I’m a 27 year-old man, and I love Sailor Moon. Love it. I just finished re-watching the first season, and I will freely admit that I cried at the last two episodes.
Yes, it’s a magical girl series aimed at teenage girls. No, it isn’t full of fanservice. I love it because Usagi and her friends get to be people, not simply “girls.”
Usagi (Sailor Moon) is flighty, somewhat lazy, and has to have a sense of responsibility pretty much beaten into her. But here’s the thing: she’s a 14 year-old girl with the fate of the world thrust onto her shoulders. Why should she want to fight scary monsters? It isn’t fair, and Usagi recognizes that, and eventually comes to accept that, fair or not, she has to do it. She is also an incredibly compassionate person, and goes out of her way to help and befriend people.
Ami (Sailor Mercury) is withdrawn and has difficulty standing up for herself, but she is also brilliant and considerate of others’ feelings, usually acting as the peacemaker between Usagi and Rei.
Rei (Sailor Mars) is short-tempered, has bullying tendencies, and a tremendous need to appear more mature than she really is. But she is also incredibly brave and dedicated to her friends.
Mako (Sailor Jupiter) is hot-headed and emotional, with a tendency to get into fights and to become infatuated at the drop of a hat. But she’s also the sort of person who will step in to protect a complete stranger from a group of thugs before she ever became a superhero.
None of these characters is defined by their gender. They may be “magical girls,” but everyone refers to them as senshi (soldiers). And I just love a show where the male lead’s entire role is to distract that bad guy and give the hero an inspiring speech.