Saturday, January 30, 2010

THIS is the best Tuxedo Kamen motivational poster parody I could find. . .

Reason Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #8: Mamoru Chiba #1

As I mentioned in Part #7, there was more of the script that I wanted to include, but didn't. Specifically, I wanted to include a scene introducing Mamoru Chiba and explaining how Luna makes it to Usagi's neighborhood. I stopped where I did partly due to time constraints, and partly because it getting pretty clear that I would need to put more thoguht into how I introduce Mamoru. I had the basic idea already, it was just that I needed to sort out the details. I think I've at least a good tentative job of that, so we can continue. I also mentioned in Part #7.5 that there were a few things I would like to change in what I've already written. Mainly, as far as this part goes, is how I would describe the Luna-sense. I'll give a bit of a taste of that in this part.

This section of the script begins with the very last chunk of the previous exerpt. You may notice that it's been changed slightly from the previous version to reflect the changes I noted in #7.5. As I noted before, I'm not familiar with certain police and transportation procedures, and my knowledge of drug use (you'll see) pretty much amounts to what I've seen in the movies, so what I describe is likely not how it "really" happens. At the same time, though, I'm hoping at this point that the most that needs to be changed are a few lines of dialogue. And besides that, I'm just trying to convey the basic story, blah blah blah just like I said last time.

So where were we?

LUNA exits the yard and looks in the direction JESSY was heading. She sees JESSY rounding a corner two blocks away-- impossibly far. LUNA sprints down the sidewalk toward JESSY, slowing down as she approaches the corner. She sneaks up to the corner, her LUNA-SENSE wailing.

As she comes up to the corner, she waits. The LUNA-SENSE is getting stronger-- something is coming. LUNA waits for a moment, readying herself for whatever is coming. . .

Suddenly, a TEENAGE BOY runs past the corner and across the street. He's 17 years old, tall and well built. He's wearing a mask and dark clothing, and carrying a BLUE BACKPACK. The audience doesn't know it yet, but this boy is actually MAMORU CHIBA. We see ROSE PEDALS appear to fall off from him-- LUNA realizes that it was MAMORU who triggered her LUNA-SENSE as she was rounding the corner. In the distance we hear police pursuing MAMORU on foot.

Yet, rather then continue running, MAMORU stops, looking at LUNA.



MAMORU points at a CAR that LUNA is standing beside, then at LUNA again. MAMORU chuckles.


(tentatively) I . . . remember you, Koneko-chan. (excited) Ha! I remember! (pointing at LUNA) That is exactly, like, right there beside the-- that bloody Honda!

The POLICE are apporaching. MAMORU spots them.


I think I'm gonna be alright. Ja!

MAMORU runs off. LUNA looks back in the direction JESSY went. Two PURSUING POLICE OFFICERS run by. There's no sign of JESSY. LUNA looks back and forth between the directions MAMORU and JESSY went. She's clearly torn about where to go.



Jessy. . .

After a beat, LUNA reluctantly begins pursuit of MAMORU. She runs on the road, such that the parked cars on the street lie between her and the sidewalk, so as not to be seen. At full sprint, she is easily able to catch up with the police. MAMORU is still about a hundred feet ahead. After a couple of beats, he darts into an alleyway. The two OFFICERS are at a street corner.


I'll go down the alley. You try and cut him off!

P.O. #2

Got it!

P.O. #2 runs along toward the other end of the alley, while P.O. #1 follows MAMORU, drawing a weapon.

EXT. Alleyway - NIGHT. Mamoru runs down the alley, looking for a particular door.


(to himself)

Ichi-ichi-hachi-ichi? Ichi-hahci-ichi-hachi? Hachi-hachi-ichi-hachi? Ichi. . .

MAMORU stops in front of a door with a KEYPAD lock.



MAMORU quickly enters the code "1881" into the KEYPAD. The door unlocks. P.O. #1 is seen in the background entering the alley, with LUNA close behind. The OFFICER sees MAMORU enter the doorway. He runs to try toward the door, but Mamoru closes and locks it behind him.

P.O. #1

Shit! (Into Radio) This is Mastumoto. Be advised, suspect has enetered a building along (gives location). He gained entrance without force, so he might a redisent or employee. Where's that backup I requested? We need to seal the building.


Units are on their way, ETA two minutes.

P.O. #1

(into Radio)

Endo, you cover the front entrance.

P.O. #2

(over radio)

Already on it.

P.O. #1

(Into building)

This is the police. Come out slowly with your hands up. Patrol units are on their way, there's no escape. . .

INT. Apartment. A family-- FATHER, MOTHER, and SON-- is watching a J-drama on TV. Suddenly, MAMORU enters the apartment. He has removed his mask and black coat, which he is stuffing into his BACKPACK. We see he is wearing a RED SHIRT with black, stylish KANJI written on it.


(running past, pointing at TV)

Oh, this is a GREAT one! Excuse me!

The FAMILY stare at MAMORU as he runs toward the fire escape. They're not quite sure what to make of this. Once he's at the fire escape, he turns toward the family.


Thank you for not making any noise! You're gonna love this. Misato does something so crazy in-- just watch, you'll know what I mean! Oh, and you should change your entry code.

MAMORU steps out the exit, quietly closing the window behind him. After a beat, the SON finally decides to say something.


How would he know? This is brand new.

The FATHER, as if snapping out of a stupor, realizes he probably should have done something, and tries to pursue MAMORU long after he's left.


Hey! Get back here! Hey!


He must have torrented it or something.

EXT. Alleyway - NIGHT. P.O. #1 is still standing at the rear door. LUNA spots something near the end of the alley from which she and P.O. #1 entered. It's MAMORU, climbing out of a second floor fire escape. A PATROL CAR drives up near the opposite end of the alleyway, briefly attracting the attention of P.O. #1. MAMORU lands and walks out of the alley without the officer noticing. LUNA pursues MAMORU.


(over P.O. #1's radio)

Be advised. Trespassing reported near your location, address (gives address). Suspect reported to have entered home and subsequently climbed out a fire escape.

P.O. #1 looks over toward the fire escape and runs towards it, cursing himself.

EXT. Street- NIGHT

P.O. #1 emerges from the alley. He just barely sees MAMORU running down another street.

P.O. #1

Stop where you are!

MAMORU bolts down the street. LUNA follows.

EXT. Metro Train Platform. MAMORU runs up to the platform, entering a train just as it arrives. Luna, arriving a few seconds afterward, tries to follow, but she is grabbed by a CONDUCTOR.


Won't take a hint, huh? I should have called animal control on you to begin with.

The CONDUCTOR is about to take LUNA away when police officers, including P.O. #1 and P.O. #3, arrive. The train is just pulling away as they arrive.

P.O. #1

Stop that train!


What? -- Hey!

In the CONDUCTOR's moment of distraction, LUNA manages to fight her way free. She runs toward the train, as does P.O. #1.

P.O. #3

Stop the damn train! We're in pursuit of a suspect!


Uh, I-- I can't! We'll have to contact dispatch! They can hold the train at the next stop.

LUNA manages to jump between train cars onto a connector hinge, effectively if dangerously hitching a ride. P.O. #1 runs alongside the train, peeking inside the cars in order to spot MAMORU.

INT - Train Car.

We see P.O. #1 peeking through the window. He then appears to spot his target on the opposite end of the car.

P.O. #1

(barely audible)

Confirmed! Subject is on train!

P.O. #1 disappears as the train gains speed. We then pan down and sideways to reveal that MAMORU was, in fact, sitting with his back to the window on the same of the car as P.O. #1.



You got good taste.

We then cut to reveal a young man (we'll call him DOUBLE), the same height as MAMORU but slightly thinner, wearing the same clothes as MAMORU -- his shirt even has the same DISTINCTIVE KANJI-- and the same style of BLUE BACKPACK. He has an air of "douchebag" about him.

(I don't about you, but I think it would be pretty funny if Jyoji Shibue made a cameo appearance to play DOUBLE. Wouldn't that be funny?)


Your clothes, I mean. Very eye-catching.

DOUBLE doesn't respond.

EXT. Connector Hinge- NIGHT

We cet to LUNA, hanging on for dear life to the connector hinge. As the train rounds a corner, LUNA nearly loses her grip, but regains her hold after the train straightens out.

INT - Train Car.

The train begins to slow down.


This is your stop, isn't it?

DOUBLE flips MAMORU the bird. MAMORU chuckles-- DOUBLE doesn't quite know what to make of that. As the train stops, DOUBLE gets up and gets off the train, staring at MAMORU the whole time.


(after DOUBLE has left train, still chuckling)

Thank you for making me feel better about this, asshole.

EXT. Train Platform, Next Stop-- NIGHT.

Security personnel have assembled on the platform. As DOUBLE exits the train, they order him to get down on the ground. When he doesn't cooperate, they grab him throw him down.


