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A Brief History of Magical Girl Theft

An anime fan of titles from many genres, Koriander Bullard is not afraid to speak on topics that make fellow anime lovers uncomfortable.

In "Tokyo Mew Mew," Ichigo Momomiya's bell weapon, wand, and heart compact are directly traced from Sailor Chibi Moon.

In "Tokyo Mew Mew," Ichigo Momomiya's bell weapon, wand, and heart compact are directly traced from Sailor Chibi Moon.

Sailor Moon Transformed Magical Girl Anime

Sailor Moon (1992–1997) wasn't the first magical girl anime, but magical girl anime wasn't the same after it introduced the concept of a "transforming heroine" who fights against evil, combining elements of tokusatsu TV shows like Ultraman and the Super Sentai series with female-centric storytelling.

Created by a woman in a mostly male industry, Sailor Moon normalized LBGTQIA+ characters and appealed to all ages, races and genders. It made perfect sense why other creators, even those within Toei Animation—the studio that did not create Sailor Moon, but animated the shows—would want to create their own girl-oriented franchise to cash in on the genre.

Unfortunately, this led to later shows copying more than they should.

Tokyo Mew Mew (2002–2003)

For example, in the anime Tokyo Mew Mew, Ichigo Momomiya's bell weapon, wand, and heart compact are directly traced from Sailor Chibi Moon's exact same items. Chibi Moon had these items since the mid-1990s, while Ichigo did not debut in manga until 2000.

Tokyo Mew Mew New (2022)

Tokyo Mew Mew New, the series reboot broadcast on TV Tokyo in the summer of 2022, even uses the same music score, colors, and animation style from Sailor Moon Crystal (2014). In fact, both Mew Mew anime also traced Usagi's manga and Crystal Tiara weapon for Bu-Ling.

Weapons, hairstyles and even whole story scenarios have been copied from Sailor Moon and its predecessor manga, Codename Sailor V (1991–1997), in many magical girl shows.

Some of the animation in "New Cutie Honey" shows tracing over the eye shape and many of the movements from "Sailor Moon."

Some of the animation in "New Cutie Honey" shows tracing over the eye shape and many of the movements from "Sailor Moon."

Cutie Honey Flash/Cutie Honey F (1997-1998)

When Sailor Moon was nearing the end of its original broadcast run in 1997, Toei realized they needed another girl-oriented show. Future titles such as Pretty Cure (see below) and Ojamajo Doremi (1999–2003) would be created to fill the void. Before them, however, came a reworked classic.

Toei talked Go Nagai into a second reboot of his 1973 hit Cutie Honey, an adult's magical girl metaseries about a 16-year-old android girl who fights crime after the murder of her father.

Wanting to retain the Sailor Moon fanbase, Toei and Nagai agreed to throw away his original style in favor of tracing over the eye shape and many of the movements from Sailor Moon. In fact, if you pause Episode 199 right as Sailor Star Healer performs an attack, you can see a half-erased outline of one of Honey's new forms from a cel later used in the fourth episode of Cutie Honey: Flash (1997).

Traces of Sailor Moon

New merchandise for the show was recycled from canceled toys for Sailor Moon. Cutie Honey dolls bore Usagi's actual face, while weapons and lockets closely resembled items for Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon.

Major plot elements were changed in order to hook Sailor Moon fans. New character Twilight Prince was traced from Kunzite and like Tuxedo Mask, threw roses, while Honey's friend Natsuko was now drawn like a teenage Chibiusa.

Only 39 episodes and a film were produced, with the series even ending with Honey marrying and having a daughter, exactly like Usagi.

In "Smile PreCure!" you can actually see Pegasus from "Sailor Moon SuperS" in the attack and engraved onto actual weapons.

In "Smile PreCure!" you can actually see Pegasus from "Sailor Moon SuperS" in the attack and engraved onto actual weapons.

Pretty Cure (aka PreCure) (2004–present)

Many of the weapons in Pretty Cure/PreCure are traced from Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon and several characters share Chibiusa's hairstyle.

Allusions to Sailor Moon SuperS

Smile PreCure! (2012) went the extra mile in thieving from Sailor Moon SuperS (1995–1996). All of the weapons and wands are directly traced from SuperS and girls use charms and bows from older Sailor Moon toys. In fact, if you do a Google search for "Smile PreCure Princess Form and Rainbow Buster" you'll see Pegasus from SuperS in the attack and engraved onto weapons. They even traced Neo Queen Serenity's tiara. (For more details, check out "This is from the latest episode of Smile Precure!," linked below in Further Reading.)

Hug! Pretty Cure (2018–2019)

Hug! Pretty Cure also traces over many Sailor Moon items, and then takes it a step further, making transformed Hana look similar to Chibiusa. Toei took Chibiusa's story of time traveling to save her mother, fused it with Chibi Chibi's manga story about being Sailor Cosmos, and combined both into the character of Cure Tomorrow/Hug-Tan—even using Usagi's relationship to Chibi Chibi as a base for many episodes involving Hana raising her future daughter.

Madoka wears almost the same exact dress as Chibiusa in a 2000 "Sailor Moon" paper doll book.

Madoka wears almost the same exact dress as Chibiusa in a 2000 "Sailor Moon" paper doll book.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)

Even magical girl "deconstruction" shows can't help but take from Sailor Moon. Puella Magi Madoka Magica flipped the idea of the fluffy, magical animal mascot being "trustworthy" on its ear, with many fans looking to Sailor Moon's Luna and Artemis and Cardcaptor Sakura's Cerberus (aka Kero) as influences.

But, for everything the 2011 anime tried to do somewhat originally, it can't help but be associated with Sailor Moon's Chibiusa.

Sailor Moon Paper Doll Book (2000)

In 2000, a Sailor Moon paper doll book was released with Chibiusa wearing almost the exact same dress Madoka wears. The only difference is the length of skirt, but add in that puffy, pink hair and red eyes, and it's easy to see Sailor Moon in Madoka.

Naoko Takeuchi, creator of "Sailor Moon," was openly inspired by fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Gianni Versace, and Thierry Mugler.

Naoko Takeuchi, creator of "Sailor Moon," was openly inspired by fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Gianni Versace, and Thierry Mugler.

Sailor Moon Borrowed From Fashion

Some may argue that for all of Sailor Moon's influence, it's not like it wasn't borrowing ideas from other people. In fact, Naoko Takeuchi, creator of "Sailor Moon," was openly inspired by fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Gianni Versace, and Thierry Mugler.

Princess Serenity's iconic gown began life as Christian Dior's Il Palladio dress, while Koan walked straight from the Fall-Winter 1992 Mugler collection, hair and all. Meanwhile, Black Lady's iconic color manga pose is a direct copy of Kate Moss's pose from an old Yves Saint Laurent ad. In fact, many iconic costumes and villains in Sailor Moon can be traced back to various fashion designers and models until midway through the Infinity Arc/Sailor Moon S.

Sailor Moon Borrowed From Super Sentai

Toei tokusatsu shows like La Belle Fille Masquée Poitrine and Super Sentai's Goranger inspired Sailor Moon's weaponry, use of team lineups, and even a few story plots in Codename Sailor V and Sailor Moon.

True fans of magical girls should emulate Naoko Takeuchi's ability to build on the past while churning out inspiring, creative, female-first originality.

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