks for doing this!
(Interview Complete)
Aya I wonder what Sailor Moon really means to women. I wonder what it is about the series that has such a grip on them.
This is an important question that I wanted to resolve during this year’s series anniversary. Back in June the cosmetic compact went up for pre-order on the Bandai site, and the traffic was so overwhelming that the server crashed. Continuing on with the figurines, the sales for those have been fantastic, and when the musicals began back in September, the audience was 80% female. You could hear the cries of the audience during the show, some of them had tears streaming down their faces from a combination of nostalgia and from being involved in the series they all loved and remember from childhood. You could feel the intense passion for the series in the atmosphere during the performances. So I have to wonder what it is about Sailor Moon. Between interviewing the goddess [Naoko Takeuchi] herself, and talking with fans, I’ve been flooded with many emotions myself, but through it all I’ve been thinking about the topic of “hope” that this series creates.
Sailor Moon is our hope. She’s never shaken, she never becomes obscure, she’s bedazzled, and I think that’s what we all hope to be like.
When Naoko Takeuchi created the series back in the early 1990s, it was immediately after the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was passed, which enabled women everywhere to go out into the world. It was in such perfect timing that the sailor soldiers appeared, perfect visions of newfound freedom, presenting a new type of woman.
And with this new freedom, women became stronger. They could go out, beautifully, and tackle strong enemies. In a way that none of us would be able to do individually.
And then there were the sailor soldiers, in their fluttering sailor collars and mini skirts, fighting along courageously. Women all over the world were given a battle cry and rallied around this image.

Freedom and Hope
Shouting out the phrase “Make Up!” was a new phenomenon. For the first time, it wasn’t being used to get “love” from the opposite sex, or to be a “mask,” but it was used for genuine self satisfaction. On top of that, her super-decked out costume was pretty much nonfunctional. It wasn’t designed to be evaluated and judged by others, but was an expression of an individualistic fashion choice that one could fight strongly and proudly in. Maybe it had some influence on the Gyaru and Harajuku fashion scenes. If you told me you thought it was cute, then it is! And that’s strength.
In the real world, a woman’s make up choices are her “manners.” When I think about it, I think that’s kind of funny. Women are under a certain obligation to look pure and clean. and beautiful all the time (maybe due to the pressures of the “old grandpas” like we talked about before!) One of Sailor Moon’s major achievements is that it takes advantage of the idea that makeup is a spell, an incantation one can use – that idea is shown in many of its major scenes with the sailor soldiers.
An essential part of the story revolves around the bonds between women, and depictions of their friendships. Just hanging around, eating pizzas, talking all night long, or eating sweets and snacks. Of course, they face battles too, but in the end the main thing that brings them to victory is their cooperative effort. A common trope is that a woman’s enemy is women , which we see in shows like Sex and the City, but for the sailor soldiers this isn’t the case.
The male hero of this work, Tuxedo Mask, was an entirely new creation as well. He would show up, throwing a rose at the enemy any time the sailor soldiers found themselves in a pinch. He’s a really cool character, but he’s practically powerless, and is usually protected by the brave female characters. Some people may laugh at that kind of man, but I think it’s a good thing. He’s delicate like a flower. And among all those women, he’s the only guy, and handsome to boot. And it’s possible that this trope of the useless male surrounded by pretty heroines came from this series. And maybe that’s the point. That women can complete missions on their own. That women can be protectors and lovers.
This inversion of genders, a gender swap between the stereotypical hero and heroine, was a great innovation. Tuxedo Mask, who never has to put on a macho front, is an incredibly well-liked and popular character, and his humility and vulnerability is an important aspect of that. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to have a man who can support women in their battles?
This work’s ability to give women a way to express their style and freedom is immeasurable. 20 years have passed since then. Unfortunately, social pressures on girls are still pretty tight. Women everywhere are still desperately fighting society for their freedoms, and they have to have a tough skin to get by. I think that’s why, universally, the sailor soldiers are such an inspiration. At the theater where the musical was held, you could almost feel the tension in the air – that’s why there was such a flood of orders for the transformation compacts; it’s because of the enthusiasm we still have for those ideals.
Sailor Moon, we may not end up like you in the end, but we’re still going to continue the fight, and we won’t give up. Because you’re the hope of women everywhere. Maybe in the future we’ll unite as one. I believe we will. So from now on, I’m going to fight with my face held high. And when I get discouraged, I’ll sentimentally think about you. And together we’ll both shout – Moon Prism Power, Make Up!
Mr. Osabu and Shounen Aya talk about Sailor Moon to exhaustion!!