(into radio)

Subject apprehended. Awaiting police arrival.


Understood. In that case, we'll resume regular service. No need to hold everyone up.

LUNA gets off the connector hinge and approaches. However, she pausesm realizing her LUNA-SENSE isn't responding to DOUBLE. The train starts to move as as police sirens approach.


Idiots! You want the other guy! Not me!


Shut up!

LUNA looks toward the train. She sees a couple of ROSE-PETALS falling of a car, and realizes that MAMORU is still on the train. LUNA makes a run for the already departing train and tries to jump onto a connector hinge, like before. This time, though, she doesn't get as good a grip, and after a few seconds, she loses grip and falls toward the ground!

EXT. Yet Another Alleyway- NIGHT.

Three YOUNG MEN, probably college age, are joking around and laughing, except for YOUNG MAN #1, who looks nervous. It won't be stated explicitly, but from they're behaviour it'll clear that they've been toking up.

MAN #1

I think I hear sirens.

MAN #2 and MAN #3 continue to laugh, ignoring MAN #1.

MAN #1

Did you hear me? There are sirens! We gotta get out of here.

We can hear the METRO approaching.

MAN #2


Yeah, you're right. You're right. Tokyo M.P.D. is sending squad cars after us, man. We represent an exis-- (giggles)-- tential threat to the social order.

MAN #3

Why do we keep letting you come out with us? Why do you even want to come out with us? It's not like you ever have a good time.

MAN #2

Yeah, you just freak out over everything. Wait, shh. . . (whispering) I think the sirens are getting closer.

MAN #1

Shut up.

The METRO is getting closer.

MAN #3

(playing along)

Yeah, you're right. Oh no! THEY'RE ON TO US, MAN!

The METRO is getting closer.

MAN #1

Shut up! You know what, something. . . is gonna happen back here. Something is. . . is gonna find us.

The METRO passes overhead.

MAN #3

Sure, man.

MAN #1

Yeah, "sure man"! It will! And when it does, we're not even gonna know it--

At that moment, LUNA lands on top of MAN #1. He panics and falls over, pushing LUNA off of him. She lies on the ground, unconscious, with a cut near her CRESCENT-MOON SPOT. The three men stare at the cat. Then, after a beat, MAN #2 and MAN #3 break into laughter.

MAN #2

Aw, man! That was awesome!

MAN #3

(to MAN #1)

You should've seen yourself!

MAN #1

I think he's hurt. He needs help.

MAN #2

(trying, and failing, to hold back his laughter)

No, -pfft- . . . no, you're right. (giggles, then tries to look serious) This is what we've spent years training for at medical sch--(laughs)

MAN #2 and MAN #3 both break out into laughter. MAN #2 reaches into his pocket and produces a package of BANDAIDS, which prompts more laughter from MAN #3. MAN #2 removes a bandage from the box and applies it over LUNA's CRESCENT MOON SPOT. MAN #2 and MAN #3 break out into laughter again.

MAN #2

It's days like this I remember (giggles) why I became a doctor! (laughs)

MAN #3

Oh man! I'm hungry guys. Let's get some dinner. (to MAN #1) Come on, let's go.

The THREE MAN leave. LUNA continues to lie on the ground, unconscious. We fade out.

Yes, I did just put a scene with three stoned medical students in my Sailor Moon movie screenplay. Way to show that my movie will be kid friendly!

Mamoru Chiba Will Return. . . in Part #9

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This is How I Deal with Getting in a Car Accident. . . (I'll explain later)

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #7.5: Rewrites!

Usagi Tsukino reacts to Jeremy's Sailor Moon Screenplay.

Seriously though, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback for the first piece of my Sailor Moon screenplay, and I want to thank everyone who has commented or even just read this series up to now.

I've decided to get started on how I would handle Mamoru Chiba. As I mentioned in the comments for Part #7, I'm planning to do both a character sketch and another piece (maybe two!) of the screenplay. As a result of this, I may have to divide Mamoru Chiba's section into two parts.

Until then, I thought I would mention a few things I'd like to change in the first part of the screenplay. Even though I thought I had a pretty solid idea of how I wanted to structure the first part, upon reflection there are a few things I'd change. These changes would mostly be in the form of additions to what's already present. I wanted to mention these changes because they'll play a part in the screenplay chunk that I'll be writing for Part #8.

There are two main changes:

1) The "Luna-sense." I originally thought that it was best to leave the implementation of the Luna-sense to the director, but then I thought that I could describe it in more detail. Here's what I would do differently.

I think that the Luna-sense should be more visual, and should communicate things to the viewer in a way that gives him/her a better idea of what Luna is perceiving. For example, in the blood clinic when Luna detects the former presense of whatever was there, we'll see discoloured fumes (indicating odor-- I'll explain that in a minute) and faint animal tracks, and hear grotesque animal sounds, hinting at the nature of the beast. This is just an initial idea, and as such is subject to further revision and thought. The main reason I wanted to introduce this idea has to do mainly with the person who I would want to direct a Sailor Moon movie, which I'll discuss in more detail in a later part.

Speaking of the beast. . .

2) The "Youma"

(Note: the reasons for putting "Youma" in quotation marks have to do with the villain of my movie, whose identity you may already have figured out from the script)

After thinking about it, I realized that not enough explanation is really given for why a "youma" would just happen to strike at the very place Luna is living. I also realized that the villains would probably want to keep tabs on the clinic, without neccessarily remaining there themselves. So, I decided to make the following changes:

- Between the last scene in the blood clinic and the train scene, insert a scene of. . . "something," sitting in the shadows. "Something" will make low animal noises, like a dog, and will also take long breaths with its "nose," indicating that it it follows scent. We'll see Luna leave the clinic as this happens.

- After Luna has returned to the mansion, insert a scene showing "something" following the train tracks on which Luna travelled, indicating that "something" is following Luna, or at least her scent.

- Show Jessy first entering the Mansion from "something's" perspective.
"Something" will have difficulty breathing at this point, for reasons as yet left unknown.

- Insert a scene showing that "something" has gotten its hands on a cat. It'll be behind a fence, so we won't see which cat it is or what happens to it.

- After the "Rhett Butler" scene, show Jessy coming down the stairs. She'll see an animal on the ground, and talk to it like it's any other animal. We'll only see Jessy from waist up, so we won't know what she's talking to. After a few seconds, Jessy will see something off camera that worrys her. Then she'll feel something wrong. . .

- After Luna comes down stairs, insert a scene of Luna in the background, and an emaciated dog, unseen by Luna, in the foreground. The dog is of the same breed as the one in the blood clinic.

- Finally, change the opening dialogue to include reference to "something."

More changes, undoubtably, will come. But in the meantime, I have a screenplay to finish.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm Actually Doing It!!

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #7: Look! I'm Writing the Sailor Moon Movie!

... by which I mean I'm actually beginning the process of writing a screenplay in my spare time.

The next topic I was going to discuss in this series was how I would handle Luna. Like everything else thusfar, my approach would be different from "the usual." Originally, I was going to write a character sketch for Luna, much like I did for the others so far. However, a couple of things have prompted me to take a different approach this time.

The first is that, while I have layed out a few neat ideas I had, I've not really shown what my movie would actually look like. That is, how would I actually write a Sailor Moon movie? What would my dialogue sound like? How would I structure a scene, or handle exposition of vital information? A big part of this exercise, for me, is trying to prove to myself that I can do something like this. If I can write this screenplay well, then I can write another screenplay well, maybe even better. And that screenplay, unlike this one, would be based on ideas that are entirely my own.

The second thing that happened is related to comment left on the last part. That comment mentioned the need for this movie to be accessible for younger audiences. I agree that this is something that needs to be addressed in this series, and it's something that was bothering me even before I starting writing Part #6. Part of what I wanted to do in those previous posts was to show that my version of Sailor Moon wouldn't be total joke like, say, Speed Racer. But I also realize the worst thing a Sailor Moon movie could do is take itself completely seriously, or alienate the many kids who would want to see it.

So I got thinking: I want to do a Luna post anyway, and my take on Luna would be pretty much laid out at the beginning of the movie, so. . . why not start writing it? Thus. . . I present the beginning of my version of Sailor Moon.

A few things to get out of the way. First, I need to mention that what I'm about to show you is tentative and subject to future revision. Second, I've tried to keep in the technical aspects that go into a real script, e.g. distinguishing between interior and exterior shots, specifying types of shots, and so on, but I haven't obsessed over it. My main goal is to get the story across. Third, there are a few bureaucratic details, e.g. how the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is organized, the procedure involved in a Japanese criminal investigation, etc., that are included in the script that I'm not, as yet, 100% sure about. I've tried to be as accurate as I can, but unfortunately "as accurate as I can" is pretty much limited to Wikipedia at this point. Again, I figure it doesn't matter too much at this point since I'm just trying to get the story across. Finally, the script is written entirely in English, but I envision it as a bilingual movie, with the majority of the dialogue in Japanese. I won't explain which parts are in which language unless it's not clear from the context. Typically, when Americans talk to each other, they speak in English, when Japanese people speak it's in Japanese, when Americans talk to Japanese, it's in Japanese unless stated otherwise.

