I ranted plenty about this earlier today, but I still have some unfinished business.
I think my main issue with this type of posts/articles/whatever is the constant bashing of Usagi. Oh, Usagi cries too much. Oh, she’s such a bad role model, what with the way she fails in school, dreams about being a bride, and is such a stereotypical teenage girl. Oh, Usagi isn’t nearly empowering enough, look at the way she doesn’t want to fight!
Usagi is a fourteen-year-old girl.
At the beginning of the series, Usagi is your average, run of the mill fourteen-year-old. She’s lived a very sheltered life, with a warm, loving family and close friends. Unlike, say, Ami or Rei, who pretty much had to grow up early because they had to take care of themselves, Usagi was given the chance to grow up at her own pace and take the time to enjoy her childhood/adolescence (an opportunity which, ideally, should be afforded to all children). So, when Luna appeared and Usagi transformed into Sailor Moon for the first time before being thrown into battle, she was understandably pretty unprepared for the responsibility she was thrust into.
And, before I go on, I have to say that I think Usagi handled becoming Sailor Moon extremely well. When she heard Naru in danger, she didn’t even hesitate to rush to her aid. Usagi even tells Luna that, although she has no idea what’s going on, she does know that her best friend is in danger and she’s willing to do anything to save her.
That’s right, Usagi’s very first act as Sailor Moon is to put aside her fear and confusion and go help her friend. If that doesn’t perfectly encapsulate Usagi Tsukino’s entire character, I don’t know what does.
And yeah, Usagi is understandably scared and freaked out during her first battles. She cries, she says she wants to go home, that she doesn’t want to fight anymore. Once again, Usagi is fourteen. She’s barely a teenager and yet she’s being dragged into battle against hellish monsters that have the ability to murder her without a second thought. What the fuck do you expect her to do? Crack witty one-liners as she picks them off like some action movie hero? Usagi’s reaction to being thrust into the role of Sailor Moon is very realistic. When I was 14, there’s absolutely no way that I would have been able to take on the responsibility of being a Sailor Senshi without some bumps along the way. Hell, I wouldn’t be able to do that even now, at 19.
But Usagi adjusts. And when her teammates begin to join her, she finally grows into her role as a capable Soldier of Love and Justice. Usagi, like every other human being, needs support. She can’t do everything by herself, she needs people she can trust and depend on. And that is yet another example of the great messages that Sailor Moon sends out: “It’s okay to depend on other people. You shouldn’t try to do everything by yourself, you need to be open and willing to accept help if you need it.”
And Usagi matures. She is the complete opposite of a static character. In fact, Usagi undergoes some of the best character development I’ve ever seen. By the end of the series, she’s two years older (16 instead of 14) and much, much wiser. Being Sailor Moon is no longer a chore. Sailor Moon is her, an integral part of herself that can’t be ignored. She fights, not because she particularly enjoys doing it, but because wants to use her powers for good, to protect the world (and later, the entire galaxy) and those she loves from harm. She’s gone from a scared, confused young girl to a veteran warrior who still possesses the enormous capacity to love and forgive, even extending those feelings to her enemies.
However, not only is their assessment of Usagi just flat-out wrong, it’s actually offensive. These people exaggerate the hell out of Usagi’s negative traits (which, by the way, every well-written character should have) and act like they completely ruin Usagi as a character and as a role model. Yeah, Usagi’s a crybaby, but she’s also the most loving and kindhearted person you’ll ever meet. She’s not that great in school, but is undyingly loyal to her friends and family, willing to sacrifice her very life to keep them safe and sound. She’s lazy and gluttonous, but goes out of her way to be friendly and kind to people and makes them feel wanted and accepted. Usagi may be a klutz, but she’s also pretty much the embodiment of love itself. If you ask me, those traits are nothing to sneeze at.
But, most importantly, Usagi is us. She’s someone we can relate to. When I started watching Sailor Moon at age 13, I immediately connected with Usagi. She told me that it was okay to be very emotional, because that just meant that I had a big heart and a lot of love to give. It was okay to be sensitive, because that meant that I could easily relate to others and understand their feelings. It was okay if my grades weren’t the best, because I was a good person and that’s way more important in the long run than my grades are. Basically, Usagi told me that I was okay being myself because, after all, we were similar and she was doing just fine!
Usagi’s very important to me. She’s important to all of us. That’s why seeing her get bashed and insulted for not being the Perfect Western Feminist Role Model™ really sets me off. And that’s why, whenever that happens, I’ll fight to the death to defend her. You can count on that.