The Inside Scoop on Otaku Senshi Trends 2003
An Excessively Long Analysis by Sakura, with lots of input from Lori Collins 6-15-03

As an otaku senshi request artist, I have the opportunity to meet many different types of otaku senshi. As I go through edit requests, I also have the chance to see how otaku senshi are evolving, what new ideas are taking hold - and what old ones just keep getting recycled. Below is a layout of common trends that have been appearing throughout Otaku Senshi Fandom. This is merely based on my observations as an editor and a general web browser and is not mean to target or degrade any otaku creation. If anything, they are to be used to make the otaku senshi creator aware of what's been done. Remember - these are only opinions.

Instant Manicure? Heck, I'll Take a Makeover!
Drastic appearance changes within from civilian to senshi have been on the uprise. This can be cool, but be very careful with this one. Unless it serves a purpose, symbolic or otherwise, it's like a lot of special effects in a movie with no plot. Changing up your character's appearance, especially dramatically, can become confusing! Remember, in senshi form your characters are most likely not recognizable anyway - although there are instances in the manga in which Sailor Moon, or another senshi is recognized by another character.

Oh Woe is Me: Your Senshi's Terrible Past
A second common motif with otaku senshi is dead parent(s). A lot of people will roll eyes at otaku senshi with dead parents, or senshi that are orphaned, abused, or from neglectful homes. That is because it is a very frequently seen trend in characters. It allows the creator something to go off of: strong emotion. There are, of course certain 'dead parent' stories I would advise you avoid, and those are: died in a car crash or died in a plane crash. The only reason these two options seem so taboo is because they are the deaths of Mamoru's (Darien's) and Makoto's (Lita's) parents, respectably.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with experimenting with non-angsty characters; their pasts can be interesting without being depressing. Coming from a bad childhood has a similar taboo feeling. A lot of children do, unfortunately, have to deal with those circumstances, and working it into your senshi's history can give her an element of realism. Just be careful not to take it too far, and be sure to make it be important for a reason (such as the death of her parents plays a key role in her development as a senshi).

The power of strong negative emotion can be a great driving force to change who you are, change who you want to be, and can help in developing your characters strengths - and weaknesses. So choose your senshi's parent's fate and senshi's childhood wisely, and work it into their story. There's nothing wrong with saying their parents are alive and well and they grew up with three meals a day and lots of hugs! ^^

Neo-Senshi and Children of the Original Characters
Usagi and Chibi-Usa and must be propagating like the rabbits they are named after with all these Neo-Moon-type characters! ^^; Taking into account how interesting it would be to create the lives and battle of the sailor senshi's future daughter's, I must say it is becoming a bit over used.

None the less, if it's what you want to do, I still say go for it! But look around first, see what's been done and try not to mirror it. Also seeing a surge in the use of Mirai-Senshi, which was kinda neat when I first saw it, but has been copied again and again to become all together over used. Making up a new generation of senshi will be a challege no matter what because you are going to face certain constraints, but try to not limit yourself to ideas that have been recycled over and over.

Come to the Dark Side
Evil senshi are certainly springing up all over! A friend of mine and I got in to a discussion about this once, and we decided that people had been making up allies to Sailor Moon for so long, they decided that making up enemies might be a bit more fun!

The crux? Sailor senshi can't really be inherently evil - they must be possesed by something, currupted, brainwashed. With the exception of possibly Sailor Chaos (whom we only see a hazy image of in the memories of Sailor Cosmos in the last manga book) there are no senshi in the Sailor Moon universe that are purely evil. Of course, you can say that doesn't mean there can't be, I'm just saying you are facing opposition to the whole idea that sailor senshi are supposed to embody: the purity of light and life, love and justice.

Making an evil senshi can be fun! I know, I have one! And there's nothing that says she has to 'be healed' or learn her lesson, but generally speaking, there should be some sort of element in her history or story that explains, and for a good reason, why she's not on the side of light.

Hello! My Name is Kokushibiyouku Wakinaatshionu!
Naming your character can be hard, especially if you want to give the name meaning, which you should. A lot of otaku senshi creators want their senshi to have a Japanese name. That's fine a good, but consider this: is your senshi from Japan? For example, my otaku senshi has a Japanese name, but she was born on another planet. It would make more sense for her NOT to have a Japanese name, and to have something of some alien context. Unfortunately, my character is more or less set in stone - I might have changed almost everything else about her, but a name is something one can't often change after having a character for over five years.

