Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You Know How Usagi Always Has Trouble Getting Up In The Morning? That's a Metaphor Too!

Reasons Why I Should Write the Sailor Moon Movie #15: Sailor Moon Awakens. . .

. . . or Not!

History. . . is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

James Joyce, Ulysses
Yeah, I went there again. . .

If you read Part #4 of the script. . . well, first off, thanks for having the patience to wait a whole month for me to finish writing it. Indeed, part of the reason why I'm writing this post is that I decided that, just maybe, I shouldn't make everyone wait yet another month for the next Sailor Moon post. (It's now been fifteen days since Part #4, so. . . only half a month! Yay!)

But also, if you've read Part #4, you probably noticed something a little odd. Luna, having finally introduced herself to Usagi, presented her with the Moon Prism and explained to her what her mission is. Usagi, while understandably dubious, nonetheless attempted her first transformation into Sailor Moon, just like in the manga, and the anime, and the live action series.

Only this time. . . nothing happened.

Now, maybe it's because she didn't utter the words "Moon Prism Powaaa! Make up!" Or, maybe, something else is going on. . .

One of the ideas that was explored in Sailor Moon (particularly the live action series) was the idea of "awakening"-- that much of the senshis' abilities are not granted immediately, but rather have to be remembered and resurrected, along with aspects of their former personalities. Usually, this idea was used as an explanation for why the supposed guardians of the inner solar system can get their asses kicked so easily and, concurrently, as an excuse for the "power-up" episode, wherein Sailor Moon and the other senshi get shiny new uniforms and bigger badder powers, and Bandai gets a new line of toys to sell (. . . wow, that was cynical, wasn't it?). However, the idea was also used for the purposes of plot advancement and character development, particularly when it came to mysteries of Sailor V and the elusive Moon Princess.

So, me being who I am, I really overthought this idea, often when I should have instead been writing my master's thesis. What I have to show for all that thought will, hopefully, become fully apparent as the script unfolds. For now, though, I will simply pose the following question: What if "awakening" does not constitute attaining a higher senshi power level, but rather the very act of becoming a senshi? That is, what if, before Usagi can become a senshi, she has to remember what it means to be a senshi? I'm not talking about a complete recollection of her past life (the "explicit memory" if you will), but rather a set of feelings and impulses (the "implicit memory"), the instinctual "how" and emotional "why" of being a senshi.

From this follows at least one obvious question: What are these instincts and emotions, and where do they come from? A partial answers lies in the next part of this series, which I will try to post promptly.

"But Jeremy," some hypothetical reader asks. "There also follows from your premise an obvious criticism! The point of Sailor Moon is that an impulsive, selfish teenage brat has been given superpowers, and yet displays utter incompetence, paralysing fear of even easily vanquished foes, and a near-sociopathic irritation at the idea of having to help others! The whole thing is a parody of superheroes! Your interpretation of 'awakening' misses the point entirely!"

I respond to this purely suppositional objection thusly:

1) Shut up, and go not exist somewhere else!

2) This movie's never going to be made anyway-- or do non-existent things particularly bother non-existent people?

3) Let's just ignore, for the sake of argument, both the manga and the live action series. Yes, if you're judging solely on the basis of the anime, and rather superficially at that, you might get the impression that Sailor Moon is no more than an amoral inversion of the superhero archetype. But you'd be wrong-- it's more complicated than that. While the anime tends to grossly exaggerate Usagi's flaws for comedic effect, it also shows, albeit less frequently, that Usagi does care both about her friends and about her mission. And yes, Usagi is often a screwup as a superhero; so was Peter Parker at times, yet this made Spider-Man only more endearing and sympathetic. I don't intend for Usagi's awakening to render her instantly ultra-competent-- it's a growth in her character, a psychological "henshin", that allows her to become Sailor Moon. She will have to continue to grow past that point as well, and that will entail plenty of screwups along the way.

Now that any and all possible objections have been refuted, I bid you adieu until next time.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

Endless James Joyce references. What's next? Usagi celebrating Bloomsday?

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