Most helpful critical review
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Allow me to disagree with the majority of reviewers
on January 13, 2008
"Warriors of Legend" is an unbalanced, incoherent attempt to describe how Sailor Moon comments on Japanese society. Space is wasted, there is little organization, and the conclusion does not naturally follow from the information presented. Though it is a valiant analytical attempt (from what I understand, the first of its kind regarding this particular series), it falls short in many places. One hopes that future analysis will use a more balanced, organized, intellectual approach.
According to the back flap, "Warriors of Legend" purports to be an intellectual view of "Japanese society through the lens of Sailor Moon." Authored by a masters degree holder in Regional Eastern Asian studies, as well as a doctor in political science, the reader is given the impression that there is a good deal of analysis of the societal impact of Sailor Moon.
Unfortunately, there is very little actual analysis in this book. Following a 20 page summary of the characters and story (completely irrelevant to fans of the series), 42 pages are devoted to "exploring the Sailor Moon Universe." We are given a tour, essentially, of all the sites in the Minato district of Tokyo where this series is based. Time and time again, the authors make the point that Naoko Takeuchi set the story in the world she lived in. Young Japanese fans of the show could identify directly with the background they saw, "building the notion that the sailor soldiers could have easily walked alongside them in their travels through Tokyo." This is an interesting and valid point, but is made tediously, time and time again, for a third of the book. This book, at times, reads more like a tour guide for fans of the series than an actual scientific analysis.
The rest of the book is a potpourri of underdeveloped analytical points, none of which flow well together. The structure of Sailor Moon families is addressed briefly, after which the text rushes immediately into the cultural aspects of the show. There is a section on the poetics employed by Sailor Moon before fighting takes place, one on how expensive Mamoru Chiba's lifestyle (in the anime) is in Japan, one on education, religion and so on. All of this is interspersed with seemingly random specific commentary on each of the Sailor Senshi. None of these points is adequately developed (the longest being the section on poetics, which doesn't run 10 pages), and there seems to be no cohesion at all, no gradual progressing toward a broad, general point.
The conclusion is equally flawed. A good deal of the conclusion describes how Japanese children were shocked to see their characters die at the end of the first anime season of Sailor Moon. This is an interesting point, but probably would have fit the introduction better than the conclusion, and is entirely undeveloped besides the "Japanese children viewed the characters as their friends" idea. Nothing, not even a reference, is made to the underdeveloped ideas presented earlier in the book. The reader is left wondering what the preceding 130 pages were all about.
Any future authors of an analysis of Sailor Moon would do well to focus their claims on a single argument, make sure that the argument is generalizable (i.e. can be applied to other shows, or elements of pop culture) and at least include some comparison with other elements of pop culture to give the reader proper context. Additionally, many elements of this book were utterly fantastic. Whatever relationship Sailor Venus has with the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar is still lost on me, and comparisons between Sailor Moon's jikoshoukai and those in Japanese history seem awkward, especially without mention of other anime.
Only a hardcore fan could appreciate this book, but an intellectual hardcore fan would find little more than what can already be found online.