Most of the academic sources I’ve found don’t dig too terribly deep on the subject, but this one actually gets at stuff that I feel is important- considering the perceptions of gender in the United States and how Sailor Moon challenges that, and the intersection of two different cultures and all that.
And it’s the first source I’ve seen that actually, you know, INTERVIEWS GIRLS instead of old dudes.
“The preferred model of superheroism remains strongly masculine in the United States and strongly biased against the female heroes, particularly one who behaves in a feminine or girlie manner. There is a message that even if a superhero is a girl, she is expected to act and even look like a boy.
“For many of the preteen girls I interviewed, they found Sailor Moon appealing precisely because she is a “different” kind of female and feminine superhero- a strong character who is “more like them” than boys are. Many of these girls pointed out the paucity of such female oriented superstars in children’s programs, as well as in popular culture more broadly, in the United States”.