Distinguishing characters through fashion: how Sailor Moon does it right.
OKAY, so I was wondering whether I could find some place that posted Sailor Moon screencaps or turnaround sheets so I could write about how it handles fashion, and it turns out there’s a website for exactly that. Tagged by character and everything. Perfect.
So let’s continue our discussion about fashion as character design! Here’s a narrative that has to balance a large, female-heavy cast and make sure they are identifiable at all times, especially since they aren’t in their trademark color-coded uniforms most of the time. How does Sailor Moon tackle fashion and make it work in service of their characters?
What’s particularly impressive is that the superheroes’ civilian clothes aren’t limited to a single color, the way you might see in, say, Power Rangers. (Could you imagine wearing yellow outfits every day for the rest of your life just because you’re the Yellow Ranger? Blugh.) Instead, Sailor Scouts are recognizable in their civilian clothes because each one has a distinct silhouette, style, and palette.
Sailor Moon’s civilian wear, for example, is overly childish and girly. She wears ribbons, bows, and overalls. Her clothes have cartoon mascots on them, particularly bunnies (a pun on her Japanese name, Usagi, which means “rabbit.”)They match her ditzy, immature personality.
Mercury’s modest skirts and pastel cardigans match her quiet, straight-laced character, while Mars wears shorter, sleeker, more ladylike outfits that reflects her more sassy (and bossy) personality. Venus is all about bright colors and loose, sporty dresses ‘cause she’s got such a peppy, can-do attitude.
Jupiter is easy to distinguish from the others just by being taller and more physically imposing. I love the way they handle Jupiter’s style because she’s portrayed as a gentle, feminine girl who is still undeniably “the muscle” of the group. Her clothes are girly (frills! pencil skirts!) but they’re cut to accentuate her fuller figure and keep her looking large and powerful. I love that.
A lot of the characters’ fashions work well in pairs to contrast and work off of each other. Mini-Moon’s pink, blue, and candy-stripe-red palette doesn’t pop quite so much until she’s juxtaposed with her friend Hotaru, who dresses in black and dull monochromes. What’s more, as their friendship grows, you can see Hotaru start accenting her dark outfits with a single bright color.
And, of course, Uranus and Neptune’s amazing butch/femme combo.
Look at those classy broads.
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