MY JOURNEY WITH SAILOR MOON
by Sailor Mac
My journey to being a Sailor Moon fanfic writer had a very unspectacular beginning. It all started with a Thanksgiving Day parade.
I was surfing the dial in my mother's living room, going back and forth between the CBS coverage of several parades throughout the nation, the NBC coverage of the Macy's Parade and the local Philadelphia channel's coverage of that city's parade. I paused at one of the three. A float went by showcasing the then-new Sky Dancers toys. My mother (who has always expected me to be the family's authority on any and all pop culture, no matter what age group or target audience it's aimed at) asked me, "What the hell are Sky Dancers?" I just shrugged.
Next float comes up. It contains a bunch of young girls in miniskirts, waving to the crowd. The announcer says, "If my little girl were here, she'd be going nuts right now! It's SAILOR MOON!"
My mother, predictably, said, "What the hell is a Sailor Moon?" Again, I just shrugged.
Little did I know that I had just encountered the "person" who would change my life.
Fast-forward almost a year. I was out of work and getting pretty frustrated with life in general. To keep my spirits up, I would stay awake far into the night reading fan MSTings. It was something of a golden age of MSTings then ('97), with plenty of talented writers churning out hilarious material.
One night, I was looking at Web Site #9 and realized I couldn't find anything new. So I decided to see if there was anything promising I'd overlooked. And there was Megane 6.7's MSTing of "Artemis's Lover" by the notorious Oscar. "Sailor Moon?" I thought. "That cartoon that was a float in that Thanksgiving parade? Why would anyone want to do fanfic about that?" And so, I began to read. Of course, I was horrified by the fic. . . but I also found the MSTing funny enough to lead me to seek out other Sailor Moon MSTings.
About this time, I finally got a job, and started commuting daily to New York. I began to print out MSTings to take with me on the bus, and, as it turned out, most of them were Sailor Moon.
After reading several of them, I began to realize I was getting interested in the Sailor Moon concept itself, not just the jokes that were being made about it. So I went in search of two things: the series itself, which I found in the form of videotapes at Blockbuster (Buena Vista Video's pink-box releases, a severely truncated version of the first season dub) and actual *good* fanfiction.
I found plenty of readable material in the "general" sections of the Web sites I'd found. But what I found in the lemon section was a disappointment. The atmosphere of the series certainly leant itself to passionate romance . . . these are young women who could encounter all kinds of suitors, both "normal" and magical. Plus, the relationship between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask was a heated love story waiting to happen.
I found none of that. Instead, I found stories of tentacle rape and sexual torture, not to mention plenty of poorly written, unbelievable lesbianism.
And an idea began to form in my head. If I wasn't seeing the kind of thing I wanted to read . . . why didn't I try writing my own? I'd done some writing in the past, mostly "drawer fic" for various TV series and movies (such as several Star Wars stories that are now mercifully lost to the world). I'd even tried my hand at writing the kind of "red-cover" romance novel I'd devoured in my teens and early 20s. (That got buried even further in the bureau drawer).
I took that experience, combined it with my lifelong obsession with mythology, and began to develop a concept. What if each Sailor Scout was bonded, body, mind and soul, to the Greco-Roman god who gave his name to her home planet? I decided I was going to do five lemons, one about each girl and her relationship with her god (in the case of Venus, my concept is she would become lovers with Venus's son, Cupid).
And so, I wrote my first story, "Soul of Fire," about Raye and the god Mars, in a marathon session that began about 9 p.m. and finished at 4 a.m. When it was finished, my first thought (after "Whew!") was, "My God . . . I can't publish this under my own name!" I frantically started thinking of pen names. The first name would be Sailor, I knew that, but Sailor what?
Then, my eyes alighted on my own computer. Of course. I'd been a staunch Macintosh user and defender from the day I first got my hands on one. So I signed the story, "By Sailor Mac."
I sent it off to a couple of sites and didn't get any hate mail, which I figured was a good sign. And a week or so later, I began work on the followup, "Mercury Rising," with a similar girl-and-god concept.
But a funny thing happened on the way to my "five stories, five gods" concept. My muses got other ideas.
I'd found the broadcasts of Sailor Moon on USA Network, and for the first time, I saw the episodes where Tuxedo Mask was turned evil. I began wondering just what it took to turn him against the woman he'd loved for two lifetimes. An idea began to form in my head of a scene of horror . . . and how Serena would help him recover from that horror.
My concept of Darien as a moon god in disguise went out the window. This had to be a very *human* story, with a little magic added. And I modified the girl-and-god concept somewhat. The god or goddess was now the Sailor Scout's Guardian Deity, acting as her behind-the-scenes helper, advisor and giver of power-ups, while the Sailor was the god/goddess's champion and priestess.
The resulting story was "See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me," and I consider it the true beginning of my Sailor Moon writing career. By the time I was done, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do just one story for each character. Writing was getting just too damn addictive.
This was followed by a Lita-centric story, "Victory of Love," based on the storyline of the opera "Tosca," and "Rescue Me," which brought together the Raye/Mars and Serena/Darien storylines for a tale about Serena being stalked by a mysterious entity. Around this time, I started getting fan letters, which stunned me. People actually thought this stuff I was doing for fun was really worth reading? (Some of those earliest correspondents became very dear friends of mine). It spurred me on to do more, and more.
I started developing my own Sailor Moon alternate universe. The main thing that bothered me about canon was how Darien was always so absolutely powerless. The manga hinted that he had the potential to be just as powerful as the other Sailor Soldiers, if not Sailor Moon herself . . . his ability to draw power from the earth, his development of the Smoking Bomber attack, his eventual wielding of the Golden Crystal.
