Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Girls Kick Ass

By Devin D. O'Leary

MAY 24, 1999:  Inexplicable Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies recently declared in their hit "One Week" that they were "into 'Sailor Moon'" because "that cartoon has got the boom." For most radio listeners, I'm sure, the lyric fell by the wayside as one more obscure cultural reference along with Akira Kurosawa (who makes "mad films") and Burt Kampfer (who's got "the mad hits").

For those in deeper know than the average top 10 radio station listener, "Sailor Moon" is a Japanese cartoon with a strong cult following. Produced originally in the mid-'90s, it was imported to America courtesy of the French-American company DiC (which, according to certain hardcore fans, stands for "Destroying interesting Cartoons"). DiC has redubbed and re-edited a number of foreign cartoons for the American market--often obliterating much of the original charm of said shows. Despite a certain "dumbing down" of "Sailor Moon" by the folks at DiC, the show has created just as strong of a cult following in America, with Web sites, action figures and an entire line of fashions gracing trendy Hot Topic stores from coast to coast.

"Sailor Moon" tells the story of a clumsy, occasionally whiny 14-year-old junior high school girl who receives a special quest from a talking cat named Luna to fight evil and save the Earth. To accomplish this task, our heroine Serena is granted the ability to transform into the sailor-suited, super-powered Sailor Moon. Eventually, a whole gang of similarly attired girls joins her magical quest to defeat Evil Queen Beryl and the nasty forces of the Negaverse. To top things off with a hint of romance, there's also a cute guy named Darien who is secretly another evil-fighting superhero named Tuxedo Mask. If this all sounds pretty childish, don't worry--it gets weirder.

"Sailor Moon" (or "Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon" as it's known in Japan) is part of the "cute" (or "chan") wave of cartoons. Japan has some very different sensibilities, however, and uninitiated fans may be puzzled to find the cute adventures of some teenage girls and their magic cat laced with sexual innuendo, skimpy outfits, hellish demons and all manner of seemingly inappropriate behavior. Paranoid about what certain special interest groups might think, DiC excised some of the show's more extreme elements. In the original Japanese series, for example, all the characters end up dying. In America, they just get their memories erased. DiC even took measures to change one gay character into a female so as to avoid a homosexual subplot.

While the American version of "Sailor Moon" might not be as cool as the Japanese original, it does have a certain twisted appeal for fans of ass-kicking teens, weird space monsters and underage girls in miniskirts. ... And, hey, it's got "the boom."

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