The creator of BISHOUJO SENSHI SAILORMOON speaks at the
1998 San Diego International Comics Convention
Photos and text by Mark Vallen ©

In 1998, fans of anime in the United States had a rare opportunity to hear and met the talented Naoko Takeuchi. On a late friday afternoon, a huge room at the San Diego Convention Center became the gathering place for hundreds of Sailormoon fans. They began lining up a full hour before the scheduled event and everyone was excited and full of anticipation. Many wore t-shirts emblazoned with their favorite Sailormoon characters and others wore full costumes. The crowd was a good mix of ages and races, and many fans clutched Sailormoon books, cels, posters, and other goodies for Ms. Takeuchi to autograph.
Picture of Naoko-san at the panel
Naoko-san takes questions from the audience.
Naoko-san was brought out and received a thunderous standing ovation... she was clearly moved all smiles. Ms. Takeuchi's insightful answers to the many questions were revealing and often times funny. North American fans who hadn't seen the full extent of Naoko-san's work had many questions cleared up from the artist herself and numerous troublesome rumors were also put to rest. Some of the more illuminating moments of the panel came from Naoko-san's answers to rather simple questions.

When asked "What inspired you to create Sailormoon?" Naoko-san answered that in Japan, the sailor uniform was very much the symbol of a young schoolgirl and that junior high was a very challenging and emotional period for girls. She wanted to create a character that would empower her readers, that girls could easily relate to because of the uniform. She also joked that older men also liked those uniforms, and may explain
the diverse fanbase!

When a fan asked "What gender are the Star Lights?" the question presented an instance where Naoko-san displayed annoyance with the producers of the anime series. She put the matter to rest by proclaiming that in the manga, the Three Lights had "always been girls", but that the anime studio made them into guys that transformed into girls! She admitted that this studio alteration really bothered her but that it was outside of her control.
Naoko-san's drawing of Ami-chan.
Naoko-san receiving artwork from a fan.
The question "Are Uranus and Neptune really lovers, and if so why did you make them gay?" came from a young female fan who wanted a clear answer. The translator for the event left Naoko-san in a lurch, not fully comprehending the homophobia in the West that makes such a pairing unacceptable to some (for those in the don't know, Uranus and Neptune are two female characters who enjoy a close relationship). Naoko-san's answer was that, "YES, they were a couple!"

Naoko-san obviously saw no problem in such a relationship, commenting only that Neptune was "feminine" and Uranus "masculine" and joked they had a relationship because "they had lot's of time on their hands." In yet another question of gender, Naoko-san also came clean by saying that Haruka (Uranus) always has been and always will be a girl, dispelling long held rumors of hermaphroditism or that Haruka "had been a Prince in another lifetime." Perhaps one of the most touching moments of the panel was when a little 10 year old girl dressed as Sailor Mercury asked Naoko-san simply, "Do you believe in astrology?" The crowd oohed and Naoko-san was obviously moved, and replied that yes, she did,
and asked "Mercury" if she did as well.

Naoko-san was very curious about her North American fans, and during the later half of her panel she asked a series of questions of her audience. This interaction revealed that Naoko-san is good friends with Yuu Watase (the artist responsible for Fushigi Yuugi and Ayashi no Ceres), and that they send each other drawings by fax all the time!
Picture of a Sailormoon fan in costume
"Who are all these baka Mixx people?"
Naoko-san asked "Are there any girls here who want to be manga artists?" The overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to this question must have delighted Naoko-san to no end. Almost a third of the audience raised it's hands to this question. Some budding artists even raised up their own drawings in response! Naoko-san also asked "Do you have School Festivals? Is it popular to come in costume like this?" Naoko-san commented that at school festivals in Japan, some people come in anime costumes... since she was aware we had no such festivals in the U.S., she wondered where we would wear costumes. The crowd shouted back; "Anime Conventions!"
Naoko-san asked "How do you know so much?" She was truly flabbergasted that fans were so well versed in her series beyond what they had been offered in the North American dub. I'm sure that Naoko-san was impressed to learn that her legions of fans were using the internet to educate themselves. I hope that what has been presented on this web page will clarify some of Naoko-san's ideas and at last put to rest some of the things we've heard about the characters in Sailormoon... after all, what more authoritative voice do you need other than Naoko Takeuchi herself? You can send fan mail to Naoko-san by writing to;

Ms. Naoko Takeuchi
c/o Nakayoshi Henshuubu
Shishobako 91
Akasaka Yuubinkyoku, Tokyo
107-8652 Japan.

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