Having finished writing it, I'm not sure how happy I am about it. The part I like least is actually the first part, which is really one of the last revisions I made to the piece. I'm also not terribly happy about the Queen Serenity piece (you'll know what I mean when you see it). I feel it may be revealing too little and too much, if that makes any sense. . . I guess a better way to say it is that it reveals all the wrong things, or reveals things that may be repeated later. I wanted it to be funnier too. However, I wasn't sure if I could add humour without it seeming forced. Again, this is what rewrites are for (Reason I should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #7.5: I Know When I Suck)

Well, with that out of the way, let's dive in to Sailor Moon: The Movie v. 1.0!

NOTE: I case you read this and wonder who the hell some of these characters are, I'll note that "Wakagi," and "Marie" were characters in the Codename: Sailor V manga. As for "Darien Mundy," I'll refer you to a TVTrope.

We open to black. We hear a cellular phone communication between a MALE and FEMALE. The conversation is in Japanese, and we see their conversation in subtitles. The MALE's subtitles occupy the left side of the screen, the FEMALE's occupy the right side.


What's the status of the operation?


Phase thirteen complete, sir. All energy acquired.

We hear moaning in the background.


Any sign of our secondary target?


None, sir.


Hmm. (beat) I trust you made plenty of noise?


Of course sir. I made sure people noticed. I even placed calls to the police and the press myself.


I see. How rude of an old friend not to visit. . . Return to headquarters.


Should I wait?


No. If she was going to show up, she would have done so by now.


Professor. . . how sure are you that she will turn up? How do we know that there is a target to be found?


(after a beat)

Return to headquarters.

EXT. Tokyo - NIGHT

Cut to a aerial shot over Tokyo, with a waning moon in the sky. The scene cuts between various Tokyo landmarks-- Shinjuku district, Minato distict, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree, the famous crosswalk in Shibuya, etc.--showing the vibrancy of the city.

We then go to street level. We follow a BLACK CAT, LUNA, as she makes hew way through various Tokyo alleys. Luna has a distinctive UPSIDE-DOWN CRESCENT MOON on her forehead, which looks like a bald spot from a distance. She also wears a COLLAR, which at the moment has an antenna sticking out from it.

As we watch this, we hear various JAPANESE RADIO BROADCASTS in the background. Eventually, we hear and ENGLISH RADIO BROADCAST, which alternates between the JAPANESE ones. The JAPANESE BROADCASTS contain basically the same information as the ENGLISH BROADCAST.


In political news, Upper House member Takashi Hino continues to face criticism for his connections to Saturn Airlines executives. . . Renovations continue at the Tokyo Sky Tree. The renovations, which began just a year after the building's grand opening, continue to face delays. . . Big news for fans of anime and manga: Marie Baishaku, creator of the Pretty Soldier Sailor V series, will be making a rare appearance at the DaiCon science fiction convention later thiss week. The reclusive mangaka. . . Dr. Souichi Tomoe, the famous and controversial University of Tokyo geneticist, will be honoured this Friday at a major gala event. Local dignitaries, including Diet members, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Prime Minister Hatoyama and even Emperor Akihito are expected to attend. . . This just coming in over our news wire. Though we have yet to receive confirmation, it appears that there has been another outbreak of the mysterious "sleeping sickness," this time at a blood drive in Minato ward.

EXT. Blood Clinic Entrance - NIGHT. Police officers and medical personnel swarming a blood clinic. A few reporters are also at the scene, separated from the building by a police barrier. Among them is English speaking reporter DARIEN MUNDY and his TV crew. We DOLLY DOWN to street level to reveal LUNA facing away from the camera toward the building. The antenna retracts into her collar as she comes into frame. We continue to hear the RADIO BROADCAST until the antenna retracts.

CUT to DARIEN MUNDY. He's reviewing his notes with his crew while an assistant applies make-up.


(back and fourth with his crew)

"Sleep from overwork?" Really? Christ, I still cannot believe THAT'S the official line. . . Alright, so this makes it, what, the tenth--? Thirteenth instance, okay. Yada yada thirteenth instance since it first struck in February. . . Never see any hazmat at these things, I don't if that's a good sign or bad. . . I mean, it always happens in public, which to me suggests it's contagious, or -- I dunno. . . I hear Wakagi might be-- superintendent-general Wakagi. I hear he's been coming to the scene. I wonder what his interest is? It's more than professional. Maybe we can catch him, but I doubt it. We'll try though.

As DARIEN speaks to his crew, we see LUNA sneak into an alley behind him.

EXT. Alley - NIGHT.

Two POLICE OFFICERS are standing watch at a rear exit. The door is being held open by a chair.


(pointing to street)

All the press out there is gonna be worse by the time Wakagi arrives, so we'll need to get all the paramedics in through the back. We can't find the key to this door, so we're gonna keep it open. Keep watch, no-one gets in other than medical personnel.


Yes sir.

OFFICER #1 enters the building, exiting scene. LUNA tries to approach the door, but OFFICER #2 sees her and blocks her way.


Hey! Go on, get out out of here.

LUNA tries to run in, but OFFICER #2 pushes her away with his foot, almost kicking her.


Get lost!

LUNA runs further down the alley, hiding behind a garbage bin. OFFICER #2 relaxes against the wall. After a few beats, we hear a voice from further up the alley. The audience won't know it yet, but the voice actually belongs to LUNA.


What did he do to you?


(Towards Luna)



He kicked you.


Ma'am, this area is under quarantine. I'm gonna have to ask you to--


He KICKED you! (meows) Blood everywhere. Guts. (meows loudly) They sent you. . . frozen in a pod. . . from the moon.


(muttering to himself) They said they cleared everyone. . . (into radio) This is Masuo, I need assistance at the east entrance. I have a female subject who has disobeyed quarantine.


Five millions years. That Kussotare! He kicked you! (Meows loudly)


Subject appears to be mentally ill.


Stupid Kussotare. Kono yarou!

OFFICER #2 slowly makes his way down the alley, keeping a watch on the door as he does so. He reaches for his weapon.


(to himself)

You're lucky I'm on duty, or I'd. . .

(to Luna)

Ma'am, another officer is on the way.


He broke the chip. (distressed sounding meow). Bastard. Now I'll have to operate. (wailing meow)

LUNA's wailing scares OFFICER #2. He pulls out his weapon and makes his way more quickly down the alley, no longer focused on the door.


Ma'am! Stop what you're doing!

As OFFICER #2 gets further from the door, LUNA emerges from behind the garbage bin and enters the door the instant before another OFFICER appears.


Where's the subject?


I can't see her. She was just here. I'll check down the alley.

INT- Blood Drive Hallway & Back Room.

LUNA carefully makes her way down a hallway. A police officer and a few medical personnel are present, but are too busy to see LUNA. LUNA now seems to aware of something beyond the reach of the senses. Let's call it her LUNA-SENSE. This will happen often in the movie, and should be conveyed by a musical cue, sound or visual effects, or a combination of these. As she walks down the hall, we hear some BACKGROUND CHATTER.


We need to clear out the hall to move the bodies. . . They're not BODIES. They're still alive. . . Well, they're not mobile, so they may as well be. . . Do we have security tape? Maybe we. . . Erased? Who's in charge of security? . . . He's in there with all the rest. . .

LUNA, as if guided, enters a back room. We see an open window, with a blowing curtain. LUNA examines this for a beat with a disappointed look on her face, then quickly darts behind a door as a man approaches down the hall. When the person is past the doorway, LUNA leaves the back room and follows the man. As she follows him, her LUNA-SENSE grows stronger, and she becomes a little anxious. We hear more BACKGROUND CHATTER.


Why would the tape be erased? Have we confirmed the location of all employees? . . . Most are in that room, everyone else has been contacted. . . Make sure we get a statement from each of them. . . I want something to give to Wakagi. He seems to think this is actually a police matter.

LUNA follows the man through a door into the main clinic.

INT- Main Clinic.

About fifteen people are afflicted with the "sleeping sickness," and are being attended to by MEDICAL PERSONNEL. Some are slumped into chairs, others on the floor, others against the walls. Despite the name, they aren't really "asleep." They're in a state more like extreme lethargy, with a slight pallor.


Pulse 40 BPM, skin pallor, no pupil dilation. . . If you can understand me, squeeze my hand. . . non-responsive when prompted. . . Same as in all previous cases. . .

LUNA stealthily approaches one of the victims, a teenage girl. She tries nudging the girl, but she doesn't respond. We hold on this shot for a beat as LUNA examines the lifeless girl. A commotion arises from outside the building.


