I often think about the trouble I went through as a kid to get Sailor Moon merchandise and I think the scarcity of anime on American TV in the 90’s really influenced my collecting habits as an adult collector. This 20th anniversary boom has really messed with my mind in terms of what I was used to between 2003 and 2013.
Those years, the dark times, we literally had nothing new to buy, nothing to surprise us in stores, and no easy way to get the Japanese toys without paying a premium on grail-items. Remember the eBay price on a original Japanese Star Locket? The World edition of the Moon Stick? Times were tough for moonies. I think they’re tough again.
There are way too many things to choose from. ‘A constant bombardment of merchandise on Sailor Moon Official. Toothbrushes? You got it. Stationary? Mountains. Dolls? Paradise. Figures? Every size, shape, and character.
But what about before Toei Animation stripped everyone of their licenses to sell Sailor Moon merchandise and sent us into that black hole? The 90’s were an odd time to be a kid who was unfortunate enough to like cartoons from the Far East.
Anime? No! We had to wander into the Japanimation section of our Suncoast Video stores.
It was even weirder being a young girl looking for anything with as much girl power as Sailor Moon. Nestled between a practically naked Cutie Honey and the pornographic Ninja Scroll was perhaps your chance to discover the romantic Fushigi Yugi. Maybe you’d spot The Vision of Escaflowne somewhere in near the controversial Neon Genesis Evangelion.
But hey, fortunately Blockbuster Video had a visible copy of Revolutionary Girl Utena with big yellow text on the cover that said “from the director of Sailor Moon,” right? Well, Utena is at most an inkling similar to Sailor Moon, and Kunihiko Ikuhara is a modern anime god, but it would be many years before I could fully appreciate the artistry of Utena. Heck, I actually love everything I just listed. Most importantly, I enjoyed them as an adult.
Sailor Moon was the show that I could feel at home with: it was safe, it spoke directly to me and my experiences, and it definitely spared me embarrassing conversations with my parents. When I spotted any dark-blue boxed North American version of a wand from the show I was immediately begging my mom to buy it for me. I needed it. Sailor Moon was the only fandom that felt truly mine. But now, who is Sailor Moon really for? Is it for collectors who need every piece of merchandise they throw out to us? Does it really stand out in a sea of tens of anime that are released and streamed online every season? How does Sailor Moon Crystal really stand up to the promise that was made back in its inception that it would be for adults? I would certainly say that I find the original series more violent. I have little reason to buy the Crystal merchandise considering that I only enjoyed 1-out-of-3 of its seasons so far.
Right now it looks like only the Proplica line is on a “must buy” list for me and I feel sort of guilty for it. When the first SH Figuarts was released for the series I joyfully ordered two in one hit. I was ecstatic when it arrived. That’s a $45 5″ toy, mind you. It’s kind of nuts. If you follow my Youtube Channel you’ll know I ended up buying the entire line of those figures. Was it all worth it? I’m not sure.
I’m a collector whose collection evolves with me; I’ve already shed most of the Atsumete figures from my display, and possibly those SH Figuarts are next. I still can’t shake the feeling of guilt. The intense need for Sailor Moon collectibles I felt as a kid hangs over me like a ghost. It was hard being a moonie as a kid, and maybe it’s still just as hard now. We now suffer the original vs Viz dub comparisons; the comparisons between Moonlight Memories toys and stuff from the Miracle Romance cosmetic line; or even comparisons in art styles between seasons of the remake. It’s weird to have stuck around for so long, feeling like a relic from the old days when you had to scramble to find out which channel still shows the original anime after it’s been cancelled on Fox or later on USA Network.
So older moonies, are you still out there? Do you remember the struggle or are you still living it?