Naoko Takeuchi Interview in ROLa Magazine January 2014

Thank you to Mizuno Caitlin from Wild Mushroomland, who kindly scanned this Naoko Takeuchi interview in ROLa Magazine January 2014 issue! Because of Caitlin, not only can we share these scans, but we could also translate this interview into English. Many thanks to Izam for doing some of the translation work in this article. Please enjoy!

Naoko Takeuchi Interview in ROLa Magazine January 2014
Naoko Takeuchi Interview in ROLa Magazine January 2014

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Naoko Takeuchi Interview in ROLa Magazine January 2014

ROLa January 2014 Cover
This is our third issue featuring an interview with Naoko Takeuchi, and it contains the climatic ending. Please enjoy reading it.

Shounen Aya: It must have been very busy for you during the original serialization.

Osano Fumio:It certainly was. We used to have meetings that lasted long after midnight back then.

Takeuchi Naoko:That’s true. Back then I used to go to this book store in Roppongi to look at manga to get ideas, and I ended up buying way too much. Even though work was so busy back then, sometimes I got to work on sewing, or I would take off in my car on a drive to Izu…

Aya:All the way to Izu! That’s a shock…Anyway, 20 years have passed and Sailor Moon still hasn’t gotten stale at all, which is amazing. It’s even still really popular abroad. Have you gotten any surprising offers from fans abroad?

Takeuchi:There was an offer made from Hollywood to make a movie. (LOL)

Osano:The truth is its really hard to make a movie adaptation with Hollywood. It would be almost impossible to do without messing up the original work.

Aya:You mean, they’d make the sailor soldiers all muscle-y, amped up beefcakes?!

Takeuchi:Yes, exactly.(LOL)

Aya:I would hate that. (LOL) When the serialization of Sailor Moon was running, the anime and musicals were also simultaneously happening, so Mrs. Takeuchi, do you have any thoughts you can share about what it was like doing a mixed media campaign?

Takeuchi:I think looking back on it, I think it’s good to do something different like that. But because I was so young when I was in the thick of it, it felt awful, and there was definitely a part of me that felt it was way too difficult to handle.

Aya:Okay, this is the last thing…can you please share a message to your fans in commemoration of the series’s 20th anniversary, please?

Takeuchi:I think for people who are in their 20s and 30s these days, they feel the same way about Sailor Moon that I did for Candy Candy, back when I was first beginning to draw the Sailor Moon series. And I’m happy about that. But I’m also really embarassed, because my work back then was so sloppy, I was such a rookie, and I didn’t have much professionalism. But I never imagined that 20 years later, this work of mine would still be so popular, and I can’t believe that there are still so many people who love it (laughs). But you know, even know when I hear someone say that they love Sailor Moon, that they think its beautiful, it makes me really happy to hear that.

Aya:Thank you for spending your time here, it was really a treasure to have you with us. Sincerest thanks for doing this!

(Interview Complete)

Aya: I wonder what Sailor Moon really means to women. I wonder what it is about the series that has such a grip on them.

This is an important question that I wanted to resolve during this year’s series anniversary. Back in June the cosmetic compact went up for pre-order on the Bandai site, and the traffic was so overwhelming that the server crashed. Continuing on with the figurines, the sales for those have been fantastic, and when the musicals began back in September, the audience was 80% female. You could hear the cries of the audience during the show, some of them had tears streaming down their faces. From a combination of nostalgia and from being involved in the series they all loved and remember from childhood. You could feel the intense passion for the series in the atmosphere during the performances. So I have to wonder what it is about Sailor Moon. Between interviewing the goddess herself, and talking with fans, I’ve been flooded with many emotions myself, but through it all I’ve been thinking about the topic of “hope” that this series creates.

Sailor Moon is our hope. She’s never shaken, she never becomes obscure, she’s bedazzled, and I think that’s what we all hope to be like.

When Naoko Takeuchi created the series back in the early 1990s, it was immediately after the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was passed, which enabled women everywhere to go out into the world. It was in such perfect timing that the sailor soldiers appeared, perfect visions of newfound freedom, presenting a new type of woman.

And with this new freedom, women became stronger. They could go out, beautifully, and tackle strong enemies. In a way that none of us would be able to do individually.

And then there were the sailor soldiers, in their fluttering sailor collars and mini skirts, fighting along courageously. Women all over the world were given a battle cry and rallied around this image.

Freedom and Hope

Shouting out the phrase “Make Up” was a new phenomenon. For the first time, it wasn’t being used to get “love” from the opposite sex, or to be a “mask”, but it was used for genuine self satisfaction. On top of that, her super-decked out costume was pretty much nonfunctional. It wasn’t designed to be evaluated and judged by others, but was an expression of an individualistic fashion choice that one could fight strongly and proudly in. Maybe it had some influence on the Gyaru and Harajuku fashion scenes. If you told me you thought it was cute, then it is! And that’s strength.

