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.


Cait said...

In movie format, I think that having Usagi, Ami, Rei, and Makoto meet once makes A LOT more sense. There's a lot more time to work with on a TV series, but time is limited in a movie. It would save time for other, more important plot points, and probably be more interesting than the same old storylines that many Sailor Moon fans have seen several times over.

One question though: Exactly what would Ami to get into detention? Isn't she like the perfect student? :P

Jeremy K. said...

I'm working on that. . . Hopefully, I'll have a convincing answer by Part #4.

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