Looks like the Superintendent has arrived. . . What the hell do we tell him?

SUPERINTENDENT-GENERAL WAKAGI enters the scene. He's carrying a REPORT. A LIEUTENANT approaches him.


Good evening Superintendent.


Lieutenant. What's our situation?


Same as in all previous cases, sir. We've apprehended everyone who was in the vicinity at the time of the incident, and we've set up a search radius. . . sir, if I may ask--


You may not. (Holds up the REPORT) I trust you've distributed the report from the Public Security Bureau I commissioned.


Yes sir, but isn't this outside of their juris--



Er, yes sir. Um, I should note, sir, that one of our officers reported a vagrant in vicinity not too long ago. We've not yet apprehended the subject, but we're searching as we speak. She appears to be mentally. . .

WAKAGI and the LIEUTENANT walk out of scene. LUNA looks around the room. She spots an officer set copy of the REPORT on a table at the far end of the main clinic. After the officer walks away from the table, LUNA approaches the table and jumps on top of it. After quickly glancing to ensure that no-one can see her, LUNA stares at the report. As she does so, the report appears to float on the table. Then, in an instant, the report vanishes, appearing to be "sucked" into Luna's collar! LUNA appears to buckle slightly, as though carrying an extra weight.


(from outside of the main clinic)

What the hell?!

LUNA darts under the table. We hear a commotion outside from one of the hallways.


(from outside of the main clinic)

How did he get in here?


(from outside of the main clinic)

He was trapped in one of the side offices.

Suddenly, A dog enters the main clinic, pursued by two officers. The dog searches about the room, and eventually finds the teenage girl LUNA was examining earlier. The dog whines and nudges the girl, trying to get her to respond. We hold on LUNA as she looks at this scene, forlornly.

INT- Commuter Train Car- NIGHT

LUNA lies on a bench seat, saddened by what she saw at the blood clinic. Even though this is Tokyo, the train car is mostly empty. The train comes to a stop, and a MOTHER and four year old BOY come on board. The BOY spots LUNA and becomes excited!


(pointing at LUNA)

Look! A cat! A cat!


(Playing along with the BOY)

Yes, I see it! I wonder where his owner is?

The MOTHER looks around. LUNA raises her head, intrigued by the attention she's received. The BOY tries to go closer to LUNA, but his MOTHER won't let go of his hand.


Can I play?


We don't know where his owner is.

LUNA stands up and meows.


He's pretty!


Yes he is! He's a really pretty cat, but I don't think his owner is on the train. I wonder if he was left behind?


Can we have him?


No, no. We can't have him.


But he doesn't have an owner.


We don't know that. Maybe his owner forgot him, or maybe he came on the train on his own.


He can't come aboard on his own!


Yes he can!



Yes he can! There are dogs in Moscow--


What's Moscow?


Moscow's a city. It's the biggest city in Russia,--


Bigger than Tokyo?


Well, I don't know about that, but it's big, and there are dogs there who take the subway to get where they need to go. Maybe he's-- (MOTHER'S cell phone rings) Oh, who's that? (into phone) Mushi Mushi.

LUNA is now standing upright on the seat, looking at the BOY. The MOTHER has ley go of the BOY's hand. The BOY slowly walks over toward LUNA.


Hello kitty!

LUNA meows. BOY jumps with excitement, then covers his eyes.


Inai inai--

BOY quickly uncovers his face.



LUNA jumps, pretending to be startled. The BOY jumps up and down again. LUNA looks over at the MOTHER, is concentrating on her phone call. LUNA looks back at the BOY, who looks almost like he's waiting for her to do something. So, after a couple of beats, she does. . .

LUNA lies down with her front paws pressed out and hides her face between her front legs.


(hushed, but audible to the BOY)

Inai Inai--

LUNA pops her head out from between her front legs, and the audience is given the first definitive indication that LUNA can, in fact, talk.



The BOY stares at LUNA for a beat. . . and then bursts into tears, wailing loudly!


No! No! Err-- (meows)!

The BOY continues to wail, pointing at LUNA. The MOTHER runs up to the BOY, pulling her away from LUNA.



The MOTHER swings her purse at LUNA, who is just barely able to dodge it!

EXT. Train stop - NIGHT

The TRAIN has stopped, and the door is open. We hear the voice of a CONDUCTOR from inside.



As the CONDUCTOR says his line, we see LUNA being thrown out of the train, screeching and twirling through the air!

EXT. Abandoned mansion- NIGHT

LUNA walks on top of a fence surrounding an abandoned mansion.



I meet the one toddler in Japan who knows cats aren't supposed to to talk. Me and my rotten luck. . .

LUNA jumps off the fence and onto the main walkway, heading toward the mansion.

INT- Mansion, Main Hall, First Floor.

We see that the once ornate mansion isn't really abandoned, but is in fact occupied by dozens of cats! A few dozen bowls lie on the floor, indicating that someone has been feeding them. The cats play, fight, sleep, and run from one part of the house to the other as LUNA makes her way up a flight of stairs.

INT- Mansion, Second Floor Hallway.

There are a few cats present, but not as many as on the first floor. LUNA walks up to a large door. She then stares down at the ground. After a beat, a KEY quickly emerges from her collar onto the ground, a reverse of the process by which the report was sucked up into her collar. Luna picks up the key with mouth and looks up at the door handle. LUNA takes a breath-- what she's about to do isn't easy.

LUNA jumps up, grabs the door handle, and puts the key into the lock. LUNA turns the key with her mouth, and the door unlocks and opens. LUNA quickly runs inside and closes the door behind her.

INT. Luna's Room.

LUNA'S room was a master bedroom once. While hints remain of the room's former splendor, the room is now quite delapidated-- you wouldn't live here if you had a choice. On the far wall hangs a large window, from which the lights of the moon and the city pour in. The bottoms of the other walls are adorned with old newspapers-- don't ask how LUNA put them up, she found a way and that's that. LUNA stares at the floor again, and the REPORT materializes in front of her.


We see a small black kitten, YOUNG LUNA, with her mother and siblings in the background, next to the back door of a restaurant. Her siblings are playing around, but YOUNG LUNA stands apart from them. YOUNG LUNA stares into the ground, and suddenly her COLLAR appears. YOUNG LUNA jumps back, startled, and then examines the collar.

FLASHBACK- EXT. Crowded Tokyo Sidewalk- Day.

YOUNG LUNA sits on the sidewalk with the COLLAR in front of her, meowing, trying to get someone to notice her. After a couple of beats, a pair of junior high girls notice YOUNG LUNA. They "ooh" and "aww", as expected.


What's wrong, kitty?

YOUNG LUNA meows, pushing the COLLAR forward. GIRL #1 picks up the collar.



Oh, I see. You need help. And here I thought you wanted to be friends. I feel so used.

GIRL #1 starts putting the collar on LUNA.


Man, what's with the crescent moon?


She looks like Artemis. (playfully) Maybe she's magic!

GIRL #1 finishes putting the COLLAR on YOUNG LUNA. YOUNG LUNA meows in gratitude.


What kind of magic cat needs your help? It's just a scar. She's probably diseased!

GIRL #2 tickles GIRL #1. The two girls leaves, waving bye to YOUNG LUNA. YOUNG LUNA looks at them as they leave.


(to herself, slowly and quietly)


INT. Luna's Room.

Back in the present, we focus on the newspapers on the wall. They're not clippings, but rather whole pages attached to the wall. We see various headlines in Japanese and English. These newpapers display photos and artisitic renderings of a blonde, Sailor suited girl, SAILOR V, and her white cat, ARTEMIS. ARTEMIS, like LUNA, has an upside-down crescent moon on his forehead. Most of the newpapers date back to 1991 and 1992. As we look at the newpapers, we once again hear various RADIO BROADCASTS.


CODENAME: SAILOR V -- Police Search for Sailor Suited Vigilante. . . WAKAGI DENIES EXISTENCE OF "SAILOR V" -- Describes Purported Vigilante as "Regrettable Rumor". . . V FOR VENDETTA -- Police Arrest Sailor V Suspects, Claim They Are Apprehending "Imposters" . . . RUNSPOTRUN TO RELEASE "SAILOR V" MANGA-- Police Accuse Publisher of Perpetrating Hoax. . . POLICE DROP HOAX CHARGES AGAINST RUNSPOTRUN, MARIE BAISHAKU, CITING LACK OF EVIDENCE -- Charges Have Not Dampened Manga's Enourmous Popularity. . .

We cut to LUNA standing at the window, with an antenna once again sticking out of her COLLAR, establishing that she can listen to radio signals.


We see YOUNG LUNA, listening to various RADIO BROADCASTS from a rooftop. There's a FULL MOON out. LUNA listens to both Japanese and English broadcasts, and is able to mimic the speech she hears in both languages fluently.