But if you are starting new, give it some thought. Senshi of other nationalities should have names of those nationalities. As far as senshi from other galaxies or planets? Have a good time with their names! Look up some mythology, research the meaning of ancient empire names, go wild, make something up; it's your world to create. If you do have a Japanese otaku senshi then by all means, give her a Japanese name; but please, please make it believable and sensible- no one has the name Kokushibiyouku Wakinaatshionu. Really...

Color Me Pretty: What To Do When Choosing Fuku Colors
A problem most otaku senshi creators loathe over is what to do about the colors of their senshi's outfit. This can be a real hanger; deciding on the colors of your senshi means choosing just what her first impression will make. And I have seen some pretty bad first impressions. ;.;

My advice? First of all, when choosing your colors, consider, and I stress consider your senshi's powers. As far as I'm concerned this is not as defining a crutch as people seem to make it out to be. The powers of your senshi are definitely something to think about when choosing colors, but possibly more important are the meanings of the colors. Whether through online research or at your local library, if you can take a bit of time to look into what colors mean, you might be surprised at what you can find! Taking time to look into colors can be really helpful in developing your characters powers and personality.

Of course just because you find a few colors you like, doesn't mean they go well together. If you don't have an artistic eye, ask around to see what others think. Neon green, navy blue, and periwinkle might be your three favorite colors, but they might not make the best outfit. ;.; Want to avoid some popular color combos? Well, good luck cause there's tons of otaku senshi - but here's a list of some color combos that I see most frequently:

* Yellow, Orange, and Red (especially with Sailor Sun's; don't you know stars can be lots of other colors too?)
* Black and Purple (Trust me, my senshi's black and purple and I see it very often with edits)
* Black and Red (Often too typically used for senshi-gone-bad, also very often seen in edits)
* Violet or Purple and Teal or Blue (Purples and Blues are generally people's favorite colors, and they look pretty nice together so they are often chosen)
* Dual, or Triple shades of blue (I think a lot of people just like blue...)

Alterations To the Basic Fuku
One general goal of most otaku senshi creators is to make their senshi original - and one good way to make your character stand out it to alter the basic Sailor Senshi fuku by adding, taking away, or changing things. The original senshi themselves have some small differences: Pluto doesn't have shoulder pads, Saturn shows up with a really cool brooch, and Sailor Moon, well, her fuku is unique for a reason. ^^;; You can change elements of the outfit for fun, to make distinction, or to be symbolic (which is always a plus).

Of course there are practically limitless boundaries to what a sailor senshi can be wearing! Naoko herself tried everything from leather to metal and somehow managed to get most of them in mini skirts and heels! So there are many roads you can take when decided what to dress your senshi in.

Sometimes people may alter the fuku just because they think it looks cool. There are a few trends of fuku alterations that have become more and more apparent lately. I have been noticing a surge in fingerless gloves - now I'm not sure if people have reasons for this or if they just adore the look, but it has become pretty popular to let your senshi sport some naked fingers. Maybe people want to show off their new manicures, ne? ^^

Also popular is the idea of having a skirt that has it's bottom half lined with flames. I have seen this on quite a few otaku senshi edits, and my only beef with this is, if you senshi doesn't have a fire element, it probably shouldn't be there. Making your senshi's outfit go along with powers is a cool idea, just make sure they are her powers.

Changing tiara and tiara jewel colors or shapes can be a nice way of showing of some special trait of your senshi, but try to have some meaning to it. I have noticed a trend of dropping the tiara all together for some sort of symbol or other decorative mark. These are effective ways of making your senshi stand out, but beware! Such marks usually symbolize some kind of superiority so your senshi better be able to back it up! ^_^

Frequently making appearances are multi layered skirts: they aren't for eternal forms anymore! This is all fun and good, just don't get carried away - I once had an edit with a NINE LAYERED skirt. Unless you have a damn good reason, I really think three is puffy enough. ;.;

I love seeing new and interesting brooch shapes, and lately I really have been! Circles, hearts, and stars are fine, but I've seen senshi with music notes, rainbows, and even a dolphin! Keep doing that, Sakura says creative brooches are a cool trend! *wink*