On October 1st, a talk event happened at B&B in Shimokitazawa between Mr. Fumio Osano and Shounen Aya. The event wrapped in fans’ enthusiasm came to an end in great success. Although it’s a digest, we bring to you the extremely precious words that flew from Mr. Osano’s mouth. Please be satisfied with this special evening party.

Aya: You helped me out so much during Ms. Naoko Takeuchi’s interview. Thank you so much. It was like a dream come true.
Osano: Thank you as well.
Aya: Getting right into it, first I’d like to ask about Ms. Takeuchi’s original manga. It’s difficult to tell when you print it, but I was very surprised when I heard that Ms. Takeuchi’s original manga has many things with beads and lace attached.
Osano: It was an extremely troublesome original manga for us (laughs). Which is to say, and this becomes a specialized discussion, but you can’t print illustrations with 3D objects attached with regular offset printing. You need to take a picture of the illustration, then print it using a manufacturing process where you circulate that photo in the printing press, so it’s an illustration that makes editors and print shops cry. On top of that, there’s the possibility that beads, etc will come plopping off when moving it, so it’s a pain to handle. Therefore, I pleaded “Please refrain from attaching 3D objects” with Ms. Takeuchi several times, but she didn’t care (laughs). However, looking at it after several decades, each drawing is incredibly wonderful… Those illustrations made me cry at that time, but thinking back on it, I definitely feel that she was right.
Aya: It’s practically a work of art.

She kisses him and faces battle
Aya: I’d also like to ask you about the content of the manga – which scene are you most emotionally attached to?
Osano: I knew you’d ask me this, so I thought about my answer ahead of time (laughs). The scene I have the most emotional attachment to is the scene in act eight when Sailor Moon gives Tuxedo Mask a kiss of her own volition and faces battle. In the preparation meeting for act eight, Ms. Takeuchi didn’t say, “Add a kiss scene,” but when it became more actualized, that scene was added. My heart was stolen as soon as I saw it.
Aya: Kissing a boy and jumping into the battle front — How cool… By the way, the scene I like is the last scene of act 49. After the battle with the Dead Moon group ended, Usagi gazes forward and says, “The fact that my chest feels so warm is proof that the Earth is shining.” Of course Ms. Takeuchi’s picture sense came into play, but I think that her way with words is exceptional.

It Varies from Country to Country
AyaPeople all around the world have been reading ROLa’s interview with Naoko Takeuchi, but it seems that fans in Italy were the very first to publish a full translation.
OsanoThat’s right… I bet there are Italians reading this one right now, too… Speaking of which, did you know that Umino was totally replaced in the Italian version of the anime?
AyaW-why would they do something like that…?
OsanoUmino is a character who wears these giant swirling glasses. But I guess in Italy, wearing glasses is a sign of physical inferiority, and they didn’t want to promote a character that had that problem, so we thought it would be impossible to air him as is. So in Italy, Umino’s glasses aren’t really made such a focus in the Italian anime. Also in Indonesia, there were a ton of cuts for various religious reasons. For example, Sailor Saturn was removed as much as possible for some mysterious reason.
Aya: I had heard about some places changing the relationship between Uranus and Neptune as well…but they shouldn’t have changed the story at all. Come to think of it, Ms. Takeuchi came up with the name for the story pretty early on, isn’t that right?
Osano: Sailor Moon took about a week to settle on, but we decided on Sailor V right away. And during the second print of Sailor Moon, we decided to write it a little differently. But for Sailor V, we didn’t need to change a thing.
Aya: Maybe that’s because Sailor V is short in comparison…
Osano: With Sailor V, Ms. Takeuchi had a lot more freedom to draw it exactly as she wanted, whereas with Sailor Moon there was a lot more supervision, there was just a lot more on the line. As the story went on, the hype for the series became greater and greater, and so we couldn’t afford any missteps. When it finally ended, Ms. Takeuchi was so relieved not to have to face the pressures surrounding it anymore. Toward the end of the comic, Ms. Takeuchi used to take so much inspiration from Enka song lyrics that I used to think she ought to have gotten permission from JASRAC to use their work (laughs)
Aya: When I hear about you and Ms. Takeuchi, the relationship between you two reminds me quite a lot of the relationship between Usagi and Luna. In any case, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I can’t wait to see more of the development plans for Sailor Moon’s 20th anniversary!

Read the rest of the interview at the source.