We CUT to a shot of the FULL MOON. Suddenly the RADIO BROADCASTS cease. Utter silence.

CUT to YOUNG LUNA, staring up at the FULL MOON. She can clearly hear something we cannot-- the message she hears is conveyed by SUBTITLES.


Are you there Luna? I hope you can hear this, and I hope you're alright. This is a very special message, one that only you can hear. By the time you hear it, I will have been long dead.


There was a beautiful land once, on that place the people around you call the Moon.

CUT to various orbital shots of the Moon's desolate surface.

I was Queen of that land once. . . but a great evil destroyed that land. The evil Queen Beryl, her four generals, and an evil force, the source of their power-- Mettalia. They came, and killed everyone. Our armies, our greatest warriors, our families. . . our children. My child, a beautiful princess.

CUT to orbital shots of EARTH.

I was able to cast away that evil. . . but by the time you hear this. . . that evil is returning, gaining strength. But there is hope.

INT- LUNA's Room - NIGHT. We continue to read LUNA'S message as she sits by the window.


You sat by my side once, but you were killed. . . yet you live again on Earth. So too do our greatest warriors, and my daughter, the princess. You must find them, Luna. They are the only hope your new world has of survival. I want to help you, Luna, but my time is short. . . it took so much, to bring you all back, to cast away the evil. . . I'm too weak. You'll have to find them on your own. I know you can do it.

LUNA retracts the antenna, and walks toward one of the side walls of the room. Adorned on the wall is a poster of SAILOR V, but with a question mark drawn over her face with a magic marker. Again, to ask how is to miss the point.


(to poster)

Hello-- or good morning, or evening, or. . . whatever. My name is Luna. Don't be scared! Yes, I can talk, but that's nothing to be afraid of -- though just try telling that to the stupid brats that ride the metro, I mean how badly messed up must a kid be to cry at a. . .(sighs) Anyway. I've been looking for you my whole life. You may not believe this, but fate has big plans for you. You're one of the guardian senshi, and I when I do find you, I'll have a special gift just for you!

From LUNA'S COLLAR materializes a golden brooch, the MOON PRISM.


This is the Moon Prism. With this, you'll be able to transform into a powerful--

At that moment, the SAILOR V poster's tape peels off the wall, and the top corners of the poster fall down. LUNA sighs.


We haven't met yet, but someday we will. . . It's just a matter of time. (beat) Until then, here I am, living in this feline commune, practising the speech I'm gonna give you, and living off of the generosity of others.

Just then, from outside the house we hear a young woman singing a French song, which grabs LUNA'S attention.


Speaking of which. . .

INT- Mansion, Main Hall, First Floor.

The young woman, who for name's sake we'll call JESSY, enters the house carrying a large bag of cat food. She's blonde and wears a LARGE, RED BOW in her hair. The cats all gather round, eagerly awaiting their dinner. Unless stated otherwise, assume her dialogue is in FRENCH.


Bonsoir, mes amies! I'm so sorry I'm late! I bet you're all starving!

JESSY sets the bag of cat food down and tears it open. She empties the food into the various bowls scattered about. The cats scramble around the bowls and devour their meals.


Bon appetit!

INT- Mansion, Second Floor Hallway.

LUNA hangs off of the door handle, like she was before, only this time locking the door. She drops to the ground and "sucks" up the key just as we hear JESSY coming up the stairs.


Scarlet? Scarlet? (spots LUNA) Ah, there she is, the lady of the manor!

JESSY curtsies, and LUNA meows in return. JESSY produces a can of fancy cat food.


(In English)

Here's Miss Scarlet's vittles. You gonna eat every mouthful of this!

JESSY opens the can and sets it in front of LUNA. LUNA calmly approaches the open can and starts to eat.


(in English)

Now isn't this better than sitting at a table. . . (spots something behind LUNA). And if it isn't Rhett Butler from Charleston. He has the most terrible reputation!

LUNA looks behind her and sees "Rhett Butler," an incredibly fat red cat. JESSY gets up and starts for the stairs.


I just have to get the water out of the car. I'll be right back.




JESSY stops, turns back for a second, and then heads down the stairs. LUNA continues to eat while "Rhett" scratches at the door and sticks his paws underneath the crack. Just as LUNA finishes eating, "Rhett" walks up in front of LUNA and, after a beat, slowly slumps over to one side. LUNA is not impressed.


Great balls of fire, don't bother me any--

Suddenly, the turns toward the stairs. The LUNA-SENSE is in overdrive. "Rhett Butler" senses something is wrong as well. In an instant, we hear dozens of cats wailing from downstairs. We hold on the stairs for a moment. Suddenly, dozens of cats rush up the stairs, passing by LUNA and "Rhett." While "Rhett" joins with the other cats, LUNA runs down the stairs.

INT- Mansion, Main Hall, First Floor.

LUNA cautiously travels down the stairs into the main hallway. There is an uneasiness to the place without all the cats around. The food bowls are still partly filled. A large bottle of water lies on the ground. LUNA slowly makes her way to the front door, the LUNA-SENSE still in high gear. When she gets there, she notices that it is partly open. She peeks her head out, and sees JESSY on the sidewalk for just an instant before she walks behing the fence. LUNA runs after her.

When LUNA exits the yard and looks in the direction JESSY was heading. She sees JESSY rounding a corner two blocks away-- impossibly far. LUNA sprints down the sidewalk toward JESSY, slowing down as she approaches the corner. She sneaks up to the corner, her LUNA-SENSE wailing.

As she comes up to the corner, she waits. The LUNA-SENSE is getting stronger-- something is coming. LUNA waits for a moment, readying herself for whatever is coming. . .

Suddenly, a TEENAGE BOY runs past the corner and across the street. He's 17 years old, tall and well built. He's wearing a mask and dark clothing, and carrying a bag. The audience doesn't know it yet, but this boy is actually MAMORU CHIBA. In the distance we hear police pursuing MAMORU on foot. LUNA realizes that it was MAMORU who triggered her LUNA-SENSE as she was rounding the corner. Torn between following the boy and continuing to look for JESSY, she chooses to go after MAMORU.

I'll be honest with you. . . I don't feel like writing the next scene just yet, even though I was going to. It deals with stuff that I'll go over in the Mamoru Chiba character sketch, which will come maybe in part #8 or #9. Also, frankly, I haven't put the kind of thought into that scene that I really need to, and I really don't have the time to do it if I want to keep these going at a reasonable pace.

Suffice it to say, MAMORU-- er, Mamoru evades the police, gets onto a subway, and travels to Azabujuuban, with Luna in pursuit. However, LUNA runs afoul with J-Punks, they put a bandage over her crescent and, exhausted, she sleeps in a tree. She'll meet up with a certain American crybaby the next day. . .

Wednesday Wire

Another clip from the first episode of The Wire.

The context: Earlier in the episode, a gang member named D'Angelo Barksdale beat a murder charge. The judge in that case, named Phaelon, had a talk with Detective McNulty, who was in the stands during the trial. McNulty filled Phaelon in on a few details, and this is what results:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Well. . . I guess this means I'm going to Tokyo.

I sent an application for the JET program again this year. I applied to the program once before, and was interviewed last year. I documented that experience here. I just heard back from the Japanese embassy, and the good news is that I won't have to go through it again.

I was rejected, flat out. This is strange to me, since I thought my prospects would have improved. By the time of my second application, I had successfully defended my master's thesis (with a clear pass, something which only one other grad student in physics had accomplished at UNBC) and satisfied all of my dgeree requirements-- in other words, the only thing standing between me and a MSc degree was a silly robe and a long, boring ceremony. Not only that, I had been taking courses in Japanese course, and even got a letter of recommendation from my prof (I guess a measly 99.5% grade just doesn't cut it for JET). Plus, I had been doing teaching work as a supplementary instructor for a physics course, which added to the lab teaching experience I already had.

So what the hell happened? Did the poor economy result in less teaching positions? Did they decide they weren't going to give a one time semi-reject (I made it to on to the alternate list) like me a second chance? Did I bungle the application in some way that I managed to avoid doing last time? Did they somehow manage to find my blog and discover all the nasty things I've been saying about certain Japanese politicians? Honestly, the confusion that arises from being rejected despite being a stronger candidate is actually less distressing than the rejection itself.

Why? Well, first off, being rejected means I can leave for Japan sooner. If I were accepted, I would be waiting around until August before flying off. Second, it means I can go to Tokyo-- you don't even mention the word Tokyo on the application form for JET-- and that, to say the least, will be an adventure.

But ultimately, what it comes down to is that I don't need JET. I chose JET because I thought it offered the path of least resistance to getting to Japan. We all know now how well that idea turned out. On top of that, I'm a master of fucking science. A government position teaching English in some podunk high school in Asscrack prefecture is-- and I don't say this often-- beneath me.

(Gosh, that didn't sound bitter at all!)

