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As Sailor Moon established an international identity for Japanese animation during the prime of its broadcast in the mid-1990s, many “clones” using magical schoolgirls boomed in its native Japan.
Despite the name changes in the English version, a number of fans such as myself still felt that its original Japanese identity still resonated. In addition to mentioning the series still takes place in Tokyo, Rei (or Raye) was our introduction to Shinto and the miko, or shrine maiden, Japanese school uniforms (the sailor for girls and gakuran for boys), and Tokyo Tower. It taught us many of anime’s tropes such as the sweat drop to indicate stupidity and nervousness and much more.
Though most of the “clones” did not have the same worldwide success, each found its own respective niche audiences and offers its own distinguishing qualities to give viewers more about Japanese schoolgirl life.While Sailor Moon used outer space mythology and a super hero version to the then more traditional sailor schoolgirl uniform, other magical girl/shojo shows used other gimmicks to trail off the popularity of Sailor Moon and still be distinct.
Similar Anime to Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon/ Sailor Moon
1. Cardcaptor Sakura (Cardcaptors)
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: April 1998 – March 2000
After releasing the Clow Cards from its original sealed book, ten-year-old Kinomoto Sakura takes the responsibility of resealing the cards by learning the appropriate skills necessary to do so under the guidance of Cerberus(Kero), the guardian of the Clow Cards. Helping her is Li Shaoran, a boy from Hong Kong who wants the cards and has an initial rocky relationship with Sakura, and Tomoyo, her best friend/cousin/gadget supplier/costume designer/documenter.
Since the series came out after the end of “Sailor Moon,” its expectations of being a knock off as opposed to other shojo series that came out in the mid-90s were much more relaxed. Sakura does not do transformations and she wears a different costume for each fight all made by Tomoyo. However, it shares themes about love and friendship through both its main and secondary cast. Plus, the relation between Li and Sakura is naturally an elementary version of Usagi and Mamoru in which it starts off as uneasy, but are there for each other when it counts, and eventually profess their love.
The first theme song “Catch You, Catch Me” has a pretty catchy hook and suits the atmosphere of the series accurately well. The best addition for Sailor Moon fans is the voice of Sailor Mercury, Hisakawa Aya, as the voice of Kero-chan, who plays the “Luna” role.
Card Captor Sakura Trailer
2. Wedding Peach
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: April 1995 – March 1996
The trio of Momoko, Yuri and Hinagiku are normal junior high girls hoping to get their hands on the captain of the soccer team and enjoy a normal teenage life. However, fate and an inter-dimensional threat from the Devil World invade earth and want to spread hate. From the Angel World, a pretty man named Liome chooses the schoolgirls as the Love Angels. Momoko is the titled Wedding Peach, Yuri is Wedding Lily, and Hinagiku is Wedding Daisy, all direct translations of their names. Together they erase the hate and spread the love.
Tadano Kazuko, one of the designers from “Sailor Moon” designed the characters of “Wedding Peach”. The shape of the faces, eyes and the marks beneath the eyes, should be a strong indicator of these notable similarities. Like Usagi, Momoko can get aggressive when teased and both of their fathers are photojournalists. The progression and origin of the Love Angels are almost the same as the Sailor Guardians and its general episode formula will be familiar to “Sailor Moon” viewers. Though the main cast is introduced from the very start, each girl becomes a Love Angel in a one by one pace but a little faster with a twist which you have to see for yourself.
One of the best additions is Kotono Mitsuishi, Sailor Moon’s voice actress playing a villainous role. If you are a seiyuu or a Japanese voice actor buff such as myself, this will make the series enjoyable because they all give great performances to their characters.
Wedding Peach Trailer
3. Magic Knight Rayearth
- Episodes: 49
- Aired: October 1994 – November 1995
Hikaru, Umi and Fuu (names representing their magical abilities) all go to Tokyo Tower with their schools on a field trip and are suddenly summoned by Princess Emeraude to the distant world of Cephiro to save it. With no other way of returning home, the three young ladies become the Magic Knights and are given armor, weapons and elemental magical abilities to combat the evil forces of Zagato.
Viewers could be familiar with Tokyo Tower as it was also used in a good number of “Sailor Moon” episodes (in addition to other works by the creators of “Magic Knight Rayearth,” CLAMP). As in “Sailor Moon” when the Sailor Guardians first became a team, the Magic Knights were not familiar with each other but had to work together for the greater good. Each character has the personalities of being tomboyish, elegant, and shy. I cannot deny it is rather cliché but they perfectly balance each other out for the story as well as work as each other’s equal foil and support.
As opposed to sailor school uniforms, the Magic Knights wear the blazer-style uniform and is also part of their identity and armor for a certain period. It is fun and touching to see how far the relationships between the three girls blossom by the end of season 1. In terms of the power ups, I am sure viewers (and possibly old school RPG fans) can appreciate the pace and feel. I also strongly recommend it for its very spirited soundtrack and CLAMP’s older character design style before “Code Geass.”
Magic Knight Rayearth OP
Any Animes Like Sailor Moon / Any Animes Like Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon ?
