Sera Myu – No Such Thing as Too Shiny!
Musicals have always been a little on the cheesy side, requiring a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief. When you have a musical based on an anime, you know things are going to get even cheesier…
I’d never heard of Sera Myu before 2007, which is a shame because I might have been able to get my sticky little fingers on some merchandise. Nonetheless, in 2007 I was introduced to what would swiftly become another one of Minxie’s cosplay obsessions: Sera Myu, also known as the Sailor Moon musicals. Though they have recently been rekindled and redesigned, this article will focus on my obsession with the original shows.
Started in 1993, the Sera Myu shows ran until 2005, and starred a number of different actresses in the titular role of Sailor Moon. Ooyama Anza began the role in 1993 in the musical Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen, and continued as Sailor Moon until 1998 when the role was taken by Haru Fumina. She premièred in Shin Densetsu Kourin in 1998. Fumina was followed by one of my favourites, Kanbe Miyuki. She held the role from 2000 until 2001 when Kuroki Marina took the role and premiered in Tanjou! Ankoku no Princess Black Lady until the shows closed in 2005.
Noteable appearances in the Sera Myu shows include Chieko Kawabe as Sailor Mercury, during Marina’s reign as Sailor Moon. Chieko Kawabe played the role of Naru Osaka in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, which must have been somewhat nerve-wracking for poor Rika Izumi who was playing Sailor Mercury in the show.
The musicals tended to follow plot arcs from the manga, including the Black Moon saga, Sailor Stars, and StarS. They also had a number of original plots, including (Vampiruu and Loof Mellow).
The costumes were made brighter and more vivid, ostensibly so that those further back in the audience could easier recognise their favourite Sailor Senshi. Initially, the props were sized-up, but luckily that trend did not last past Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen as, honestly, it looked a little ridiculous.
The costumes themselves remained much the same, with two-tier skirts and sparkly trim on every available edge. The colours for each senshi matched their anime counterpart, with a contrasting colour for highlight. Unlike the anime, wherein each senshi has a power-up and costume upgrade, in the Myus only Sailor Moon herself has a costume upgrade, from regular, to Super, to Eternal.
Though the casting of Usagi/Sailor Moon changed with regular frequency, and many of the other senshi’s actresses changed reasonably regularly, there were members of chorus or minor characters that continued to pop up show after show.
One such performer was Ono Hikari, who played 6 roles throughout 14 shows. Within the fandom she is most fondly remembered as the obsessive Black Moon Prince Demand, but also as Kou Taiki of the Sailor Starlights. Her androgynous good looks, and talented performances have kept her a firm favourite. In addition to Prince Demand and Kou Taiki, Hikari took the roles of Loof Merrow, Vampiiru, Hawkeye and Vampiruu, and played each with a tonne of energy.
There were many sad faces when Shin Kaguya Shima Densetsu Kaiteiban was announced as the last musical, even though an anniversary performance had not long since been shown. Fans were dismayed that they would be without their ridiculously over-sparkly outfits and J-Pop-like songs.
Luckily, after an interminable wait, with the release of Sailor Moon Crystal, the Sera Myu shows have returned. Redesigned, recast, and rebooted as much as the anime has been, opening with La Reconquista and soon to be followed by Petit Etranger, perhaps this could be said to be the year of Sailor Moon?
Images from Sera Myu Antics, used with permission.