I'm still willing to tutor English, don't get me wrong. I may even take a TESOL course before I leave. Until then, I'll keep saving up my money, kicking ass in Japanese. . .

. . . and writing the motherfucking Sailor Moon movie. That's right! You thought that just this once I wasn't gonna mention my little pet project. Well, think again! This is my new thesis, people. Only this time, I'll actually enjoy writing it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

See, Ainu He Was Gonna Do More Racial Stuff!

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #6: Makoto Kino

I had initially planned to do the character sketches for Ami, Rei, and Makoto all in one shot. I realized by the end of my post on Ami that it would take way too long to do that, so I broke it up into three parts. While this has allowed for more detail, it's also led to me dragging out a particular theme, namely the issue of race in Japan and how that plays into my ideas for various Sailor Moon characters. Not only does this make it seem like I really only have one idea that I'm just stretching to its limit, it makes it look like my version of Sailor Moon isn't, well, fun. But, drag it out I must, at least for one more part. I mentioned in the last post that Rei Hino is one of the most inconsistently portrayed characters in Sailor Moon. Makoto Kino, on the other hand, has been fairly consistent, and I will not change that. Apart from a few details meant to further explain her situation, the Makoto Kino that appears in my movie will be essentially the same Makoto Kino we all know and love. With one really huge exception.

Pictured above is musician and activist Mina Sakai. If she were younger, and an actress, I would have wanted her to play Makoto Kino. One reason is that she bears a passing resemblance to Mew Azama, who played Makoto on PGSM. The other reason is that Sakai is Ainu. For your consideration:

The Kinos, husband and wife, travelled from Hokkaido to Tokyo in the early nineties, when they were in their twenties. They rented an apartment in the Azabujuuban neighborhood, and lived a modest lifestyle supported by the husband's employment as a junior executive at an airline company. The Kinos were both Ainu, but for the purposes of the husband's career, they were never open about this. Apart from a few artifacts-- cute trinkets from Hokkaido, they always insisted-- there was nothing to distinguish the Kinos from any other salaryman family. Their secrecy about this matter extended to the point that even after the Japanese Diet's 1998 passing of a resolution officially recognizing Ainu culture, the Kinos decided not to reveal their heritage to their only child, daughter Makoto.

Makoto was large, strong girl for her age, and assertive, but other than that she was a normal Japanese girl, interested in all of the normal Japanese girl things of the time: flowers, cooking, J-pop, and of course Sailor V, the smash hit anime about a lone sailor-suited heroine and her never-ending battle against crime! She did get into the occasional scuffle at times usually over some boy making some comment about her "bushy" eyebrows. Despite her size, Makoto typically lost these fights. Knowing that she wouldn't back down from a fight even they asked her to, her parents decided that she should learn martial arts. Makoto was enrolled in Judo classes, and later studied Tae Kwon Do as well. The number of smack-talking incidents subsequently underwent a massive decrease.

Things were looking good for Makoto by the time she was ten years old. Her father was moving up the company ranks, earning a major promotion. To celebrate, the parents decided to take a second honeymoon in Hokkaido, knowing that the promotion would lead to much less time together. They would leave Makoto to take care of herself-- they would only be gone for a few days after all. Tragically, the plane that her parents boarded-- owned by the very same company that her father worked for-- lost power during takeoff and crashed into Tokyo Bay, killing all on board. Makoto, who gone to Tokyo International to bid her parents farewell, saw everything.

Investigations into the crash led to revelations that the company that owned the crashed plane was involved in a major bribing scandal, allegedly involving members of the Japanese Diet (including the controversial Takashi Hino). Some compared the incident to the Lockheed bribing scandals of the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

The media storm that erupted around the crash and subsequent scandal mostly bypassed Makoto (she did one interview for an up-and-coming reporter from NHK's English service, but that's it). Having no extended family back in Hokkaido, Makoto faced the prospect of entering into Japan's notoriously crappy foster care system. Instead, she took the extraordinary step of seeking legal emancipation. Because she had access to a fairly substantial amount of money (consisting of her parent's savings, life insurance, and a "severance package" from the airline company-- one that came with a condition that Makoto would not sue) the courts granted her conditional emancipation-- she would have to periodically show that she is in good financial status, that her home is well kept, and that she's staying out of trouble.

Thus, Makoto continued to live on her own, maintaining her family's apartment and trying to live her life as she had before. The realities of living on her own toughened Makoto somewhat, but she remained traumatized from witnessing her parents' deaths. The trauma did little to help her temper-- often the only thing holding her back from starting a fight with someone was remembering that her emancipation was conditional. She also began to wonder about the "Hokkaido trinkets" scattered about the apartment, and whether her parents may have been hiding something from her. . .

By the time Makoto is fifteen years old, her money is running out, due to the legal fees involved in fighting for emancipation. She splits her time between school, part-time jobs (one of which involves catering), martial arts, keeping the apartment in good order. . . and a boyfriend, her senpai. Unfortunately, her senpai does not value the relationship as much as Makoto does, and often flirts with other girls. When Makoto sees this happening, she loses all restraint and coldcocks the motherfucker-- an act she regrets almost immediately afterward. The school administration says that are willing to keep things quiet, but she will have to transfer to another school. . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Wire

Don't let all that Sailor Moon stuff fool you. I'm still hard! I'm still gangsta!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sure, A Magical-girl Anime and the Japanese Far-right May SEEM Like an Odd Combintaion. . .

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #5: Rei Hino

There are two things I need to say before beginning this next part of my Sailor Moon series.

First, I have to confess that of all the main characters of Sailor Moon, Rei Hino is the only one that I don't really "get." I have a sort of intuition about what fundamentally comprises the other characters, and all the revisions I have mentioned and will mention in future installments are based on that. For example, turning Ami Mizuno into a 8-10 year old prodigy who has skipped ahead into junior high was meant to highlight both her intellect and her personal reservation-- age and a few details aside, she is mostly the same character she always has been. Rei, however, is different. At a fundamental level, I just don't know what the hell Rei is. I realize that this is not exactly a good thing to admit in a series called "Reasons Why I SHOULD Write The Sailor Moon Movie," but in fairness to me, Sailor Moon can't seem to decide just what the hell Rei is, either. In the manga, she is both elegant and ethereal, so much so that Usagi and Luna consider whether she might be the Moon Princess, or an enemy. In the anime, she's temperamental and, frankly, kind of a bitch sometimes. In PGSM, she's a jaded realist, someone who has been hurt far too many times to entertain any sentimentality concerning friendship or love. This inconsistency does not exactly make things easy for the prospective writer trying to adapt the character to the motion picture screen. As a result, my approach to Rei will likely be the most radically different from previous incarnations of all of the senshi, save for one which I'll discuss later.

As for my second point. . . I mentioned that some of the revisions I would make to Sailor Moon are political in nature. I thought I should explain where this all comes from. I first saw the Sailor Moon anime during its initial Canadian run on YTV, and I can safely say that it was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise very dismal part of my life. In 2006, something prompted me to look up info on Sailor Moon on the web. This was how I discovered the live action series, and as a result got back into Sailor Moon. Thanks to YouTube, I watched every single episode of PGSM, as well as the two specials. At first, I watched both for the nostalgia factor and the pure hilarity of it all. But somehow, as the show went on it managed to dig its way into my psyche in ways that few other series have. I'm still not entirely sure what it is about this show that affected me so much, but I think part of it was just the sheer Japaneseness of it all-- the show was effectively my first real exposure to unfiltered Japanese pop culture.

The timing of when I started to watch PGSM, moreover, was impeccable. In the fall of 2006 I took a course in short fiction. One of the stories we studied was Yukio Mishima's "Patriotism," about the ritual suicide of a Japanese soldier and his wife set during the "February 26 Incident" in 1936. It's a chilling story on its own, and moreso when you consider that Mishima himself later committed a similar act of ritual suicide at the Japanese Self-Defence Force headquarters in 1970, his last protest of what he saw as Japan's retreat from imperial and militarist values. Later, in the winter of 2007, I took a political science course, titled "Democracy and Dictatorship." My final essay was focussed on how certain policies of the Allied Occupation forces in Japan following WWII helped contribute to the counrty's present-day denial of war-crimes. Through my research on the topic, I was introduced to the strange world of the Japan's political right. I could go on for a whole post on that topic (actually, I already blogged on this subject once, though looking back on it, it's quite ranty), but what matters as far as this post is concerned is that my fascination with these two disparate things-- a magical-shojo story and a disturbingly influential part of the Japanese sociopolitical spectrum-- developed simultaneously, and as a result one bled into the other. This may have been somewhat apparent in Part #1, but it's here where the influence really becomes clear.

With that out of the way, let's begin.