In the real world, a woman’s make up choices are her “manners”. When I think about it, I think that’s kind of funny. Women are under a certain obligation to look pure and clean, and beautiful all the time (maybe due to the pressures of the “old grandpas” like we talked about before!) One of Sailor Moon’s major achievements is that it takes advantage of the idea that makeup is a spell, an incantation one can use – that idea is shown in many of its major scenes with the sailor soldiers.

An essential part of the story revolves around the bonds between women, and depictions of their friendships. Just hanging around, eating pizzas, talking all night long, or eating sweets and snacks. Of course, they face battles too, but in the end the main thing that brings them to victory is their cooperative effort. A common trope is that a woman’s enemy is women , which we see in shows like Sex and the City, but for the sailor soldiers this isn’t the case.

The hero of this work, Tuxedo Mask, was an entirely new creation as well. He would show up, throwing a rose at the enemy any time the sailor soldiers find themselves in a pinch. He’s a really cool character, but he’s practically powerless, and is usually protected by the brave female characters. Some people may laugh at that kind of man, but I think it’s a good thing. He’s delicate like a flower. And among all those women, he’s the only guy, and handsome to boot. And its possible that this trope of the useless male surrounded by pretty heroines came from this series. And maybe that’s the point. That women can complete missions on their own. That women can be protectors and lovers.

This inversion of genders, a gender swap between the stereotypical hero and heroine was a great innovation. Tuxedo Mask, who never has to put on a macho front, is an incredibly well-liked and popular character, and his humility and vulnerability is an important aspect of that. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to have a man who can support women in their battles?

This work’s ability to give women a way to express their style and freedom is immeasurable.

20 years have passed since then. Unfortunately, social pressures on girls are still pretty tight. Women everywhere are still desperately fighting society for their freedoms, and they have to have a tough skin to get by. I think that’s why, universally, the sailor soldiers are such an inspiration. At the theater where the musical was held, you could almost feel the tension in the air – that’s why there was such a flood of orders for the transformation compacts, it’s because of the enthusiasm we still have for those ideals.

Sailor Moon, we may not end up like you in the end, but we’re still going to continue the fight, and we won’t give up. Becasuse you’re the hope of women everywhere. Maybe in the future we’ll unite as one. I believe we will. So from now on, I’m going to fight with my face held high. And when I get discouraged, I’ll sentimentally think about you. And together we’ll both shout – Moon Prism Power, Make Up!

Mr. Osabu and Shounen Aya talk about Sailor Moon to exhaustion!!

Girls Manga Scene
“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”
–The Case of Kodansha’s Mr. Osano Fumio —

On October 1st, a talk event happened at B&B in Shimokitazawa between Mr. Fumio Osano and Shounen Aya. The event wrapped in fans’ enthusiasm came to an end in great success. Although it’s a digest, we bring to you the extremely precious words that flew from Mr. Osano’s mouth. Please be satisfied with this special evening party.

Aya: You helped me out so much during Mrs. Naoko Takeuchi’s interview. Thank you so much. It was like a dream come true.

Osano: Thank you as well.

Aya: Getting right into it, first I’d like to ask about Mrs. Takeuchi’s original manga. It’s difficult to tell when you print it, but I was very surprised when I heard that Mrs. Takeuchi’s original manga has many things with beads and lace attached.

Osano: It was an extremely troublesome original manga for us (laughs). Which is to say, and this becomes a specialized discussion, but you can’t print illustrations with 3D objects attached with regular offset printing. You need to take a picture of the illustration, then print it using a manufacturing process where you circulate that photo in the printing press, so it’s an illustration that makes editors and print shops cry. On top of that, there’s the possibility that beads, etc will come plopping off when moving it, so it’s a pain to handle. Therefore, I pleaded “Please refrain from attaching 3D objects” with Mrs. Takeuchi several times, but she didn’t care (laughs). However, looking at it after several decades, each drawing is incredibly wonderful… Those illustrations made me cry at that time, but thinking back on it, I definitely feel that she was right.

Aya: It’s practically a work of art.

Osano: Maybe it’s not appropriate for me who was assigned to be her manager to say this, but Mrs. Takeuchi is truly gifted with color illustrations. She has a talent for color. Therefore, in order to print as many of the original manga color illustrations the way they are, we’re very diligent with coloring. It’s also true for ROLa, but normally one used the three colors of magenta, cyan, and yellow and black for color printing. However, for Nakayoshi, we were adding fluorescent pink ink whose cost is three times as much as the primary three colors. By using this ink, it becomes a beautiful finish where it’s like the colors of each individual’s skin pop, and one can draw out a more realistic feel of material.

