Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon is arguably the most iconic shoujo series of all-time. Usagi Tsukino and the rest of the Sailor Scouts have enthralled fans since 1991, and the anime helped popularize the medium when it first aired on the USA Network.
Usagi’s fight for love and justice have become the hallmark of all modern shoujo works. The use of martial arts and terrestrial based powers gave Sailor Moon an action flair that pulled in non-shoujo fans who assumed the medium was just about romance.
Oh, and Takeuchi totally wanted to give Usagi a gun.
This image appeared in the Nakayoshi Deluxe 1992 New Year’s Preview magazine and Takeuchi’s commentary was: “I drew this color picture with just an image, when I hadn’t decided on the content of the story yet. She has a crescent moon mark of her forehead, and somehow everything is revealed. At first I wanted to do Sailor Moon’s tiara in a form like this. I really like it. Since the Sailor Moon color pictures started from this picture, I made it the last one in the picture collection.”
Sailor Moon went through some heavy revisions before publication and the series is actually a sequel to Codename: Sailor V. In fact, Usagi looked a lot like Minako Aino (Sailor Venus), with the only big distinction being Usagi’s silver hair and red cape.
It’s not uncommon for a manga to see changes between the prototype and publication phases. But, Takeuchi is uncommonly vocal about the changes that were made compared to other mangaka. In various interviews and manga notes, Takeuchi has said that Sailor Moon was originally going to be darker, but protests from her editor forced the tone to lighten.
Takeuchi has never been shy about talking about her resentment of being denied to kill her characters nor her disapproval of the male perspective of the anime, which diminishes the original message of the manga. It’s interesting to see how one of the biggest shoujo manga was subject to a lot of editorial changes.
Takeuchi’s early Sailor Moon notes and artwork were published in Nakayoshi magazine as bonus content, with most of them not being localized in the English volumes of Sailor Moon. You can find some of Takeuchi’s notes and interviews in a translation project at Miss Dream.