So, I’ve been out of this anime-blogging thing for a while. Obviously, I should herald my return by doing something highly topical, like a proper academic-type analysis of the soon-to-be-concluded Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt– well, actually I’m probably never doing that, but if any of you decide to, by all means send me the link; that sounds promising (and probably, no longer strictly legal in Tokyo.) Alternately, I could ponder the deeper meaning of Ika Musume; can the squid truly invade us, if the squid is so adorable that we want to be invaded by the squid? Aren’t we, at that point, a world of dedicated squid-enablers?
But no, I laugh in the face of concepts like “topical”, and instead will compare the main character of a low-budget British TV show only partially known to otakudom at large, with the heroine of an anime that has now been off the air for thirteen years. Seriously, ever since I realized that a lot of the same tropes applied to both the Doctor and Sailor Moon, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head, and if I’m NOT going to care about being topical, I suppose it’s as good a place to start as ever.
Hell, all you need to do is put the Doctor in a skirt and he is Sailor Moon (insert your own Scottish kilts joke, I have enough to do here), and in case you’re not immediately convinced, here are my top ten reasons why the two are practically the same person. Keep in mind, these are only the TOP ten; I didn’t even have room for Cute Daughters that Are Nevertheless Deeply Wrong, Skydive First-Think Later, and several other more meta observations best left unsaid…well, better left unsaid just because I don’t want Eleventh Doctor fans too mad at me.
1. The Whole Damn Universe Revolves Around Them
He’s just so important, he can’t go anywhere without a massive source of light emanating behind him. Seriously, what is that? There’s this mysterious field of light behind him in every single DW promo image.
True, on television the character who lends their name to the title does tend to be important as a general rule, but this is just ridiculous. Both characters are the most important person in their respective universes by a ridiculously wide margin, which wouldn’t even be so bad if we weren’t constantly being hit over the head with it.
I mean, is it not enough that Sailor Moon was the Princess of the Silver Millenium? Does she really have to be the prophesied Messiah as well? And I thought “The Oncoming Storm” was a fitting sobriquet for the Daleks to give the Doctor, but then they started adding “Destroyer of Worlds” and stuff, and it just started getting silly.* Actually, it was always silly, but it crossed a certain threshold of acceptable silliness.
Let me put this another way: I’m cool with the fact that the two characters basically stand in for God in what would otherwise be godless universes (it’s part of the charm), but I could do without the big neon sign that says “Look, it’s our idealized version of God!” The Doctor is a particularly bad offender in this category; at least Sailor Moon only has unspoken dominion over the solar system, not the entire universe/multiverse.**
*Seriously, Series Four of DW makes SO MUCH MORE sense if you just assume the Doctor’s name is Yahweh.
**I just remembered Sailor Cosmos…fuck. Well, I guess they’re even more alike than I thought.
2. If it’s Wednesday, I Must Be Psychic!
Either both characters can’t be bothered to remember what superpowers they have at any given moment, or their abilities really are only available on alternate Tuesdays or something. Can Sailor Moon fly? Well, sometimes she can when she has wings, but not always.
Can the Doctor read minds? Apparently, but for some reason, he never remembers that he can do that when it’s time to solve a murder mystery. Instead, he prefers to let multiple people die and figure out who the murderer is by process of elimination. Oh, and come to think of it, Sailor Moon can do the whole Professor Xavier thing too, but only when she’s possessing the body of her past self from the future, or whatever was going on at the end of Sailor Moon R.
As frustrating as this is for me from a continuity standpoint, it’s gotta be extra annoying to the kids these shows are supposedly targeted at- can you imagine? “Who’s your favorite superhero?” “Sailor Moon!” “Cool, can she fly?”, “….sort of?”
3. I Liked You So Much Better in the Future
Both characters are constantly being told how much smarter/better/more awesome future versions of themselves are; Sailor Moon hears it from her future daughter, and the Doctor hears it from his future wife, River Song. I’m going to keep assuming River Song is his wife until they do that inevitable “Gotcha! You didn’t see THAT one coming!” story where it turns out she’s actually the love child of Amy Pond and the heart of the TARDIS or some such bullshit.
Now, in Chibiusa’s defense, she’s a kid; we would probably all be a little non-plussed if confronted with the ditzy tween-aged version of our own mothers. But what’s River’s excuse? All she does to the Tenth Doctor is tell him what a disappointment he is compared to his future self, and I would totally know what she was like with the Eleventh Doctor if a powerful sense of not-caring didn’t stop me from zoning out during half of Series Five.
4. I Get By With (So Little) Help From My Friends
Wow, that’s a lot of people! Quick, divide the number of characters by everyone who has ever done anything useful that Sailor Moon couldn’t have done herself; I’ll wait. I hope you remember your fractions….
Both are surrounded by huge teams of people who are unfailingly attractive and charismatic, and even try to be helpful, but are usually pretty damned useless when push comes to shove. Really, what do the other Sailor Senshi really accomplish after about the second season of Sailor Moon? What has any companion ever accomplished on Doctor Who, other than keeping the Doctor from going insane with boredom?
