This month marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most influential anime series of all time: Sailor Moon. While the Monster of the Week structure and overarching cosmic storylines were fun, the characters were where this show really excelled and the DiC localization also helped define the Sailor Scouts and their friends for an entire generation of fans.
All of the scouts deserved to be someone’s favorites, but some of them were friendlier than others. Some characters had better stories, had cooler abilities, had better costumes, or were just more appealing to audiences.
ten Sailor Mini Moon
As boring as Serena can be at the start of Sailor Moon, her future time-traveling child was far worse. Rini was snotty, destructive, and sometimes downright cruel. Her introduction marked the point where the lore went from deep to unnecessarily complex, and Sailor Mini Moon never felt like she fully belonged.
She had some redeeming factors. Like her mother, Rini was kind to those she loved and befriended the dark Hotaru. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Mini Moon was always a frustrating addition to any episode she found herself in and was essentially the franchise’s Scrappy-Doo.
9 Marin Neptune and Marin Uranus
Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus brought new blood to the series, providing a foil for Sailor Moon and her crew. As ordinary people, Michelle and Amara were the epitome of cool. One was a graceful and refined violinist, while the other was an outstanding racing driver. As Sailor Scouts, they took on a darker role than the main heroes, going so far as to kill to achieve their goals.
Neptune and Uranus came as a whole, doing virtually nothing apart from each other. They were ineffective for most of their appearances, serving first to slow down the plot and later to provide heavy artillery. Worse, they obstructed — and actively mocked — the morality embodied by the main cast. These two brought Sailor Moon the gritty antiheroes the show didn’t know it needed.
8 tuxedo mask
Guardian and protector of the Sailor Scouts, Tuxedo Mask was always sure to get the heroes out of trouble. As long as he hasn’t been brainwashed by villains like Queen Beryl. Or temporarily bad. Or have a bout of memory loss. Or at university. Darien often felt like the hero of a different story, with its tragic backstory and reluctance to accept his mystical fate.
Tuxedo Mask was one of the coolest heroes on children’s television in the 90s. He was suave and good-natured, had an incredible leitmotif, and wore an incredibly stylish suit. He always let the main cast shine after freeing them from traps or distracting the villain. But then you remember he was four years older than Serena, and even some characters on the show found their relationship inappropriate.
7 Sailor Saturn
Poor Hotaru couldn’t catch a break. First, she was nearly killed when one of her father’s experiments exploded. Next, she was possessed by the evil Mistress 9. She was also the embodiment of the dreaded Sailor Saturn, whose power was meant to destroy worlds. And worst of all, his only friend was Rini.
Hotaru was adorable, if not tragic. She was an outcast no matter what role she played, and only seemed to exist to break the record for the most storylines crammed into a single character. It was hard not to support her, but in the end, it was also hard to enjoy her screen time. At least she had an awesome design.
6 Marine Mercury
Amy was nerdy, shy and obsessed with homework – especially given the PSAs at the end of each episode. Her main characteristics were being smart and having a computer. As Sailor Mercury, her abilities were water-based and her favored opening was Mercury Bubbles Blast. Not exactly the team’s most intimidating attack.
All of this belies the fact that Amy always put her friendships first and had the courage to stand up for what was right. She even withstood a brainwashed tuxedo mask. She was the team’s strategist but also knew how to have fun with the best of them. In Japan, she tends to be the most popular character, so Mercury fans are in good company.
5 Sailor March
Sailor Mars was a no-nonsense ass-kicker who never shied away from being fierce in battle or in her friendships. She often clashed with Serena and Sailor Moon, using tough love to make sure her friend was on the right track. As Sailor Mars, she had fire-based abilities that were devastating to her enemies, often punching well above her weight. And that’s not to mention the elegant pink overalls.
What made Raye so cool sometimes worked against her when it came to her own story arcs. She often felt like a side or secondary character. Fittingly, her most iconic moment was serving Sailor Moon, the last surviving scout to protect her leader before the final battle against Queen Beryl.
Every magical girl anime has its mentor mascot, and the cat Luna was the very definition of the trope. She was Serena’s guide to the magical aspects of her life and recruited most of the main Sailor Scouts. Motherly, kind, and more than a little feisty, Luna made sure the heroes (and the audience) knew what was going on and how to deal with it.
Luna was a familiar presence in every episode. It’s very easy for a Magical Girl’s animal companion to be annoying or ineffective, but Luna was always a comfortable and welcome presence that helped the plot move forward. More than that, she remained important throughout the series, helping the Sailor Scouts in battle and in life.
3 Sailor Venus
Mina already had a career as a solo superhero and international celebrity Sailor V. Her tragic story was one of the most moving stories on the show, and she happily took on the role of friend and mentor to Sailor Moon. His addition to the amateur team marked the transition to a much deeper and darker story direction for the show.
With their similar abilities and contrasting backstories, Mina and Sailor Venus were an interesting parallel to Serena and Sailor Moon. They quickly became very close and their friendship was one of mutual respect, admiration and mutual upliftment. Ultimately, though, this character was meant to let someone else shine brighter.
2 Sailor Moon
On the one hand, the series’ protagonist had the deepest story arcs, some of the coolest abilities, and so much style. On the other, she was incredibly annoying, especially in the early episodes. Serena was clumsy and a massive whiner. As Sailor Moon, she gained great self-confidence. However, over the course of the series, she overcame supernatural and mundane issues with flying colors.
It’s rare for a media’s main character to be the most compelling, but there’s a case to be made here. Her character growth was a joy to watch, and even with all of Sailor Moon’s grace and power, Serena never stopped being a goof. She was a wonderful role model for children, proving that hard work and dedication are the keys to greatness more than any magical destiny.
1 Sailor Jupiter
If there was ever a sidekick who stole the show, it’s Sailor Jupiter. Lita came onto the scene as an anti-bully vengeful, saving Serena from would-be thieves. She punched a high-ranking Negaverse General in the face and fought a monster before she even had the ability to transform. As Sailor Jupiter, she was able to take on a whole host of enemies with her lightning abilities.
His story arcs were also emotionally gripping. She was an orphan who had a bad reputation due to her strong sense of justice (and her fists), much like Batman. Despite all this, she wanted to find love and studied both martial arts and cooking. Lita was relatable and ambitious, and it helped that the story never hurt her. While she may not have been the show’s main character, she was truly a superhero that American kids loved to see on their screens.
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