Sailor Jupiter's Importance
When I was growing up, I never knew about the cultural phenomenon that is Sailor Moon. I think that the first time I even heard about the show must have been well into high school, and I didn't quite understand the premise so I payed no mind to it then, labeling it as a kids' show and then kicking back to watch Degrassi, "real entertainment."
My younger sister eventually got into the manga of the franchise about three years ago, and I began to see little relics of the show pop up in our house. An action figure, a lanyard and what seemed to be a mountain of books were suddenly in her room. What drew me to them was definitely the color scheme of everything. Each book or figurine was drenched in pastels and pinks, with an undeniably feminine aesthetic that was so unique to this specific series. I still didn't watch an episode or explore one of the books.
During this month, I've had my eye out for any signs of a TSC (tall, strong, chunky) character that I might have missed in my childhood. Sometimes, I'll just Google "plus-size children's characters" or "tall women kids shows," but I usually find nothing. Interestingly, I found out about Sailor Jupiter while watching a Youtube video of a makeup haul from a Sailor Moon collection. The Youtuber said, "I love Sailor Jupiter because I love tall women," and I practically threw my laptop in excitement, but instead chose to research this character.
I now love Sailor Jupiter and her daytime alias, Mako. Frankly, if Makoto Kino punched me in the face, I'd thank her. Let's go over some details about her. First of all, she's over a head taller than all of the other Sailor Soldiers, who are all in middle school (a historically self-conscious time). She's also incredibly strong and muscular, rumored to have been kicked out of her previous school for getting into fights. Her first appearance in the series is her kicking the butts of some men who were bullying Usagi (Sailor Moon). As Sailor Jupiter, her powers are Electrokinesis, martial arts, longevity, and "emphasized superhuman strength," which is most likely linked to her natural strength in her civilian form. Sailor Jupiter has the most beautiful costume, in my humble opinion, as she wears dark green and pink with green lace-up boots.
I was instantly in love with this character because she was listed as a main protagonist, she had amazing powers and, of course, she was stronger than most men around her (even without her powers) and she was so tall that it was part of the plot in several episodes. Because of this, I decided to watch four episodes of this show in a day. I began with the pilot, but then watched exclusively episodes that revolved around Mako/Jupiter.
I found myself crying while watching some of these episodes. Part of it was because I felt deprived of a tall hero that I could have had growing up, but the main part was due to how authentically they talked about Mako and her size in relation to her insecurities on screen. I made notes of every line that I heard that made me feel validated, and they go as follows.
In her introductory episode, Mako sits down with a boy at a booth in a restaurant. She'd been following him, asking him about video games and trying to do her version of flirting. He finally caves and asks her to come in and sit with him, but he's reluctant. Mako goes to order food. She first orders "a large curry rice," but quickly changes her order to "tea with milk" upon realizing with who she's in company. It was this little need to attempt to feel smaller...daintier, even, that made me feel heard. I had done that so many times when I was with new aquaintances. I'd ordered what I thought would be better for them to see me eat rather than what I wanted to eat, fearing that what I wanted to eat might be seen as a reasoning to my size or my grossness.
This episode continued to validate more and more insecurities of mine. Just minutes later, the boy she was sitting with says, "Giant girls like her really aren't my type," as he tells Sailor Moon/Usagi why he's leaving Mako to fight for herself against a literal monster. Upon hearing it, we already feel a sting for Mako, who is having her worth and attractiveness demolished by her size. It hurts most when Mako says, "That's the second time a guy that I like said that about me." She looks crestfallen. Every tall or big girl has been there.
She's told that she's "interesting" a lot. She's called Bigfoot. In one episode, she proves her talents in ice skating as she keeps up with an olympic gold medalist. He goes to lift her and she immediately apologizes, saying, "Sorry I'm so heavy. Let me try!" She then proceeds to lift a full grown man over her head (without her Sailor Jupiter powers even being activated). Sailor Mercury remarks that this was the first time any female had successfully done that. The moment began with insecurity about her size, but then she gained applause by using her insecurity to break barriers.
Though Mako might be labeled as solely masculine due to her undeniable strength and size, she is very, very feminine (portrayed as simultaneously the most masculine and feminine of the Sailor Soldiers). She always accessorizes with pink rose earrings and one of her dreams revolves around wearing a fancy dress and dancing with a prince. However, Mako is a perfectly balanced character, which is why I love her the most. She loves ballet, but also basketball. Her favorite food is meatloaf, but she also loves cherry pie. Her favorite animal is a horse, but she'll kick a grown man's ass if he picks on someone. She is balanced to perfection.
Sailor Jupiter might not be able to wear the right uniform at school because they didn't have one that fit her (which is a feeling that I recall from Catholic school SO vividly), but she doesn't allow this feeling of "wrongness" to prevent her from being who she is. She flirts with everyone that she finds attractive, she exercises her strength and she answers the call to be a Sailor Soldier when it comes. She works past her insecurities to embrace who she truly is.
Of course, Sailor Jupiter isn't a true TSC because she isn't drawn as thicker, being very slender due to the anime style of the series. I almost want to declare her as one just based on this factor of animation style, because there truly aren't any characters as far as the episodes that I have seen that have been animated plus-sized or just thicker, especially among children characters. However, by labeling her a TSC, I would be making excuses for a company that very well could have drawn her even just slightly thicker than her smaller fellow Sailors. Therefore, Sailor Jupiter is a TS, since she's tall and very strong. I think she's meant to be a C, too, just judging by her relationship with food and her comments on her own "heavy" weight, but because the animation isn't there, I won't give her the official stamp out of fairness to characters who are truly TSC.
Thank you for learning about Sailor Jupiter with me. I thought that this subject was well overdue because I have covered so many plus-size character rights/wrongs through Insatiable and Eighth Grade, so it felt proper to give attention to a character who was tall AND strong AND well-written (after all, this blog is about the tall, strong AND chunky lady protagonists of entertainment). Tomorrow, I'll be looking at the Cartoon Network series We Bare Bears.