The anime squandered all that, turning him into a drone who showed up, tossed a rose, said a few pretentious phrases and got his butt kicked. Small wonder he wasn't missed by the majority of the fandom when he was written out of the story during the final season.
So I decided to try to restore his dignity, and the first step was to give him a plausible reason *why* his powers were never developed. I came up with the concept that men were discriminated against because of their gender during the Silver Millennium, much like women in our own century. Nobody in the Silver Millennium thought a man was capable of wielding magical powers, therefore, he was never trained properly.
In his current incarnation, he discovered a small part of his power, and eventually even acquired a magical weapon, the Earth Blade. But something was still holding him back. . .
My universe also featured Serena having a latent psychic ability, which she eventually developed to the point where she could communicate with Darien telepathically. It seemed like a natural extension of her abilities - one would think that someone who is destined to be the most powerful being in the universe would have paranormal talents in several areas.
Story followed story, most of them revolving around the Serena and Darien couple. There were some experiments -- a couple of stories dealing with a long-ago liaison between Tuxedo Mask and Sailor V that neither consciously remembered afterwards; "Nega Nagano," which used the 1998 Winter Olympics as a backdrop for the typical monster smackdown; and the "If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words" series, which were stories based (at times, very loosely) on doujinshi pictures.
During this period, I learned a lot about what worked and didn't work in lemon scenes, how to shift back and forth between different characters' voices, both first and third person, and the basics of story construction. I even started MSTing myself, along with a friend, Mark Berger.
Eventually, I decided to stretch my wings a little bit more, and try doing a longer, more thoughtful series. It was my friend Steven Savage, who subsequently became my editor, who suggested that I take a short piece (never published) I had done about Amy finding pornographic material about Sailor Mercury online and turn it into a whole series about a porn controversy.
The result was the Hot Controversy series, which was a real learning experience for me. I ended up taking the characters in directions I had never dreamed they could go . . . particularly Serena and Darien, whose perfect relationship turned out to be not as perfect as it originally seemed. I was a bit worried about how that installment of the series would be received by readers, since it had a bondage love scene . . . something outside the parameters of what I'd done before. To my relief, I received positive feedback on it.
Hot Controversy marked another important first for me . . . the first time I had created new, major characters. David Chase and Lori Westland weren't Sailor Soldiers, or any other kind of magical creature. They were two very human people who led the opposing factions of the pornography war, both for their own, very personal reasons. I had a lot of fun developing them. They were a stark contrast to the people surrounding them in that they had no magical powers and had never faced anything more dangerous than their own automobiles - but their lives were no less complex than those of the Sailor Soldiers. Indeed, in many ways, they were more so.
After the completion of this series, I decided it was time to fulfill a dream I'd had almost as long as I'd been in the Sailor Moon fandom. Like most fans, I felt that the SuperS season was, by far, the weakest of the five. And it didn't *have* to be. There were great villains and an intriguing premise . . . and the makers of the anime chose to bury all that in tons of sugar. What I wanted to do was nothing less than take SuperS apart and put it back together again.
I started out by going through the original anime and manga and deciding what I wanted to keep from each. The main things I took from the former were the Amazon Trio - IMHO, the most underrated villains of the entire five seasons - and the concept of Mirrors of Dreams. From the manga, I kept the curse which had been placed on Darien, the eventual involvement of the Outer Senshi and the "bad to the bone" Nehelenia, as opposed to the more sympathetic version in the first third of Sailorstars.
And then, I began jettisoning everything that was *wrong* with the original. Reenie got a complete makeover. Out went the bunny-ear hairdo and the Pink Sugar Heart Attack, and her signal to call Pegasus got changed from Twinkle Yell to Clarion Call. Her relationship with the winged horse became one of a mentor and protégé, and lost the saccharine and the nasty undercurrent of bestiality. Each Sailor Soldier had to earn her power-up by reaching a new level of maturity, rather than having Pegasus just zap them all. The fukus were eventually replaced with new uniforms that protected their entire bodies.
Furthermore, my ongoing plot thread about Darien coming into his own reached its apotheosis in this series. He was finally able to get past the inner demons he'd started wrestling with in Hot Controversy and become what he was meant to be all along.
It was while I was writing these two series that I began to broaden both my taste in anime and my range in writing. I started doing fanfiction for other series - first Fushigi Yuugi and Pokemon, then several yaoi-based ones, such as Weiss Kreuz, Kaikan Phrase, Yami no Matsuei and Gravitation. Each one was a learning experience . . . I had an opportunity to work with characters and plotlines I never had a chance to with Sailor Moon.
By the time I finished War of Dreams, I came to a decision. I'd fulfilled my ultimate dream in this continuity, rewriting SuperS. I had no great idea to do a Sailorstars series - the way that War of Dreams ended assured that Sailorstars definitely would not be able to take place in my continuity the way it did in canon. And I had the desire to stretch my wings even more, to take on more continuities, maybe even try some original work.
As a result, I came to the decision that I would place my Sailor Moon career on indefinite hiatus. It was a decision I made with mixed emotions. These characters will always have a special place in my heart. It was because of them that I got into anime fandom and got into writing. It was them who led me to meet so many wonderful friends, and to find a place in a true community of like-minded people.
But, I also knew that I couldn't be constrained by being associated with one continuity anymore. It was, in a way of speaking, time for the bird to leave the nest. And so, when I wrote the final words of the last part of War of Dreams, I closed out a chapter of my writing career as well.
When I look back at my Sailor Moon career, I see some stories that came out very well, and others that weren't so great. I see a long learning process, figuring out how to write via "on-the-job training." But most of all, I see the great time I had working on these stories. And fun is supposed to be what fanfiction is all about, isn't it?