When it came to my attention that a Sailor Moon musical existed, being the lifelong fan that I am, I swiftly concluded that I had no choice but to go see it. I was fortunate enough to acquire tickets for the final performance of Sailor Moon: Petite Étrangère, which was broadcasted to movie theaters across Japan, and also streamed online. Determined to live out my childhood dreams, I donned my best space skirt and hopped on a bus to Osaka, and my inner five-year-old was not disappointed. From singing the theme song with the entire cast to high-fiving Sailor Moon herself, the nostalgia-fueled experience was nothing short of magical.
As soon as I walked into the lobby of the Umeda Arts Theater, I knew I was in good company. Virtually the entire audience was made up of women in their 20s and 30s, with the occasional male face in the crowd. I joined chattering fans in swarming the merchandise booths and the Sailor Moon capsule machines (a goldmine—those things sell out fast), and once I was satisfied with my haul, my friends and I took our seats in the first row of the balcony. A few cycles of “Moon Pride” later, the lights dimmed and the curtain rose.
Sailor Moon: Petite Étrangère is the highly-anticipated follow up to last year’s successful Sailor Moon: La Reconquista. Petite Étrangère continues its predecessor’s story by focusing on the Super R arc of the series, best known for Chibiusa (Sailor Chibi Moon), Dark Lady, and the romance between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, all told through original musical numbers that ranged from dark ballads to upbeat pop songs.
The story never seemed to stall for too long, and even though a few actresses’ vocals had some rough patches, the dance numbers were quality. Some of my favorite moments included the fight between the sailor guardians and their drones, Usagi’s reaction to the truth about Chibiusa’s origins, and Sailor Moon’s transformation when she uses the Moon Princess Scepter for the first time. Understandably, a problematic point in a live-action Sailor Moon performance would be the transformation sequences. I found the use of doubles in the production was particularly impressive, especially considering the small size of the venue. More than once I found myself fooled by doubles in the drone scenes as well as during Usagi’s final transformation—along with the rest of the audience, if the audible gasps around me served as any indication.
Certainly, the acting skill of the cast was nowhere near Broadway caliber, and the male characters’ performances (played mostly by former Takarazuka actresses) stole the show. But the relatively young actresses show a lot of potential, and in comparison to the preview videos released prior to the show’s debut, the choreography and vocals were immensely improved. Sailor Pluto (Mikako Ishii) was a personal favorite, and was easily one of the most passionate and skilled singers in the cast. Sailor Jupiter (Yuu Takahashi) is also one to watch, and of course Yuga Yamato, a former Takarazuka actress who played a fantastic Tuxedo Mask, was a fan favorite.
Merchandise sold at the venue included exclusive items such as posters, prints, clear files, a musical guide book, and a penlight that could be used during the show’s encore. Pre-orders for musical DVDs, as well as for some swanky Sailor Moon “proplicas”, were also available. In addition, attendees received an exclusive postcard upon exiting the theater, which was different for each performance. I personally plan on framing my set of sailor senshi cards and making them the proud centerpiece of my shrine of Sailor Moon goods in my apartment (don’t judge me).
Overall, the quality of Sailor Moon: Petite Étrangère—particularly costume design, choreography, and original music—exceeded my expectations. Of course, even if it hadn’t, my nostalgia meter would have been through the roof. But to have a musical so passionately capture the magic of Sailor Moon while executing its vision with skill and precision is a rare feat, and one that Petite Étrangère has delightfully accomplished.
Whether or not there will be a third Sailor Moon musical is yet to be seen, but judging by the success of the first two plays, it might not be long before we see another Sailor Moon production on the horizon. Having completed its set of shows in Tokyo and Osaka, Sailor Moon: Petite Étrangère moves on to Shanghai in January 2015. Check out some images and videos of the musical below!