Aya: It’s cute how the magical ink is fluorescent pink.

Osano: Recently, digital techniques have been improving, so we’ve become able to reproduce a color close to the original manga without adding fluorescent pink. This time, even ROLa didn’t use fluorescent pink, but I think that we had the print shop do their best and produce a color close to the original manga coloring. I digress, but we’re using beautiful colors for the illustrations on the front covers of the Perfect Edition which is being published this time around, so please look forward to it.

She kisses him and faces battle

Aya: I’d also like to ask you about the content of the manga – which scene are you most emotionally attached to?

Osano: I knew you’d ask me this, so I thought about my answer ahead of time (laughs). The scene I have the most emotional attachment to is the scene in act eight when Sailor Moon gives Tuxedo Kamen a kiss of her own volition and faces battle. In the preparation meeting for act eight, Mrs. Takeuchi didn’t say “Add a kiss scene”, but when it became more well-known, that scene was added. My heart was stolen as soon as I saw it.

Aya: Kissing a boy and jumping into the battle front — How cool… (ecstatically). By the way, the scene I like is the last scene of act 49. After the battle with the Dead Moon group ended, Usagi gazes forward and says “The fact that my chest feels so warm is proof that the Earth is shining”. Of course Mrs. Takeuchi’s picture sense came into play, but I think that her way with words is exceptional. Please also let me ask you about Nakayoshi. Of course I love the bonuses in this magazine, but I just love Nakayoshi appendixes. In the first place, who makes the appendixes?

Osano: When Nakayoshi takes on a new manga artist as an employee, and their series is popular, we’ll generally run a promotional appendix item for them for about 3 years. When I was a new employee at Nakayoshi, my first assignment was running the appendices section. I entered the company thinking I’d make books, but who would have thought even in dreams that I would make appendixes, so when I was told by the editor-in-chief “You’re going to make these kinds of appendixes” at that time, my eyes actually popped out. Every day, you desperately think about how much of a thing you can make within a limited budget. At the time, we were able to maintain a decent lead over our rival magazine Ribbon in sales and appendixes, so I was shouted at “Make appendixes so that they’re more charming than Ribbon’s, even if they’re just slightly better” by my boss.

Aya: Ugh, that sounds terrible…

Osano: You could say that Ribbon had at atmosphere around it like it was king of magazines – I mean, you could certainly make the case that they were when it came to the appendixes. We were using really basic colors like yellow, red, and fluorescent pink, so trying to compete, we were using stylish colors that Ribbon likely wouldn’t use such as pastel colors, because typically kids don’t want overly “babyish” type colors..

Aya: Is that so? I would never have known you guys were the underdogs. Do you have an appendix item from the magazines you’re especially fond of?

Osano:Well, I did make an appendix item for the series “Goldfish Warning!”. When I made this appendix item, it was supposed to just be a little memopad, but then it got the title of “student handbook”, and it morphed into a notebook where you could insert pictures of yourself and your friends.I thought it was a really great idea, really innovative. (laughs) Nowadays there’s a lot more freedom in what we can give away as appendix items, and there’s all kinds of great items, but it used to be a lot more limited – it used to be that the items had to lay flat in the magazine, but of course these days the items basically turn the books into mountains with a big bulging item in the center.Ever since around the year 2000, the regulations around the appendix items have gotten a lot more relaxed, so we see more creative items in today’s issues.

Aya:That’s so cool that you made your own appendix item though! Speaking of appendixes, I was also curious about the full-item services that are offered.

Osano:When I was working for “Nakayoshi”, there were around 70,000 subscribers to the service. The most popular items of all time were from Sailor Moon…the “Luna Pen Case” and the “Time Key” items…I remember back then we used to get tons of calls in to the editorial department from people who were saying, “my items still haven’t come in the mail yet”, we were on the phone all night handling customer issues sometimes…

In a “Nakayoshi” Mood

Aya:Even though you got to be involved in making the appendix items, I hear that it’s very difficult for men to get involved in making girls comics.

Osano:That’s true. When I was first working for “Nakayoshi”, almost all of the editors, editors-in-chief, and the artists themselves were women. Of the three lead editors of Kodansha who were represented in the office, I was the only male. I was surprised by how hard the schedule was that my superiors followed – they would end the day at around midnight, and be back at work by 8 AM the next morning, and I used to try really hard to keep up with them. I was shocked by how hard it was. There were some days I would say to myself, “I’m just going to jump out of the window”. Because at the time, the Nakayoshi Editorial Department was on the 5th floor of our building (laughs). Anyway, these days I’m so grateful to our editor in chief from back then, now that I think about it all back then it really puts me in a “Nakayoshi” mood.

