of the double feature, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal the Movie, to be released on Netflix on June 3rd, 2021 and my discovery of the entire Sailor Moon anime series from the 90s, available over on the free video streaming service, Tubi TV, in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.
Never one to pass up the opportunity to reminisce over this classic shoujo series in its full glory, I sat down to experience the first season from the first episode to its final forty-sixth episode without censorship or “mysteriously deleted” content.
My memories with the 90s anime version of Sailor Moon can be defined by its stunning light pastel aesthetic, its cast of kickass ladies, its dreamy hunk of a male love interest and its portrayal of different romantic and platonic relationships.
As a mahou shoujo anime where the protagonists combat monsters every episode, it’s important that each (humanoid or beast-like) creature be different in appearance and ability to keep the formula entertaining.
The first season of Sailor Moon proves that the designs of the weekly antagonist can be a mixed bag of surprises. Most designs in the beginning use a slim female humanoid silhouette with long limbs which was a popular way of drawing figures in 90s manga and anime. These Youma possess sharp faces and small eyes with tiny pupils, making them appear intimidating and super creepy.
This listicle includes Youma with memorable designs inspired by their episode’s content and whose unique features and powers wowed me.
5. DD Girls
Appearing in episode forty five, “Death of the Sailor Guardians: The Tragic Final Battle”, the DD Girls parallel the Sailor Soldiers in not only being a squad of five females but having their own individual bright pastel colour scheme, a uniform of a high collar, cufflinks, heels and a sexy swimsuit (dare I say lingerie), matching oval tattoos on their foreheads and their outer thighs and a clear distinction of which girl holds the leader position (donning her own tiara).
Their body proportions are drawn with rounded shapes and curvier lines to make them appear dainty fairy/tree nymph-like beings with their long oval transparent wings and their open seraphim wing eyebrows. The seraphim element harkens to the idea of angels and the DD Girls can be considered the Sailor Soldiers’ Angels of Death at the end of the first season.
Their design is a nice contrast to how the DD Girls are absolutely ruthless, cold-hearted and cunning in reality. Their battle tactics of using illusions to lure in the guardians one by one before entangling them in vines, electrocuting and/or burning (torturing) them alive and leaving their corpse encased in large ice structures for Sailor Moon to see is so sadistic.
I could see why the DiC English dub decided to splice and piece together episodes forty-five and forty-six to avoid children from listening to the dying screams and cries of the Sailor Soldiers battling the DD Girls.
Introduced in episode eleven, “Usagi vs Rei: Nightmare in Dreamland”, Murido compliments the Sailor Moon-verse’s “Disneyland” as its iconic theme park’s token princess character.
From the Youma working under Jadeite, Murido’s silhouette strays away from the slim eerie designs of her predecessors to be a charming Snow White-esque villainess with a ball-jointed doll body, a large poofy skirt and a rosy red apple.
Her transformation sequence is a little creepy once you see her head suddenly slink into her high collar which activates a turning wind-up sound effect and a music box melody. Her headless body spins until her dress takes on a darker colour palette of black, red and purple and the music box melody stops. It compliments nicely with her now long light pink curls, paler complexion and frigid dark blue lip. My favourite part of her outfit is her red crown with the black triangle decoration on the front with what resembles beetle horns protruding from the crown’s top.
From a quick read of Oskar O.K. Strom’s article on Kabutomushi and Kuwagatamushi beetles in anime on HoneyAnime, Murido resembles the Kuwagatamushi with her overall black outfit and antler shaped beetle mandibles crown design. Strom writes that the two beetle species are popular in the Japanese culture because of their interesting horns. Murido’s horns can be interpreted to emphasize her position as the queen of her domain.
Mitsuami appears in the second half of the Sailor Moon series in episode thirty six, “Usagi’s Confusion: Is Tuxedo Mask Evil?” Her design is one example where the monster of the day looks goofy rather than creepy, but I placed her on my list because:
- Her silhouette is unique and not hyper feminine, created out of interesting triangular and rectangular shapes instead of rounded or straight lines. I love her broad shoulders and decorative spikes echo the female power suit’s overemphasized shoulder pads of 80s and early 90s fashion.
