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. . .


Anonymous said...


I´ve been reading you blog regarding Sailor Moon. I´m stuned! It´s quite a bold aproach to say the least and I like it.

Just one thing: Don´t forget that a movie like Sailor Moon would be targeted toward younger audiences, so it would be great if you focused a little bit on simplicity. Let say, if kids watched your movie maybe they would get a little confused. It´s an intertesting approach and I like it. But I insist: I feel you are leaning toward a mature audience (or so is what I feel from your posts). If you could blend it a little bit more with "kiddie-fun", just a little bit, I think you would nail it quite perfectly.

Other than that, I feel your ideas are very cool.

Have a nice week! n.n

Jeremy K. said...

Thanks for the comment!

The "kiddie-fun" aspect is one thing that I realize I've been neglecting in these posts thusfar. I do want my (never gonna get made in a million years) script to be fun, and I hope to address how I'll do that in the next couple of posts.

I think that if it's done right, younger audiences will be able to follow and enjoy the story without the more mature, complex elments getting in the way, while older audiences-- the ones who watched Sailor Moon as kids-- will enjoy the elements I've been discussing so far.

Anonymous said...

Sound great!

I´m looking forward to hearing more of your posts! n.n

Cait said...

"...she loses all restraint and coldcocks the motherfucker..."

Haha. I laughed aloud when I read that. I always knew Makoto's backstory was sad, but I found that only the live action really used it for characterisation purposes. (Now I haven't watched all of the anime, so I could be wrong, and just haven't seen it yet, but this is how I remember it.) I like the detail you went into in describing what her life was like before her life as a senshi. :)

I also think that it's fair to keep in mind that the original Sailor Moon (in Japan) wasn't really marketed towards children at all. Making it more grown up would bring in a whole new audience, and and let's face it, the little kids will probably watch it whether they understand it or not.

Keep going with it! I can't wait for your take on Minako! :)

Jeremy K. said...

Thanks Cait! Glad you got a laugh!

I'm gonna hold off on Minako for a little while, since my take on her is REALLY important to how I'm approaching this story, and there are still a couple of things I need to deal with first. My next post is actually on Luna, but it's going to be a little different from the posts I've done so far.

There might be a bit longer wait than usual for the next post, partly because I've begun my marking work for the university (marking three courses. . . I get a master's degree and THIS is what I have to show for it!). It will be worth the wait, though.

Naomi said...

The pun at the beginning pretty much made my week.

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