Rei Hino

As I said in Part #1, my version of Sailor Moon is in large part a story of a teenage girl trying to make her way in a foreign culture. Therefore, one of the roles of Rei Hino should be to epitomize and embody that culture. No surprise there: in the Tradition vs. Modernity debate that seems to dominate much of anime, Rei has always taken the tradition side, even if she indulges in a few modern pleasures. But when I say she should epitomize the culture, I mean that she epitomize all of it, the good and the bad.

Remember that Rei's father is a politician. In previous incarnations, this fact was used merely as an explanation for what a deadbeat he is, and that's still all good. But the thing about politicians? They have politics. As you may have guessed from my introduction, my version of Papa Hino is a member of the right-most edge of the center-right Liberal Democratic Party, the type who thinks Article 9 is for pussies, who thinks all Koreans have cooties, who makes claims about extra-long Japanese intestines to argue against increased food imports, who has unsavoury connections to Uyoku Dantai groups and organized crime, and who wants all Japanese history textbooks to contain the words "Nanking? What Nanking?" And his politics will have rubbed off onto Rei, adding a shade of xenophobia to her traditionalism.

"Great," someone out there is saying. "Jerkface here has turned Sailor Mars into a racist. Next he'll tell us that there won't be any Queen Beryl in his movie, and that the senshi will be fighting Dr. Tomoe!" Not so fast. Yes, Rei will have a distrust of foreigners, and this is something that Usagi will experience firsthand. But Rei will also know at some level that her particular distrust of foreigners is irrational. While she may have been politically indoctrinated by her father, you have to remember that much of Rei's psyche is framed by her pure contempt for the man. It was her father's absence, as well as his willingness to exploit his daughter for political purposes (like in episode 8 of PGSM), that led Rei to give up on men. It's like what Dr. Manhattan said: "When you left me, I left Earth. Does that not show you I care?" (Yes, I have made references to both Watchmen and Yukio Mishima in giving my pitch for a Sailor Moon movie.) This contempt will lead Rei to have at least started to question her political assumptions by the time she meets Usagi. As I said, Rei epitomizes Japanese culture, and a big part of that culture is the aforementioned Tradition vs. Modernity debate. Rei plays out this debate every day of her life. Even though she favours tradition, she is still fascinated by modern life: she shops, she listens to J-pop, she goes to the arcade, she parties (I envision just a tiny bit of the Bush Twins/Paris Hilton in her). As a child, she even went so far as wanting to be "a singer-songwriter, a model, a wonderful voice actress," though her father quickly shamed her out of that notion. This debate will come to a head in the movie.

But Rei is more than just a set of conflicting abstract principles trapped in the body of a schoolgirl. She's a character, a human being. It's in this respect that my portrayal of Rei differs from previous ones more radically than my portrayal of the other Senshi so far. I mentioned in part #4 that the personalities of the guardian Senshi are modelled on the Chinese elements. For example, the element of water is associated with the colour blue, the season of winter, the planet Mercury, and the emotion of fear. Hence, Sailor Mercury. Likewise, the planet Mars is associated with the element of fire and the color red, which are both seen in Sailor Mars. Yet the emotion associated with Mars, happiness, is not what comes to mind when one sees Rei Hino, especially in the anime. What to make of this? Well, the simple answer is that the writers of Sailor Moon didn't take the Chinese astrological meanings all that literally, and that's understandable-- partly because of the Greco-Roman influences on Sailor Moon, and partly because the writers didn't want to limit themselves by being overly literal.

Still, when thinking about writing Sailor Mars, I tried to keep the Chinese elemental meanings in mind. To do this, I asked myself, what happens when you try to make Rei Hino "happy?" Even forgetting all of the political baggage I've heaped onto her, the fact of the matter is that her mother is dead, her father is such an asshole that she ended up unable to relate to men of any kind, and she's so isolated that before she meets Usagi her best friends are pair of crows who communicate with her psychically. What in the hell does she have to be happy about? Don't ask me how -- it would take too long to explain-- but this is the answer I came up with. (note: if what follows comes off as pretentious, it's because it is ;P)

It's sometimes been said that to live in Japan, one must wear a mask. This is true to an extent everywhere in the world but, perhaps because of the prevalence of masks in Japanese No theatre, this metaphor has taken hold in Japan. Rei Hino, being the daughter of a politician, serves as a sort of public representative. As such, she spends quite a bit of her time wearing the proverbial mask, be that at public events, the exclusive catholic school she attends, or elsewhere. Depending on the context, Rei Hino presents certain alternate versions of herself. At public functions, under the eye of her father, she's smiling and vacuous. In front of others her age, she feigns slightly arrogant aloofness, an almost detached amusement at others. This is not the temperamental Rei of the anime-- movie Rei is far too cool for that shit. As part of her "mask," she even enters into a rather detached relationship with a boy, a cynical parody of love. Yet ironically, this boy is one of the few true friends she has (just who this boy is, and why they can connect with one another, shall remain a secret for now). True happiness mostly eludes Rei, but in the halls of the Hikawa Shinto shrine, she finds a certain peace that comes close to it. She has to concentrate in order to attain this peace, but ultimately it comes. With it come psychic visions, a sense of a growing evil, and a strange affinity for fire. . .

This post has a lot of things to take in, so I'll leave Rei for now. Besides, to further explain Rei's role I first need to discuss a couple of other characters.

Next time, the flip-side of Rei: Makoto.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

So anyway. . .

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #4: Ami Mizuno

Can't Japan make up it's mind?

In Part #3, I proposed to have four of the Sailor Senshi (Usagi, Ami, Rei, and Makoto) meet each other for the first time in afterschool detention. Out of curiosity, I decided to investigate, via Google, what detention is like is the Japanese middle school system. As it turns out, Google doesn't know. In fact, Google is not even sure whether or not there exists such a thing as detention in Japanese schools.

On the one hand, Google produces a couple of websites claiming that there is no equivalent to North American style detention in Japan (the rest of the sites it gives are about Japanese-American Internment during the Second World War). On the other hand, in the "video results" section, Google produces none other then episode 52 of Sailor Moon-- the one in which Usagi is thrown into afterschool detention!

Oh well. . . since the anime established the precedent of detention existing in Sailor Moon's Japan, I'm sticking with the idea for now. There are still few details that need to be worked out (such as Cait's question of how star student Ami would find herself in detention to begin with, or how Rei could end up in the same detention as the others when she attends an entirely different school!) but I'll worry about those later. The main point I wanted to make with the detention idea was how futile it would be for a movie to follow the same pattern of introducing the senshi that the other versions.

The other thing I wanted to discuss in the last post, but chose to put off due to my paper finally getting accepted, was how I would handle the characters of Ami, Rei, and Makoto. That's what I'll be doing in the next three parts. I was going to do it all in one, but I realized that would be way too much for one post. So instead, I'm going to give character sketches for each of the three senshi in separate posts.

As I said in the last post, my approach is going pretty revisionist. It's also going to be a little more political than what you would expect from an adaptation of Sailor Moon. Still, commentators have read into Sailor Moon a sort of subtle social commentary anyway, so hopefully the political elements won't be too jarring.

Before I begin, a note about casting. Apart from Abigail Breslin, and one other actress whose identity I wish to keep a secret for now, I don't really have a very solid idea about who I would want to play the roles of the senshi. However, I do know that I would want Ami, Rei, and Makoto to be Japanese, and to be close to the age of the characters they play.

So with that, let's begin!

Ami Mizuno

If there's one word to describe Ami Mizuno, it's smart. She earned this reputation by always achieving perfect marks in class, which is no small feat in a country as academically competitive as Japan. Because of her academic feats, everyone in Sailor Moon seems to imagine Ami as being possessed of a sort of transcendental genius, even going so far as to claim that she has a 300 IQ.

And yet, the real Ami falls far short of this kind of exaltation. Ami, as typically presented in previous incarnations of Sailor Moon, never comes off as more than a hard worker with brains. Her exceptional marks come not just as a result of intelligence, but extreme effort. Hours of studying out of class, in addition to attending cram school, have yielded scholarly success, but at the cost of anything even remotely resembling a full life. On the nerd scale, she's less Brainac 5 and more Willow Rosenberg.

Suppose, then, that Ami really was the genius everyone made her out to be. For your consideration:

Ami Mizuno is the daughter of a well known oncologist and a talented but struggling artist. A healthy, if somewhat timid, child, she shocked her parents when, at the age of two months, she spoke her first word, "mizu." Whether she was trying to say her family name or simply asking for a cup of water, it became clear after this that their daughter was profoundly gifted. By her first birthday, she could hold conversations with her parents; at age two, largely by self-instruction, she had mastered arithmetic, was able to read at the sixth grade level (meaning she could understand just over 1000 kanji) and could speak English; by age three, she was an expert in geometry and algebra, and had virtually memorized her mother's medical school textbooks. It was at this age that she decided to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a doctor. She set the goal of entering the prestigious University of Tokyo's medical school-- at age six no less! Given her progress up until then, it seemed like nothing could stop her. . . but something did.

