A Live-Action “Sailor Moon” Movie, Two Ways

The Sailor Moon television show has captivated audiences worldwide since the early 1990s with gloriously multi-dimensional and diverse characters, a strong emphasis on friendship, and a potent mix of action and emotion. Looking at more contemporary fare, it’s clear that shows like The Powerpuff Girls, Steven Universe, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among many others, owe something to this magical saga featuring teenage girls with superpowers (total #squadgoals) saving the world from the villainous Queen Beryl and her Dark Kingdom.

A live-action version of Sailor Moon, titled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, ran as a TV series from 2004-2005, but isn’t it time for a live-action feature-length movie? Anime has been crossing over into global pop culture more and more, and since Sailor Moon has been broadcast in no less than twenty-five countries (and counting!), it’s clear there is a large international audience for a potential movie. So the question isn’t why, of course, but how: Who would direct this ambitious celestial epic, and who would star as the Sailor Scouts, Tuxedo Mask, and Queen Beryl?

Well for starters, it’s pretty clear that Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi was born to play the role of Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon), the lead. Mako Mori was just a warm-up! And speaking of Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro would make a really interesting choice to direct. Of course, Ava DuVernay has also more than proven that she has the vision and the voice for just such a project, as well. And given the show’s fervent following, it’s also tempting to imagine the kind of international cast that could play the rest of the characters.

However! There are, obviously, a plethora of Japanese auteurs who could bring something unique and fascinating to a live-action interpretation of the Sailor Scouts’ travails, like Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Tetsuya Nakashima, Masashi Yamamoto, Hisako Matsui, and even the infamous Takashi Miike. It also deserves to be said that a supercharged live-action Sailor Moon could easily be cast exclusively with actors and actresses from Japan, or with Japanese heritage.

The talent, the creativity, and, above all, the appeal, exists to imagine “Sailor Moon: The Movie” in a multitude of ways—these are just two of them. Considering that the characters in the original Sailor Moon saga are high schoolers, admittedly these casts skew a bit older, but hey—Luna and Artemis have restored the memories of the Sailor Scouts before, they can do it again whenever they like! Here are some wildly speculative thoughts on how that could be brought to life: 

Rinko Kikuchi as Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon

Rila Fukushima/Ellen Wong as Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury

You may remember Fukushima for her roles as mutant ninja Yukio in The Wolverine and the superhero Katana on Arrow, as well as the Red Robed Geisha in Ghost in the Shell. She’d be great as the shy yet powerful genius Sailor Mercury! As for Ellen Wong, she turns as sweet yet fierce Knives Chau in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Jenny Chey on GLOW show she can take this role on with aplomb.

Chiaki Kuriyama/Alicia Vikander as Rei Hino/Sailor Mars

Sailor Mars is the wild card of the Sailor Scouts—if she were a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, she’d be Raphael. As for who should play her? Two words: Gogo Yubari. Actress Chiaki Kuriyama also shined in the bloody and brilliant Battle Royale (also known as the original Hunger Games). Need we say more? And of course, Alicia Vikander, with her butt-kicking background as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and Ava in Ex Machina, not to mention her Academy Award, could also tackle the nuance of a power struggle with the lead.

Devon Aoki/Freida Pinto as Kino Makoto/Sailor Jupiter

For the part of domestically-inclined tomboy Sailor Jupiter, who is better than model-actress Devon Aoki, who has been both a fierce street racer (in a pink car, no less) in 2 Fast 2 Furious and a prep-school secret agent in the campy action-comedy D.E.B.S.? Of course, with an international cast, the tough and tender Freida Pinto (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Slumdog Millionaire) might also bring a special warmth to the role.

Jhene Aiko/ Zoe Saldana as Minako Aino/Sailor Venus

Okay, technically Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus are supposed to look alike, but the athletic, graceful, and pop-culture-obsessed Sailor Scout would be rendered beautifully by glamorous pop star Jhene Aiko. Alternatively, Zoe Saldana certainly has the chops for battle scenes, but few may remember that almost twenty years ago, she played a ballet dancer in teen cult drama Center Stage!

Takeshi Kaneshiro/Timothée Chalamet as Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask

The totally crush-worthy Takeshi Kaneshiro has proven, with roles in House of Flying Daggers and Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express, that he’s both a lover and a fighter. How perfect for the part of Sailor Moon’s ally and boyfriend? And as for Chalamet, who has made waves in acclaimed recent releases Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name…well, doesn’t he just seem like the kind of guy who could really pull off that cape and top hat? Think about it.

Eihi Shiina/ Zhang Ziyi as Queen Beryl

Last but not least, for Sailor Moon: The Movie’s “big bad,” here are two certified baddies who would bring the icy strength and chilling charisma to the role of Queen Beryl: Eihi Shiina, the horror queen from Tokyo Gore Police and Audition, and Zhang Ziyi, the wuxia powerhouse from House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s enough to make you shudder with anticipation!

Don’t you think that casting imaginary movies is like fantasy football, but for movie lovers? Don’t miss our other articles on Casting IT: Chapter Two and Throwback Cartoons We Wish Were (Good) Live-Action Movies!
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