Even 20 years after the original manga and anime ended their runs in Japan, "Sailor Moon" still retains her powers and hold over her fans, as crowds to the first permanent shop dedicated to the girl superheroine will attest.
About 200 fans waited in line for the world's first Sailor Moon permanent shop to open on Sept. 23 in Tokyo's hip Harajuku district, and more than 600 customers turned up. On average, about 400 customers visited the store each day during the first week. The store has become so popular that clerks have to temporarily limit the number of shoppers allowed inside when it is overcrowded.
The store targets not only children but also then-elementary-school age fans of Sailor Moon who are now in their late 20s and 30s.
Located inside the Laforet Harajuku fashion department store, the Sailor Moon Store offers a wide variety of merchandise related to the "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon" manga and animated series widely popular in the 1990s. It is jointly operated by Kodansha Ltd., which publishes the monthly Nakayoshi comic anthology for girls in which the original manga series ran, Toei Animation Co. and toymaker Bandai Co.
The store, which is in two sections with a total floor space of about 53 square meters, deals in about 300 items. The pink-themed section highlights the glamorous side of the superheroine, while the blue-themed section across an aisle is designed to conjure up the mystical universe.
The highlight of the store is a collection of original goods available exclusively there. An iPhone case, sells for 2,000 yen ($18), excluding tax, a handkerchief (1,200 yen), a tote bag (1,800 yen) and other items are offered in the pink-themed section. A can of caramel candies (850 yen), a jar of "konpeito" sugar candies (950 yen) and other products can be ideal souvenirs. Meanwhile, the blue-themed section handles T-shirts modeled after Sailor Moon’s suit (3,240 yen, including tax) and other apparel items.
In total, there are about 15 original goods.
"We have brought together all Sailor Moon goods ranging from not only original ones but also everything out there," said Kaori Takayanagi, from Toei Animation’s merchandising department.
The original manga series started its run in Nakayoshi’s February 1992 edition, followed by the Saturday night anime series that premiered in March the same year.
The story centers around Usagi Tsukino, a clumsy junior high school girl who makes friends with a talking cat named Luna. She transforms into Sailor Moon using a magical compact given from the black cat and fights evil with other Sailor Guardians and Tuxedo Mask.
One of the biggest reasons why "Sailor Moon" became widely popular especially among elementary schoolgirls was that it was accepted as a long-awaited substitute of the "Super Sentai" live-action superhero shows for boys on which the U.S.-produced "Power Rangers" is based.
Both the original manga and the anime ended their runs in 1997 in Japan.
Young girls hooked on "Sailor Moon" at the time are now in their late 20s and 30s, who make up a large part of the target demographic for the permanent shop. Appealing to these generations, many cosmetic items are also on offer.
Manufactured by Bandai, the Miracle Romance Makeup Powder (4,093 yen) is a compact inspired by the powder case used by Usagi when she transforms into Sailor Moon. Originally, the compact became extremely popular in 2015 when the toymaker produced it on a made-to-order basis via its online store. It was sold out in a week after it was re-released at the store.
"Sailor Moon" has also been popular outside Japan. The anime series has been aired in about 20 countries and regions mainly in Asia and Europe.
In addition to children, grown-up cosplay enthusiasts also apparently have adopted the superheroine franchise. A pop-up store that opened in Taipei in July attracted roughly 14,000 fans in about one month.
At the new permanent shop in Harajuku, sales have been "better than expected," with many inbound tourists from the United States and European countries also stopping by, Takayanagi said.
The Sailor Moon Store is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.