Well, actually after The Waters of Mars we know that the Doctor needs his buddies around to keep him from giving into total megalomania, so the whole idea of there being a sentient warm body around him is valid and all, but individually, they’re all still pretty useless.
There are exceptions to every rule: Sailor Moon has Sailor Saturn, who can destroy the world if she feels like it- always a good trump card to have- and the Doctor has Donna, who is just general-purpose awesome. And Amy, who occasionally experiences flashes of Highly Scripted Insight, which I guess still counts for something even if it makes me groan.
5. In the Name of the TARDIS Love Justice Blah Blah Blah
Both tend to stand around making highly impractical speeches and expect all opponents/monsters/etc. present to stand at attention and listen to them. In both cases, I think the opponents/monsters/etc. only listen because they simply cannot believe the amount of sheer chutzpah on display.
Sailor Moon has the same basic thing that she says, with minor variations; the Doctor uses a larger variety of bigger words, all the while basically saying the same thing: “I’m the Doctor, and you’re going to listen to me because if you don’t, I’ll SCIENCE! up a super-ray to destroy you, which doesn’t count as using a weapon because I had to make it out of toothpicks and spit.”
Speaking of which….
6. Eat My Pacifism
Both characters are so horrified by the thought of even one person dying, they will allow for the deaths of millions of people to stop the unbelievably horrible thing of even one person dying. Sailor Moon was willing to risk the entire world dying for the sake of Hotaru, since she simply couldn’t believe that one little girl could have to die for the sake of the universe, and the Doctor routinely causes the deaths of tons of people due to his refusal to not carry any weapons, because life is just so precious. Never mind that his buddies often decide to turn themselves into human bombs for lack of other options.
Admittedly, Sailor Moon hasn’t committed xenocide (that we know of…although that Neo-Queen Serenity always did strike me as a take-no-prisoners type), so the level of hypocrisy is not quite the same order of magnitude, but it’s definitely there. In all seriousness, part of my problem with post-Journey’s End Doctor Who is that they really haven’t dealt with all the issues they raised about the Doctor’s Pacifism-that-isn’t: They’ve exposed it all as a convenient fiction, and now we’re supposed to watch while he makes his “I don’t use weapons” speeches like we don’t know?
7. Oral Consumptive Tendencies
On a lighter note, both characters have an odd habit of continually shoving things into their mouths- Sailor Moon because she’s a glutton, and the doctor because he’s always using his taste buds as tools for scientific analysis. The reasons may differ, the visual effect is much the same.
8. Snazzy Transformation Sequence
Transformation sequences get increasingly complex (and well-animated!) with each successive form in both cases; Sailor Moon’s are more visually appealing, involving figure skating moves, but the Doctor’s transformations have been known to light things on fire, which is much cooler. Of course, adding a few layback spins to the transformation sequence from Ten (David Tennant) to Eleven (Matt Smith) is quite possibly the only thing that could have made The End of Time even gayer, and I mean that in the best possible way.***
Of course, there are differences- Sailor Moon transforms constantly, whereas the Doctor only transforms whenever the lead actor gets a yen to perform Shakespeare and star in every three-hankie drama featuring Scottish folk with cute accents the BBC can crank out, but now that they’ve gotten rid of the limit on his “allowed” regenerations, that may change. Furthermore, Sailor Moon transformations have partial nudity- although if you include the “transformation” of a severed hand into MetaCrisis Doctor (who formed quite noticeably without pants of any kind!) this requirement is met as well.
***Considering the fact that all the homo-eroticism was the main thing that story had going for it.
9. Magic Wands are Magic
Both use wands (and if you don’t think the sonic screwdriver is a magic wand, I really don’t know how else to describe it), except while Sailor Moon’s wands are only useful for specific things in specific contexts, the Doctor’s wand can pretty much do anything the writers need it to do at any given moment, making it even more magical. Needless to say, both get periodic upgrades, which generally involve getting bigger.
10. I Feel a New Me Coming On
As far as different incarnations/forms go, Sailor Moon has Usagi, Prism, Crystal Cosmic, Super Sailor Moon, Eternal Sailor Moon, Princess Serenity, Neo-Queen Serenity, and…I think there are more, but let’s leave it at that. The Doctor has incarnations 1-11, as well as MetaCrisis Doctor (also known as Hand! Doctor), DoctorDonna, the Valeyard, the Dream Lord, and probably many more I would know about if I’d watched more of the really bad classic series episodes that just exist to make the new series look better.
Of course, you can make the argument that the Doctor’s incarnations have different personalities and mannerisms, while most of Sailor Moon’s forms are all basically the same thing with a fresh coat of paint. But so what? How much more evidence that these two characters are two peas in the proverbial pod do you need, exactly?
Next time: something at least somewhat more topical. It would kind of have to be.