- Her hairstyle is interesting because her blonde hair is split into four long braids suspended into the air at different angles, forming an “X”, suggesting movement with the two intersecting diagonal lines.
- Mitsuami’s physique resembles a football player which makes a lot of sense when you recall how a team of seven women molded together to create the Youma. She’s incredibly powerful, enough to run right through a cement wall like a bulldozer truck.
- Her weapons were really cool in that the compartment on her right arm can fit different attachments with destructive powers, ranging from a giant hair dryer working like a flame thrower to a giant buzzing razor resembling a smoking chainsaw crushing everything in its path to dust.
This list wouldn’t have been complete if I didn’t include an entry from the anime-only, Seven Great Youma. Rei’s grandfather transforms into Jiji in episode 30 “Grandpa Loses Control: Rei in Danger”. Compared to the other male designs, Jiji’s design does not look like it could belong to a sentai anime/TV show.
I like how his design doesn’t take direct inspiration from a Japanese Oni design. There was a kabuki Youma in the earlier episodes, but I felt it was too literal of a design to include on the list. Jiji’s design has a comical and wild feel and feels like an amalgamation of elements sewn together to create something new. He’s a mashup between a komainu (a lion dog guardian statue found outside at the gates or inside Japanese shrines) and a giant ape with a stout, heavy frame.
Jiji’s open mouthed facial features and the shape of the horns jutting from his forehead resemble the komainu’s intimidating expression. It could be argued that the rest of his body is more human-like or like a giant ape because they can grow to be quite top heavy with large muscular arms.
His red face, matching kerchief tied around his shoulders which hides his non-existent neck, bulgy golden yellow eyes and bushy white hair pops from the rest of his body.
Before revealing the Youma who received my nod for first place, I do want to give honorable mention to:
Honorable Mention: Legendary Lake Monster
Said Lake Monster comes from episode 40 “The Legendary Lake Youkai: The Bond of Usagi’s Family” and is one of two creatures from the first season who isn’t a genuine Youma. According to “The Legend of the Lovers”, a man fell in love with an angel. In a fit of rage and jealousy, the girl who was in love with the man transformed into a monster and began to destroy everything in her path. She was sealed away at the bottom of a lake by the power of the love. She was reawakened by the brainwashed Endymion to be used as a Youma for Queen Beryl’s army.
I love how her facial expression holds so much vengeance and sorrow of a woman who felt wronged by romance. Her first line in the episode is sad since she cries, “Give him back…!”
It’s ironic that the Youkai looks like a mermaid or a siren because in fairytales (like Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid) and in Greek mythology (like Homer’s Odyssey), mermaids and sirens used song and music to lure sailors to their watery demise. However, in the “Legend of the Lovers”, it could be interpreted in the Lake Monster’s perspective that the angel seduced her crush.
If you had asked me which monster of the week was cool as a child, I would have chosen her because of her abilities to fly in the sky, spew out acidic gas and super strength. This mermaid is hella deadly. What’s striking about her design is her long two toned luscious pink hair flowing against her dark blue scales, green spikes and pale yellow underbelly armour.
Episode 37 “Let’s Become A Princess: Usagi’s Bizarre Training” brought us Shakoukai. She does embody the lean female silhouette of the earlier Youma but what elevates her design is definitely her softer face structure, manicured nails and her garment.
Her dress’s cream coloured bodice fits nicely on her frame and I like how the oyster shells resemble ruffles for the whole look. The part I love the most is the long sheer seafoam green skirt attached to the bodice to create a mermaid-style evening gown with pearl beads and more oyster shells at the bottom.
I admit that her ability to turn people into living wax figures by opening up all the oysters on her body is kinda disturbing and a little bit gross, but it’s what makes her design interesting as well.
Who was your favourite Youma or Villain in Sailor Moon? Let me know down below!