4. Nurse Angel Ririka SOS
- Episodes: 35
- Aired: July 1995 – March 1996
On Moriya Ririka’s tenth birthday, Kanou, the new handsome boy at school, gives her a present and has earned the jealous rage of all the girls. But before she can further celebrate, the earth is being invaded by the forces of Dark Joker. Kanou then instructs Ririka to use her gift, the Angel Cap, to turn into Nurse Angel and “cure” (as in defeat) her foes while trying to keep her identity secret from her classmates, family and her best friend, Seiya.
Let's start off by mentioning that some of the catch phrases of representing “love and justice” should instantly be familiar. In addition, it has very over the top attack names such as “Angel Aide Bomb Beam” and is also abusive in the recycled animation department with glitter nude transformations and delivering the final attack. Despite that, the story has a very unique direction as it progresses and it is really fun to see a certain character have more use and development which you have to see to believe.
I think the series wanted to have something of an environmental theme like “Captain Planet” but not as directly educational about the issue. The ending theme is very cute and catchy and a must listen. Last, Akimoto Yasushi, one of the co-creators of this series would go onto establishing Japan’s biggest idol group of the 2010s, AKB48.
Nurse Angel Ririka SOS OP
5. Akazukin Chacha (Little Red Riding Hood Chacha)
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: January 1994 – June 1995
When you take a mix of Japanese and western fairy tales and making magic school cool before “Harry Potter,” you get “Akazukin Chacha.” Despite her appearance being based on Little Red Riding Hood, Chacha was raised by Seravi (who actually has a funny but cool back story) to become a witch. Despite living peacefully in the countryside, the kingdom is ruled by the evil king, Daimaoh. Serevi then gives Chacha and her friends Riiya and Shiine amulets that represent love, courage and hope to turn her into the magical princess to reclaim the kingdom.
Once again, we have a main character who is somewhat of a klutz but not in the same way as Usagi. Chacha’s clumsiness comes from word plays that make sense in Japanese when attempting magic spells. For example, when she tries to summon clouds by the word “kumo,” she summons spiders which is also “kumo” in Japanese. Or whe she wants to summon “hana,” or “flowers,” she summons noses which is also “hana” in Japanese. Both series’ share very similar plot twists with the main characters and tell stories of hope and friendship, but presented in its own unique manner fresh to its audiences. A must see for those who love fairy tales.
6. Fushigi Yuugi (The Mysterious Play)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: April 1995 – March 1996
“Fushigi Yuugi,” or “The Mysterious Play,” tells the story of Yuuki Miaka and Hongo Yui. During a visit to the library, Miaka and Yui find a magical book and are transported into its story of ancient China. Miaka and Yui once best of friends, become bitter enemies as they become priestesses to separate kingdoms they represent. Between both sides, they are aided by seven warriors marked by kanji characters on their bodies in order to summon the God of their kingdoms and have any wish granted to them.
Like Usagi, Miaka is an underachieving and klutzy junior high girl. She just wants to be a normal girl but destiny has led her to do something bigger. She also instantly falls in love with her savior, Tamahome, the anime heartthrob of the 1990s. The love story between Miaka and Tamahome is a driving force of the series as well as Miaka’s relationships with her new friends. Each character offers something distinct and the series will make you care about them and ultimately, make you cry.
Plus, Kae Araki, the voice actress of Miaka, also played Sailor Chibi Moon and briefly played Sailor Moon during the finale of season 1 while Kotono Mitsuishi was sick. The first episode even pays homage to her catch phrase of “In the name of the moon (but instead the sun), I will punish you.” Another big name from “Sailor Moon” is probably one of the best male seiyuus of all time, Midorikawa Hikaru as the voice of Tamahome. He played Ali in the first story arc of “Sailor Moon R” and was also Fiore in the movie. If you’re more of a dub person, then you will get a kick out of David Hayter, the voice of Solid Snake himself as the voice of Tamahome.
Most readers familiar with these titles can agree without dispute that on a foundational definition, they all took influence from “Sailor Moon” though viewers can understandably conclude them as “rip-offs” but all deserve a chance. Of course the differences go beyond just the gimmicks. I believe as long as a series develops its characters and stories to excellent and unpredictable directions (as “Nurse Angel Ririka SOS” and “Magic Knight Rayearth” do a great job of in my personal opinion) and presents its themes and morals in a relatable manner (despite sharing all of them), there is plenty of room to give them a try and enjoy them.
“Fushigi Yuugi” and “Cardcaptor Sakura” were great pieces of character and relationship exploration which made viewers care about them. “Akazukin Chacha” has its humor based around Japanese words that sound the same but mean something different. Then finally, add in recycled animations of transformations and finishing attacks for almost every episode into this list and you got the best similarity ever (though “Saint Seiya” and “Hokuto no Ken” were abusive of this long before these other listed titles premiered but that is another topic for another time).
Now with the new “Crystal” series on the net, will this inspire more studios to take this route to achieve international success? Only inside the fan reactions we will get the message.