Aya:So in other words, they teased you. (laughs)

Osano: Oh, I’ve gotten off topic haven’t I? Well, it’s certainly difficult for men to get involved in making girls comics. Well, you know how at the end of chapters now a days it’ll tell you when the next issue is? When I first brought it up to the editorial team, they laughed at me and said it was a dumb idea (laughs). But these days it’s always in the books. But I kept on ahead, and put in things like “Wait to see the end in the next issue!” or “What’s going to happen next!”, and the ladies who were involved in publishing comics for young women thought it was really silly. I felt awful that they didn’t think it was a good idea. You know, in the end I succeeded. By the time Sailor Moon started, I used to put in catch-phrases that at the time were only ever seen in boy’s magazines, like “Wait and see what happens in the next issue!”, against all the advice of my female co-workers.

Aya: That’s quite a story…

It Varies from Country to Country

Aya:People all around the world have been reading ROLa’s interview with Naoko Takeuchi, but it seems that fans in Italy were the very first to publish a full translation.

Osano:That’s right…I bet there are Italians reading this one right now too…speaking of which, did you know that Mr. Umino was totally replaced in the Italian version of the anime?

Aya:W-why would they do something like that…?

Osano:Mr. Umino is a character who wears these giant swirling glasses. But I guess in Italy, wearing glasses is a sign of physical inferiority, and they didn’t want to promote a character that had that problem, so we thought it would be impossible to air him as is. So in Italy, Mr. Umino’s glasses aren’t really made such a focus in the Italian anime. Also in Indonesia, there were a ton of cuts for various religious reasons. For example, Sailor Saturn was removed as much as possible for some mysterious reason.

Aya: I had heard about some places changing the relationship between Uranus and Neptune as well…but they shouldn’t have changed the story at all. Come to think of it, Mrs. Takeuchi came up with the name for the story pretty early on, isn’t that right?

Osano: Sailor Moon took about a week to settle on, but we decided on Sailor V right away. And during the second print of Sailor Moon, we decided to write it a little differently. But for Sailor V, we didn’t need to change a thing.

Aya: Maybe that’s because Sailor V is short in comparison…

Osano: With Sailor V, Mrs. Takeuchi had a lot more freedom to draw it exactly as she wanted, whereas with Sailor Moon there was a lot more supervision, there was just a lot more on the line. As the story went on, the hype for the series became greater and greater, and so we couldn’t afford any missteps. When it finally ended, Mrs. Takeuchi was so relieved not to have to face the pressures surrounding it anymore. Toward the end of the comic, Mrs. Takeuchi used to take so much inspiration from Enka song lyrics that I used to think she ought to have gotten permission from JASRAC to use their work (laughs)

Aya: When I hear about you and Mrs. Takeuchi, the relationship between you two reminds me quite a lot of the relationship between Usagi and Luna. In any case, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I can’t wait to see more of the development plans for Sailor Moon’s 20th anniversary!

ROLa’s the only place where you can read Osabu’s inside scoop!
Telephone #: 162-8711
c/o Shinchousha Editorial Department
Shinjuku Yaraicho 71
Tokyo, Japan
[email protected]

The age of magical girl comics dawns with Sailor Moon

Beautiful girls who transform and fight – with the advent of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon”, this magical girls series took off to become a smash hit. Throughout the 1990s, monthly magazines like “Ribon”, “Ciao”, and “Nakayoshi” were packed full of magical girl series, many of which were adapted into anime series. From titles like “Princess’s Ribbon” where an average girl one day receives a ribbon which allows her to transform, to gag comedy series set in a magical kingdom like “Little Red Riding Hood Cha Cha”, to series where human girls are transported into a magical realm like “Magic Knight Rayearth”, to the popular theif-themed shows like “Saint Tail” and “Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne”, the 1990s gave birth to many classic magical girl comic and anime series.

Idol – Magical Training – What I Want to Become…The Development of Magical Girls

Later, the magical girls genre really took off with series like “Ultra Maniac”, about a girl with a magic computer, and “Sugar Sugar Rune”, about a girl with a magical spell book, who had magical items. In 1999 the series “Ojamajo Doremi” became an animated show, about a group of school girls who become witch apprentices. Later in 2004, the smash-hit series “PreCure” began. This series not only sparked an animated show, but also light novels and video games, igniting a huge trend in the magical girls genre for parody and run-off series.
This year’s smash successes “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, whose influence on fashion, with collaborations from popular idols has been widespread, and a come-back show from the 1980s called “Creamy Mami”. This year is also the 20th anniversary of the iconic series “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, which has been popular throughout its inception. Don’t take your eyes off of the magical girl series in the future, there’s much more to come!