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Sailor Moon and Reproductive Health

A fan of the series since 1995, Koriander runs the popular Moon Sisters fan site and studies the Sailor Moon franchise closely.

sailor-moon-and-reproductive-health

Turning Tragedy Into Triumph Over Evil

The massive Sailor Moon metaseries is the brainchild of pharmacist, author and cartoonist Naoko Takeuchi, whose senior thesis when she was studying chemistry was titled Heightened Effects of Thrombolytic Actions Due to Ultrasound.

Mixing a love of chemistry and gemology with an adoration of tokusatsu superheroes, she initially created Codename Sailor V which soon spun-off Sailor Moon in 1991.

The character of Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino herself is a cultural icon. Usagi is open with her crushes on males such as her future husband Mamoru and Crown Arcade's Motoki, on non-gender-conforming Haruka and just briefly on the very feminine Rei in her debut episodes and manga story. She treats her LBGTQ and Straight friends equally and always looks for the best in people. She questions everything and everyone around her and is honest with her feelings, making her an ideal hero to all.

Through Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi was able to reach an audience transcending gender. With themes of female empowerment and gender neutrality, the manga and both anime series have broken down barriers, with controversial episodes even making their way into countries where women and girls are still devoid of autonomy.

But Takeuchi didn't stop her body positive work even when the manga ran it's final story Parallel Sailor Moon in the back of the Sailor Moon Materials Collection art book in 1999.

In the February 2001 edition of Young You magazine, Takeuchi got brave and not only told the story of losing her first pregnancy to miscarriage, but she also normalized talking about the tragedy with cute illustrations of herself as a rabbit (her "calling card" for years) and her husband, HunterXHunter and Yu Yu Hakusho creator Yoshihiro Togashi as a basset hound.

She talked openly about the car accident that caused the loss, the doctors not taking her seriously and having her wait for a few days while she was bleeding and in pain before allowing her to be admitted into the hospital, the names of the instruments used, what each moment physically felt like, the bills and even the subsequent loneliness of not only losing her first daughter, but of the staff carrying on like nothing happened and her mother Ikuko (portrayed by Usagi's mom, Ikuko Tsukino) taking Takeuchi's husband shopping and to dinner while coldly acting as though she should "get over it". She only had the comfort of an image of her childhood favorite manga Candy Candy to help her through the pain.

Cartooning a comedic comic about miscarriage and then another about childbirth and motherhood, showed the true strength of Takeuchi, and to do it in a magazine aimed at teenagers and women, helped to normalize talking about fertility, pregnancy, loss and abortion care to a generation of Millennials who had been largely sheltered and shunned from learning about their own bodies.

To do a comic strip about this subject with humor and cute drawings took the type of courage only seen in superheroes.

She later had a son and daughter.

sailor-moon-and-reproductive-health

Be Safe, In The Name Of The Moon

Sailor Moon's cute image also helped to awaken Millennials' and early Gen Z's resolve to get educated about their health.

In October of 2019, the internet lit up with pictures of a pink, heart shaped piece of tagboard, emblazoned with an SD/Chibi version of Sailor Moon and Luna on the front.

Inside was a pink condom, and in the background, a pink poster with Sailor Moon sitting on a moon could be seen, along with information from Japan's Ministry Of Health about STD's, HIV, STI's and AIDS.

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The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Act Against AIDS, and the Okamoto Lovers Lab (a division of Okamoto Condoms) teamed up with the iconic character of Sailor Moon to educate Millennials and Gen Z about sexual health, the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and about sexual hygiene.

This was done to combat misinformation, shame and a then pretty bad problem of adults and teenagers being diagnosed with dangerous, deadly and mostly preventable diseases.

While naysayers balked at the idea of having the image of 14-year-old Usagi on the front of the advertising for such a campaign, the rest of society welcomed the image, citing the positive influence Sailor Moon as a character has on teens and adults. The campaign helped people get comfortable with talking about reproductive health and helped to not only normalize safe sex, but also get teens into thinking that they aren't ready for the risks, doing more for parents than any religious based, science-free, abstinence scare program ever has.

sailor-moon-and-reproductive-health

She Won't Let That Time Of The Month Punish You

Starting sometime in the 90s, just before the end of the original Sailor Moon anime, giggling Gen X and Millennial girls would say "Sailor Moon is here" as a euphemism for menstruation.

While it isn't known who started it, some vague fan theories point to the red boots Usagi wears as Sailor Moon and the hero's ability to appear out of nowhere as inspiration.

Still, it sparked a dialogue about the shame and embarrassment women and girls are often forced into by society at large. Pious households often shame their daughters for talking about their periods, boys are taught that girls and women are "gross" for having periods, and many men shame women and girls for even hinting at it.

Even worse, if a girl's school faculty finds out she has any form of medication on her, be it birth control or pain relief for a period, she could face suspension, expulsion, and in some areas around the world, even prison time on drug charges, just for taking any pill bottles with her at all.

So starting in 2014 and 2015, advertisements began popping up all over Japan for Sailor Moon Crystal themed pads and tampons.

Instead of frustrating and shaming names for each category like "heavy flow" or "medium", the pads and tampons instead use the characters to mask the type of pad or tampon.

Sailor Mercury joins Sailor Mars for "light" days, Sailor Moon is "medium", Sailor Jupiter teams with Sailor Venus for "heavy" days, and in some markets, a special Luna or Luna with Sailor Moon package exists for overnight.

Further removing the shame, packages came with clip-out codes to be used for a variety of stylish Sailor Moon Crystal items, including jewelry and pouches, turning the worst time of the month into a magical one.

sailor-moon-and-reproductive-health

Moon Healing Escalation

In the 2020s, a Sailor Moon Eternal campaign with Bufferin started with specially marked boxes of the pain reliever, along with a contest where 100 winners won a Luna head reversable cusion and an Usagi schoolgirl dress.

Bufferin aspirin was marketed to adult Sailor Moon fans while Bufferin Luna acetaminophen was aimed at adults and teenagers. Both can be used to treat headaches, migraine, arthritis, body aches and menstrual cramps.

With a marketing campaign that mixed the 90s anime with 2021's Sailor Moon Eternal, the ads were expanded to include the Inner Guardians, Outer Guardians and Super Sailor Chibi Moon, which then was followed by games, jewelry boxes and other trinkets consumers could obtain with proof of purchase.

Realizing women and girls were not the only consumers of Bufferin, magazine ads often placed expanded features on the campaign with images of Tuxedo Mask, Helios, Pegasus and Sailor Uranus, showing without words the gender-neutral reach the campaign could have.

Sailor Moon has helped fans feel comfortable with their own health.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Koriander Bullard

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