Okay, for Rei’s b-day posts I gonna tackle manga and anime Rei seperately. Because they’re both great, but probably the most radically different than any of the characters in that split. Because rather than just toning down or exaggerating, the anime made direct changes to the central tenants of Rei’s character.
Namely, her attitude towards men and sexuality in general. How that is handled is one of my favorite things about manga Rei and why I have so many feels for her.
Rei doesn’t like men. She has no desire to be with them romantically, and holds a mild mistrust/distaste for the gender in general. It’s easy to see where that mistrust stems from- her father abandoned her, and his aide who was one of the only men she felt she could trust and look up to turned into a different person (who she’s convinced will be her father 2.0) and basically left her too. And on top of that, Rei doesn’t seem to harbor any sexual urges or desires regarding boys. Now think about this. Rei in the manga is a character who mistrusts men as a rule and is not interested in heterosexual romance at all and just plain doesn’t feel she needs men or sex in her life- and she is never demonized for it, she is never mocked for it and she is never “fixed”. She stays this way till the end. Her last major line in the manga is stating that she doesn’t need a man.In fact, she specifically goes through some development where she is able to realize that it’s completely fine she isn’t interested in a relationship with a man.
Her issues with men are explored in both the manga and PGSM with sympathy and respect. She’s not painted as some bitter, hateful ugly rabid caricature who froths on and on about how men are the devil and is bitter and insecure and can’t get laid. She’s the most attractive of the inners in the manga, and guys and girls alike line up to drool over her. And her distate for men in not a bitter hatred, just- a lack of sympathy and desire not to deal with them. It only comes up when her friends are assuming she wants to be with a boy- she reminds them “I don’t like boys” and when her friends react in shock, she shrugs and says “that’s how it is, deal with it”. The only other context it comes up in is she hears about men being attacked while chasing after women, and is like “wow,look at all the fucks I give, a taste of their own medicine”. She doesn’t react violently when guys order her drinks in attempts to woo her, she’s like “wow if you’re a sucker enough to do that, bring it on, i’ll lay here and enjoy myself!” And on top of that, she is perfectly happy and fulfilled without a heterosexual relationship- she states several times that the strong bond of loyalty she has with other women is enough for her.
When do you ever see that? When do you ever see a woman who distrusts men and doesn’t want a boyfriend not depicted as hateful or in need of immediate help, but as a happy, fulfilled and ultimately good person who stays single (well, there’s Mina :P but headcanon subtext aside), who DOESN’T end up just needing to “find the right guy”, who is depicted as being just fine the way she is?
What’s more, Rei is shown to struggle with the heteronormativity of those around her. She genuinely doesn’t understand why the norm is wanting to get a boyfriend and have sex. She doesn’t understand why she’s being urged to do these things when she doesn’t want to do them. So a villian preys on this insecurity and tells her she has to go and kiss guys even if she doesn’t like them, she has to find a husband so she can get taken care of, that she IS a deeply broken and unhappy person- and how does Rei respond? She says “Screw you, I’m Sailor Mars, I don’t want any of that, I even took a vow of chastity in the past”. She realizes there’s nothing wrong with who she is.
I just really related deeply to this. I’m someone who has struggled for years and years with the fact I don’t seem to have sexual urges or want boys in the way I’m supposed to, that I can’t even really understand what people are talking about when they go on about romance and fetishes and all that. And I’m only just starting to come to terms with it, I still haven’t completely figured it out? So this story just means a lot a lot to me because I KNOW THAT FEEL. And to have this woman not be “fixed” and made heteronormative, but come off proud and secure in her non-heteronormative identity, and that be the lesson to take away? This is one of those reasons Sailor Moon means a lot to me, and it’s why I adore Rei and Naoko for writing that story.
I also love Rei for her passion and how intense and hardcore she is about protecting women! It’s also both heartbreaking and wonderful how lonely she was before she met the Senshi, that she was isolated both because of the stuff she went through with her family and the fact she was “different”- but when she finds Usagi and the others, she finds her purpose in life and she starts to open up and accept them. The part where she’s so touched when she gets birthday gifts from them, how she starts crying in PGSM (PGSM is basically an expanded version of manga Rei, s’why I include it) when she finds out that there’s this huge important reason for her powers that got her excluded and that she’s actually a part of something, not set apart- then there’s how she admits her loneliness in Stars and admits she wishes she went to the same school as everyone- it’s so sad- but then Mina comforts her and it’s great because you see can that this girl is healing, that she has found true friends and a connection. As a very lonely person myself, I relate so hard.
Also I love how Rei has always had to rely on herself and she’s really tough as a result, so sometimes she shuts others out or is really tough on them (wanting them to be self reliant like her) and she’s slowly able to learn to depend on her friends a little more? I think it’s a great character beat. Ugh she’s so wonderful and complex.
And, let’s not forget- she’s a badass who’s protective of her friends and not scared of anything. Her powers are as cool as hell- she’s an archer! She can control fire! FLAME SNIPER IS THE BEST. She’s a wonderful miko and her ability to disperse evil spirits even in civilian form is the raddest.
She is HOT. And fierce. and gorgeoooous.