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The Heartbreaking Truth Behind Sailor Moon's Origin

What we know in English as Sailor Moon is known in Japan as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, but the stories in each version are essentially (but not exactly) the same. They revolve around a group of Japanese middle school girls who face both mundane and supernatural issues. The members of the main crew, the Sailor Scouts, each carry a moniker that's a planet or other cosmic object, and they each have their own abilities. Unfortunately, those abilities don't tend to help out in their everyday lives. Which sucks, because middle school is hard.

The franchise is the brainchild of Naoko Takeuchi, who first had her Sailor Moon manga published in 1991 before it was picked up as an anime in 1992. From there, Sailor Moon exploded to worldwide success and is now considered by many, like Teen Vogue, to be an iconic feminist franchise. The inspiration for works of fiction has to come from somewhere, and in this case, Sailor Moon draws on Takeuchi's personal experiences as a young student.

Sailor Moon was based on Naoko Takeuchi's personal experiences

It's been reported that Naoko Takeuchi set Sailor Moon in a Japanese middle school because of her own personal experiences at that difficult age. It might not sound very exciting or dramatic, but middle school is a bit different in Japan than it is on the other side of the pond, and Takeuchi believed, according to ToFuGu, that middle school is the hardest time in a young girl's life.

Most middle schools in the United States have a traditional grading system, and while there is pressure to do well in middle school to prepare for high school, a few stumbles here and there won't impact a student's academic success in the grand scheme. Likewise, parents in the States do worry about their child's education at this time in their life, but that's nothing compared to how Japanese culture stresses academics. Middle schoolers in Japan have to buckle down on their studies at an early age in order to get into a good high school, which requires an entrance exam like college does in the West, according to Business Insider. On top of that, most middle school students join extracurricular clubs.

School, especially while growing into your teens, is stressful enough in the United States, and the added structure and pressure can't make Japanese schools any easier. Stress at that age tends to translate into bullying. Sadly, Takeuchi was bullied during her time at school, which is why it's a recurring theme in Sailor Moon. In an early interview with the manga author, as ToFuGu mentions, Takeuchi decided to make a normal girl be the heroine of Sailor Moon instead of a powerful, righteous type so that those bullied middle school girls would have someone they can connect with. She probably never thought that creation grew up to be a beloved feminist anime icon.