Otaku Senshi Controversies
By Sakura September 2006
In the community of Otaku Senshi creators there are various topics that often come under debate in reference to the correct way in which one makes a fan sailor senshi. Fans will debate these issues, cite various points of reference in canon, and draw from their own opinion to form standpoints on these topics.
The Sailor Collar Controversy
In her creation of the outfits for her soldiers, Naoko Takeuchi used a design that was very similar to the school girl uniforms worn in Japan. Her design included a cape, or collar that extended from the collarbone area, over the shoulder to hang straight across in the back. Often, but not always, this collar would be adorned with one to three white pin stripes near the outer edge. Takeuchi placed this element on every character with a "Sailor" name, including the 'fake' Sailor Senshi - the Sailor Anima-mates - from the StarS season.
Some fans in the community feel that the Sailor Collar is an essential part of any otaku senshi design and that without it the character cannot truly be a Sailor Senshi. They cite not only Takeuchi's consistent use in the element but also the history of the school uniforms, or sailor fuku, in Japan that at some points in history have traditionally included the collar element. (1) Additionally, those in favor of the Sailor Collar will point to various canon characters that carry Sailor Crystals but do not have a Sailor Collar such as Tuxedo Mask and Deimos and Phobos. These characters have Sailor Crystals that give them power, but because they do not have collars, supporters see it as a further indication that the title of Sailor Senshi must go hand in hand with the collar element. These characters, without 'Sailor' in their names, are not considered to be Sailor Senshi by these supporters, though some will refer to them with the title 'Senshi' alone. This is in line with comments from Takeuchi in which she has stated in an interview that only women are Sailor Senshi. (2) This point of view indicates a belief that an author's comments are equivalent to canon.
Opponents of the 'collar rule' have a few counterpoints. What makes a Sailor Senshi have their power is their Sailor Crystal. Those against the 'collar rule' often cite this as the only real necessity to make a character Sailor Senshi because it is clearly stated in canon that Sailor Senshi carry Sailor Crystals. (3) Some of those who oppose the 'collar rule' believe that Tuxedo Mask is a Sailor Senshi because he has a Sailor Crystal, thus making the argument that his status affects the lack of collar void to them. Another point of view suggests that just because Takeuchi put collars on all the characters with "Sailor" in their name, it does not mean that it is a rule, per se, without it being actually stated in canon. For some fans, Takeuchi saying all Sailor Senshi are women in and interview does not count as evidence because they do not believe that author's comments are part of canon. In regards to the school uniform reference, opponents to the 'collar rule' may also cite that not all school uniforms, or seifuku, include the collar and have vests or jackets instead. (4)
The true crutch of the controversy occurs in the creation of otaku senshi. Because of the belief that collars are absolutely needed in the design for any Sailor Senshi, proponents of the collar issue will not regard collar-less senshi as Sailor Senshi. Occasionally, this will lead to conflicts or arguments on the subject of what defines a Sailor Senshi and the debate on the previously stated points will recycle.
Some moderate views on the subject suggest that whether or not you believe Takeuchi's senshi are required to have Sailor Collars, those opinions do not define what fan characters should look like because as fandom, it does not need to abide by any 'rules.' This in turn, can also lead to conflicts with 'canon purists' that would like to see limited or no divergence from the original story in fandom.
Male Sailor Senshi
Along similar lines as the collar issue, a hotly debated topic in the otaku senshi community is the debate over whether or not men can be Sailor Senshi. Sailor Collar Controversy is intertwined with this debate because of the questionable status of character like Tuxedo Mask.
As stated in the collar controversy discussion, Tuxedo Mask carries a Sailor Crystal. His powers represent the Earth and Takeuchi has stated, in response to questions about the lack of a Sailor Earth, that he takes the place of Sailor Earth. (2) Additionally, because Naoko has been quoted saying the Sailor Senshi are only girls, many fans believe that in turn, fan senshi should only be girls. Once again, that depends on if one believe that an author's statements are equivalent to canon.
In the original manga story, the Sailor Starlights were females that disguised themselves as men to gain popularity as idols. In the animated version of the final season, the Sailor Starlights were animated in male bodies while not transformed into Sailor Senshi. They 'became' female when they transformed, as shown in their transformation sequence. This, incidently, upset Takeuchi who, when asked about the change stated she "wasn't very happy about it." (3) While many understand this change in the anime to be a disguise for the Starlights, some argue that it opens a path for male senshi. As with the collar issue, some fans also feel that the issue of if men can be Sailor Senshi in canon does not directly effect how Otaku Senshi should be created in regards to flexibility in Fandom.
(3) Stars 4
Questions? Comments? Sakura@sailorastera.com