Raising a prodigious child is an exceptional challenge, and Ami's parents could rarely agree on the right approach to take: Ami's mother always pushed her into new activities, never allowing her mental development and education to slow; Ami's slightly hippy-ish father, however, never imposed the kinds of demands on her mother did, instead preferring to let Ami find her own way and, occasionally, encouraging Ami to immerse herself in the particular joys of childhood. Neither approach on it's own was perfect for Ami, but taken together they worked well for her. Unfortunately, her parents didn't realize this. As Ami reached the age of five, their arguments over which direction Ami's development should take became ever more heated. These disagreements, along with other factors, ultimately led to the unravelling of their marriage. Divorce is a painful process for a child even when handled ideally by the parents-- and typically, it's not even handled close to ideally. Indeed, it can reveal a pretty ugly side to human nature. In the warped reality that is divorce, parents will often use children as a way of hurting their ex-partners, and will play petty mind games with their children, who they unconsciously see not so much as human beings than as the ultimate trophies to won. Ami's parents did all of this, and the fact that she was smart enough to see through it all only made it hurt all the more. After the divorce, custody of Ami was granted to her mother, as is almost always the case in Japan.

Ami was never quite the same after her parents broke up. She tried to take the entrance exams for university, but failed spectacularly. Though she still displayed great intelligence, she was unable to retain what she learned at quite the same level that she did before. Ami's mother nonetheless had high expectations of her. Ami entered junior high at the age of eight (or so) and she felt a pressure to be academically superior. She achieved top marks, but only through hours if study and attendance at cram school. Her remaining free time was spent on swimming (something she had enjoyed since she was a toddler) and on taking care of herself when her mother was absent, which was often the case. Her academic success, combined with her youth, intimidated some students, and others misinterpreted her timidity (which was exacerbated by her parent's painful divorce) for arrogance. Thus, she is quite lonely by the time she meets Usagi in detention. . .

Yes, I would write Ami Mizuno as a child, roughly 8-10 years old by the time the movie takes place. In some respects, the character of Ami is quite fearful (fear, after all, is the emotion associated with the planet Mercury in the Chinese elemental system, upon which the senshi were partly based), and being a pre-adolescent in junior high would emphasize this characteristic. Plus, it would serve as a sort of subtle allusion to Chibiusa.

There's way more to discuss, but that'll have to wait until another post. Next time: Rei!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

If THIS doesn't convince Hollywood that I'm the man to write Sailor Moon. . .

Since August, I've been working on submitting a manuscript to the scientific journal Physical Review A. The work presented therein is an extension of my master's thesis work. This morning I received notification that the manuscript has been accepted for publication. There are still a few steps to go through, and I don't know yet when it'll be published. I'll keep you guys updated. Maybe in a future post, I can give the title, author list, abstract and a layman's summary of the results. Until then, it's time to celebrate.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You know how I said before, how I should write the Sailor Moon movie? Wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #3: The Asagohan Club

"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did was wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... and an athlete... and a basket case... a princess... and a criminal... Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club."
There's a part of me that's loathe to quote that particular line. Not because The Breakfast Club is a bad movie, but because this little monologue became sort of a chorus for the worthless, 80's worshipping decade we've just left behind. Yeah, it's a cliche. But it's also a good example of the approach I'd take to portraying the relationship between Usagi and her fellow senshi, Mercury/Ami, Mars/Rei, and Jupiter/Makoto (Venus is a whole other story).

I'll explain what I mean shortly. Beforehand, though, I need to mention a couple of things. As you may have gathered from the first part of this series (and will undoubtedly gather after this one), my approach to a Sailor Moon movie is. . . somewhat revisionist. Somewhat revisionist in about the same way a kick to the shin is somewhat painful. Why do I mention this? Well, I've recently received feedback on my ideas. Positive feedback, from someone I don't know personally. This is a new experience for me as a blogger (pretty much all of my comments up until now have come from my mom, my sister, or friends), and though this is essentially what I asked for in my New Year's Day post, it's left me with a strange sense of both joy and apprehension. The joy, of course, comes from the encouragement I received. The apprehension. . . well, it comes from the worry I always have about blowing it, what "it" happens to be. In this case, the worry I've been having is that at some point, a Sailor Moon fan will read this and go "I'm sorry, but, this just isn't Sailor Moon anymore." I'm still gonna keep going with this-- if I can't share my ideas as writer on my own damn blog, where can I? Still, I wanted to say, to any Sailor Moon fans out there reading this now or in the future: heads up.

So, anyway, what does The Breakfast Club have to do with Sailor Moon. They're both stories about teenagers, who otherwise would have nothing to do with one another, being forced together by powers beyond their control. Through this process, they discover things about themselves and each other that they would never have otherwise known, exactly when they needed to know these things. Though strangers at the beginning, their mutual encounter creates a strong lifelong friendship (implied in Club, explicit in Moon) and they are better people for it. In The Breakfast Club, this was accomplished through Saturday detention; Sailor Moon had its characters linked by their past lives and their struggle to win a millennia old war against forces of supreme evil. A bit of contrast, sure, but you can see the connection.

But it's not just forced acquaintance that links the two, at least in my interpretation. Sailor Moon has always had at its heart a message about the power of friendship and love-- indeed, it has often ascribed literally god-like power to friendship in order to hammer this point home. But what do the central charcters of Sailor Moon-- Usagi, Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako (and Mamoru too)-- really have to offer one another, apart from just liking each other? Why did destiny link these particular people together? What do they have to gain from one another? Why not just scoop up any five teenagers and give them transformy thingies, like Zordon did in Power Rangers? Why not give powers to Umino or Naru? Their relationship has to go deeper than simply being superpowered and mutually cordial to be engaging. They must discover that in each of them, there is an Usagi. . . and an Ami. . . and a Rei . . . a Makoto. . . and a Minako.

Of course, it's one thing to say what should be done, and another thing to actually do it. This is where is that whole "revisionist" thing starts to come in. In all previous incarnations of Sailor Moon, the way in which these characters meet one another occurs something like this (sarcasm mine):

Stage #1

Luna: Hey! Usagi!

Usagi: What?

Luna: You're Sailor-- Wait, you don't care that I'm a talking cat?

Usagi: Not really, since I'm probably dreaming this anyway. I do sleep a lot.

Luna: (sigh) Whatever. You're Sailor Moon. Now transform and kill that monster.

Stage #2

Luna: Hey Usagi!

Usagi: A TALKING CAT??!!

Luna: Yes! We met yesterday! Remember, I made you into a superhero? You killed that monster?

Usagi: Aw, fuck. That was real?

Luna: Yes, that was real! Now go talk to that lonely girl over there (points to Ami), and give her this transformy pen. She's Sailor Mercury.

Usagi: Meh, okay. (Walks to Ami and gives her the pen) Here.


Usagi: Yes! You're Sailor Mercury. Now transform and help me kill this monster.

Repeat for Rei and Makoto.

Stage #3

(Sailors Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter are caught in a deadly trap of some sort. Sailor V comes along.)

Minako: Well, I guess you guys need my help.

(Sailor V kicks all kinds of ass, saves the other senshi, and changes her name to Sailor Venus.)

Minako: So. . . yeah. I'm Sailor Venus. I'm also the moon princess, but not really. That's your job Usagi.

Usagi: Sugoi!

Now, I wouldn't take this particular approach in writing a movie. For one, this kind of structure is inherently episodic, i.e. it works great for a TV show or multipart Manga, but perhaps not so well for a movie, particularly when you consider the kinds of time constraints in a film with a fairly large number of characters like this one. There's another, more important reason for this decision, but I don't want to get into that just yet.

How would I structure it instead? I'd have four of the senshi-- Usagi, Ami, Rei, and Makoto-- all meet each other at the same time, near the beginning of the film. How? Why, detention, of course! "DOOONNNNCHEEWWWW! FORGET ABOUT ME! DONTDONTDONTDOOOOONT!"

Now, don't get me wrong. I will still make reference to the characters' canonical origins. Ami will still encounter a Youma in cram school, Rei will still sense something amiss with the bus that picks up her fellow Shinto priestesses, and Makoto will still be getting over her old boyfriend by the time they all meet. All of their back stories can be accommodated by having them meet at once-- in fact, their mutual interactions as a result of meeting at once could actually add to character development.

What happens next? How do they discover their inner brain, athelete, princess, etc.? I was going to discuss that this post, but something's come up that I want to discuss first.

To be continued in Part #4.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Now start commenting on my Sailor Moon Movie posts! I know you're out there, and I need someone to tell me just how bad an idea this really is!

P.S. I saw Avatar. It'll do, but when it comes to using aliens as a thinly veiled metaphor for racism, I prefer District 9. This, really, is what Avatar amounts to-- a shiny, happy District 9.
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