Bodysuits are a story on their own (as you will read), but I will mention here the amount of nonwhite body suits I have been seeing lately. As far as that goes, I'm all for it, as long as it's not black. As far as I can tell, the only color that is overly used is black; and plus, it's so hard to dimensionalize in an edit without making it look grey. *tear*

Fukus: Is It Hot in Here?
Two-piece bodysuits are becoming very popular with otaku senshi, I've noticed. Maybe it's the Starlights: those flashy leather numbers are really sexy; maybe it's the Brittany Spears era: egging on our minds to think beautiful, powerful women should be as close to naked as possible; or maybe it's just plain trendy.

My big beef with two-piece fuku's is the lack of practicality. Now, I know, I know, the Starlights do it... but just picture this: your senshi is in battle, right? She's got her pretty suited mini skirt on with her bow studded tube top when all of a sudden she does a quick move and OOPS! her skirt gets snagged on something and she's finds herself standing there with her skirt around her ankles! Silly? Perhaps.

Or better yet, how can MORE exposed skin be helpful? Most sailor soldiers are already wearing practically nothing in a sailor senshi fuku, so exposing the skin on her stomach and lower back would probably just increase your chance of injury there, right? Sure that thin layer of fabric might be THIN but it's THERE isn't it? I think I will make a bullet proof, fire proof, wind resistant, and water proof sailor body suit for my next otaku senshi - you can put your in a bikini!

Bad Hair Day?
Taking about hair colors, the trend lately has been to go with the outfit. There have been a good amount of senshi that have had hair colors that could blend right into their regular battle garments, and I, on a whole approve the idea. From Chibi-usa right up to Galaxia, Naoko distinguished her characters with some interesting hair colors, and often it was symbolic or used to make the character's more recognizable, so don't be afraid to try a little color. On the other hand, going natural is always an option, though I have found people like to throw a little pizzazz in their natural haircolored senshi by adding streaks of color or tips.

Trying to decide on how to style your senshi's hair can be a tough choice. You can do what I did and just color in a picture of Sailor Mars and just say, 'Yup, that's her hair,' or you can take some time to surf some style pages, or flip through a magazine to get some better, more creative ideas. I recommend the latter. Giving your sailor senshi a specific hairstyle will be helpful in identifying her against senshi that may have similar names or colors. It is also a good way to refine her personality some more - i.e., a girl with a simple nape-of-the-neck bun might be quiet and calm while a senshi with a mohawk might be a bit more wild! ^____^

Of course the one style to be wary of is odangos ('meatballs'). This is, of course, because our heroines of the BSSM world are the only one's that seem to have the privilege of this hairstyle. Of course there is nothing that says your senshi can't do the do, it's just that in shoujo anime, it's generally the main magical girl that has something different in her hair. Just look at Wedding peach or Utena. Same thing goes for Odangos - these cute lil buns should most often be reserved for leaders and focal point characters. And if you do decide on odangos, there's nothing that says they have to be round, and there's nothing that says they have to have five foot long pigtails coming off the back of them. ^^;;

Trends of the Future
So what will become otaku senshi trends of the future? Well, who's to say really. But I think I will make a few predictions, just for fun!

I think weaponry is going to make a strong resurgence into the otaku senshi world. I think more and more people are going to equip their senshi with something to hold on to, swing around, or otherwise look cool holding. Why? It's helpful in developing powers, they can be very creative (which I highly recommend), and they look great in images. Be creative with your weapons though! I've seen enough scythes and glaives to last a few millennia.

Another trend I think we will see is in increase in the use of tatoos or special markings on otaku senshi. Since body art is becoming more and more popular with the youth of today, there is no doubt this will carry over into our character creations. I have already seen a few novel trend setters taking the road of body art with their characters, and as long as it serves a purpose, I think adding this kind of element to a senshi can be a great artistic expression!

Clothing styles are going to change. I'm seeing hint of it already. People want to get away from the regular miniskirts and heels! They want to have more versatile clothing, more interesting, and more akin to their character. With the popularity of more and more anime and games like Final Fantasy in the States, people here are getting more access to a wider array of battle garments, and they will undoubtedly be influenced. I look forward to seeing these otaku senshi of a new style.

Questions? Comments? E-mail Sakura: