azurite: Usagi and Mamoru from the SM manga, with Serenity & Endymion in the background (sailormoon - usamamo serendymion)
[personal profile] azurite
And now for one of my favorite topics in all of fandom...romance! 'Shipping! WAFF! TAFF! Orange Crush! (Hey, waitasec...)

Yes, it's time for the 30 Days of Sailor Moon meme once more, brought to you by Sailor Failures on Tumblr.

Admittedly, it wasn't the interaction between Serena and Darien that had me hooked on "Sailor Moon," but I definitely did enjoy it. I was at that age when I knew that if a boy liked to pull your pigtails, he probably liked you. It didn't matter whether Darien was 6 years older than Serena in the anime or only 3 in the manga...everyone knows boys mature at a slower rate than girls! And then there's Serena, who seems to mature more slowly than most anyone...but she's got a big heart to make up for it, I guess?

Somehow, despite her immaturity and naivete, she still manages to win people over, even those who would otherwise think she's TOO childish and innocent to be friends with, let alone have a romantic relationship with. I think that's the case with Darien/Mamoru, too, and it definitely shows in the anime. Even if the dub butchered some things, I distinctly remember a scene toward the end of the Rainbow Crystal arc when Andrew asks Darien why he always teases Serena. Darien responds "I don't know. It's a feeling I can't quite explain." And us viewers get a laugh out of it, because we know she's Sailor Moon and he's Tuxedo Mask, and they've clearly got chemistry and who-knows-what-else going on, but neither of THEM know it about each other! It's hilarious watching that "chemistry" (forgive the pun here) bubble up and start to explode! (And that's part of the reason why I love first and second-season romance fanfics more than almost any other canon/time period. There's such possibility there! And the recs are frankly endless.)

Truth is, there aren't many other canon couples in "Sailor Moon." There's Motoki/Reika, Haruka/Michiru, and the various "deep friendships" of Hotaru/Chibiusa and one-sided relationships like Kaori/Prof. Tomoe, but the crux of the whole series is Usagi/Mamoru.

I just realized, Sailor Moon never really fell prey to the whole name-'shipping thing. There's no Moonshipping, Blondeshipping, etc. Actually, I think it'd be difficult to get Moonies (or whatever Sailor Moon fans like to call themselves these days) to agree on such a list, even if someone did try to make one.... The closest we've come are those portmanteau names, like UsaMamo. I don't know if others exist for any other characters, though! Harumi? Michiruka? Ha!

As I've gotten older, I do think that Usagi and Mamoru, while fitting the stereotype of the perfect "destined romance," do have some fun to them--their modern forms (vs. their past lives of Serenity and Endymion) are different people. Usagi was not raised the same way Serenity was, and she surely has different habits. But sadly, the canon didn't go into much detail on that front, so we're left with fandom (fanfiction, art, meta discussions, etc.) to fill the gap. Some folks have Serenity with a completely different personality, others have her be Usagi-with-a-crown or similar.

And Mamoru...well, aside from a saucy attitude that probably would have been just dandy for a Prince of Earth to have, he doesn't seem all that different, does he? I'm sure losing his parents and his memory had to traumatize him, but it's not as if we're aware he had a loving relationship with the King and Queen of Earth back in the Silver Millennium, are we?

So what's fascinating about their relationship and it working is that, while a lot of it does have to do with this "pull of destiny" (which is romantic but frankly unrealistic and not very feasible for a long-time relationship, as the breakups in the anime demonstrated...also part of the reason why the anime is my favorite form of canon, and the R arc in particular is my favorite sandbox to play in as a writer), there's also the chemistry that Usagi and Mamoru have as people. Sure, there's differences between the anime and the manga as far as maturity, age, etc. go, but the more distinct difference is that Usagi ≠ Serenity in that sense. She wants to believe in destiny and romance, but she had sparks flying with Mamoru before she knew he was Tuxedo Mask and Endymion.

I like the idea of Usagi and Mamoru having to work through more "normal" relationship issues. Usagi basically encountering "the man of her dreams" from age 14 meant that she never went through a succession of crushes (aside from "Oh, he's cute..." and never, ever going further than that, because she's USAGI, and she's as loyal as duct tape) in her teenage years to off-and-on/bad/experimental relationships in her 20s. Heck, canon seems to indicate Usagi becomes Neo-Queen Serenity at or around age 24, going by her age at the original air date and the fact that Pluto has said some kind of cataclysm befalls the Earth at the turn of the 21st century, resulting in the 1000 year sleep and Usagi becoming NQS so she can rule Crystal Tokyo and Earth alongside her husband, King Endymion, in the 30th century!

Usagi quite clearly carries her naivete with her at least until series end, when she's 16, because she doesn't seem to "get" that Seiya really, really cares about her. I personally like to think Usagi DOES know better, but she's the epitome of a non-confrontational fighter: if she can avoid conflict, she will, and if she can do so by pretending the conflict doesn't even exist, so much the better! It's a lot nicer than, say, running away from jet airplanes in tears....

Mamoru is unlike Usagi in that he's HAD these other relationships...at least in the anime and the live action, he has. He had other girlfriends before Usagi in the anime, and Hina in the live action. That he's had these other relationships and been unsatisfied until he met Usagi is probably a little befuddling for him. When he does realize the gravity of his past relationship (as Endymion) with her (as Serenity), things change a little--does he have a relationship with her because of that, or because he's attracted to Usagi/Serena, the girl who is Sailor Moon, who has friends, family, and a life outside of being Princess/Neo-Queen Serenity?

It's an interesting topic to play with (and that's probably why I keep going back to it in my fanfiction, despite ideas dealing with other characters and genfic that has nothing to do with relationships at all), and because canon is focused so wholly on Usagi's side, we don't see much past the sparkle and glamour. Despite that, Usagi x Mamoru is still my favorite canon 'ship, and even though other relationships (shock! Usagi x Motoki! Usagi x Seiya! Hell, even some yuri ships like Usagi x Minako!) have grown on me, I think Usagi x Mamoru is probably the most stable canon 'ship out there. It's the 'ship that can't be sunk! Seriously, it's survived numerous brainwashings, amnesia, and even death! You think you can sink my 'ship? I think not. :P
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