iTSO: You’ve had The Sailor Senshi Page online since 1996. How has the anime fandom online community changed since you first opened the site?
Robin: It has changed a whole lot. In 1996, the Internet was still a relatively new thing to most people. I don’t recall most people I know even having Internet access. I met my friends through online mailing lists and IRC, rather than via websites. I don’t think website design was really a thing at that point – everyone was still using Netscape as a web browser, frames were the brand new thing, and there were free website hosts offering 1MB of space with no ads. Anime itself wasn’t mainstream like it is now, even after Sailor Moon came to North America, so to find other people to talk with, you joined mailing lists or chat rooms. If you wanted anime information, obviously there wasn’t Wikipedia back then, so you relied on people like Hitoshi Doi. If you wanted to watch anime, you had to pay $30 for a 2-episode VHS tape and find fansub distributors for non-commercial titles. Nowadays, you can find manga in North American bookstores, scanlations everywhere, and anime streaming online a day after it airs in Japan. Personally-run anime fansites and shrines were much bigger 15 years ago; now there are wikis and Facebook pages instead. Everyone has Internet, and everyone can share their opinions, graphics, fanfics, etc. quickly with thousands of people via social media.
iTSO: What was the main goal when you created TSSP? Can you give us a little history of the site?
R: I first started the website because I really loved Sailor Moon and wanted to share my love of the series with other people. My goal was really just to make a website that had accurate information and maybe some pictures. It was not meant to be as big a website as it got, but at some point I just kept adding more and more content. It started off with just the anime and character profiles, then expanded onto other incarnations of the series (of which there are so, so many). The website began on Geocities, and it went through a whole slew of different webhosting providers and URLs before I finally gave up and just paid for a domain name and hosting.
iTSO: I think I came across SSP back in 2003 (that shouldn’t rhyme). How did the site look (design and content wise) when it first opened?
R: When I first started the website, I don’t think website design was actually a thing. (Maybe it was, and I just didn’t know it.) But The SSP was born on Geocities, and I had no idea how to code HTML then. I used Geocities’ webpage editor and their free graphics (stuff like rainbow divider lines, list bullets, etc) to make the site. If I recall correctly, it had a white background, everything was centered, there were maybe one or two Sailor Moon images on it, and I used a bunch of Geocities’ graphics to divide up the content. It was a very small website and very plain. On the other hand, I know that it didn’t make your eyes bleed, so there’s that at least.
SSP has received many awards and has been referenced by many a shrine, general site, and even a magazine!
iTSO: What do you think of the attention SSP has received?
R: I’ve always been happy when The SSP gets mentioned or praised. It’s a website I put a lot of time and effort into, so to know that it’s helped and inspired people is a really great feeling. I think one of the most interesting forms of attention I’ve gotten is from the Sailor Moon merchandise team. The 2002 Japanese Sailor Moon calendar copied some text from The SSP (http://www.eternalsailormoon.org/japanese.html) and put it in the background of their calendar pages. It wasn’t until 2007 that I learned about it. It’s a funny and flattering thing, unofficial as the attention may have been.
iTSO: Have there been any criticisms?
R: It’s probably time being forgiving or my memory being rusty, but I can’t really recall many toward The SSP. (Criticisms toward me personally are a bit different! I know I had more than a few in that regard.) I think a number of people were irritated by my Dumb Rumors pages, but other than that, I don’t really remember many criticisms of the website.
iTSO: For those who want to create a fan site, what advice can you give them?
R: I think you want to start off small and manageable, with a definite goal in mind. You don’t want to get overwhelmed by trying to do and be everything. If you want to make a Sailor Moon website, for example, what is your focus going to be? Media? Information? If so, what kind of media, what kind of information? Sailor Moon has so many different versions and incarnations, if you’re going to try to cover every aspect of it, you’re going to burn yourself out if you don’t take it one step at a time. For fan sites/shrines to characters, you have a lot more freedom to be creative in terms of presentation and content, as opposed to a more informative fan site to a series. Making fan sites should be fun, not a chore, and a good way to make it a chore is to be overwhelmed by doing too much at once.
iTSO: What sparked your interest in anime, and particularly, in Sailor Moon?
R: I believe that my first anime series was Ronin Warriors (Yoroiden Samurai Troopers), but Sailor Moon was my gateway anime/manga series. Actually, I got into the manga first, which I first encountered in Asia the summer before Sailor Moon debuted in North America. I loved the art, the romance, the drama, and how it was about girls being awesome. I fell in love with the characters most of all. When I was abroad, I saw glimpses of the anime (it was really, really popular in Asia) and bought comic compilations of the anime episodes, but I never actually watched a full episode until the DIC dub came out. After that, I started becoming interested in other anime series – initially other magical girls series, before branching out to other types of anime and, later, manga.
iTSO: What were some of your favorite Sailor Moon fan sites from the early days?
R: Other than Hitoshi Doi’s website, there were The Everchanging Sailormoon Gateway, Serenitatis, A Sailor Moon Romance, LyricMoon, and the Amazoness Quartet’s review website. I’m sure there were others as well.
iTSO: You have a select collection of sibling/affiliate sites (Serenitatis,
Memoirs of a Fish). In your opinion, what makes a good fan site?
R: I like fan sites that have solid content and are original in some way, be it in writing, presentation, or unique features. I have seen fan sites that look promising, but they have basic copied-and-pasted or recycled information or, in the case of character fan sites, they have shallow analysis. If it’s an informative website, it needs to have a lot of information that is detailed and easily laid out. If it’s a media website, it needs to have a lot of original media. For character fan sites, I like informative webpages that also explain why the owner loves the character or believes the character deserves a fan site.
iTSO: Not a lot of “shrines” exist anymore.
R: I am not really sure since I haven’t kept up with the Sailor Moon fandom community. I believe there are a couple of “old school” websites still online, but most are static, and I’m afraid I don’t know much about newer Sailor Moon websites. But I know that a lot of the friends I made when I was a kid are still very fond of Sailor Moon now, even though we’re adults and it’s been almost 20 years. I think everyone who’s ever loved Sailor Moon still has some of that love in them, even today, and most were excited to hear about Sailor Moon Crystal.
iTSO: The “Dumb Rumors” and “Infleunces on Takeuchi Naoko” pages are probably the most original things on any website. What got you thinking “I need to make pages about these”?
R: “Dumb Rumors” came up when I kept seeing ridiculous stories and rumors popping all over the Internet. Back in the day, there weren’t many reliable sources of information for Sailor Moon, and even fansubs could be misleading, if not outright wrong. I was, and still am, a person who likes to use sarcasm to mock things, so making a webpage mocking really awful misconceptions seemed a good idea. I don’t know how useful or applicable that section is now in 2014, but maybe it can provide a snapshot of the confusion and misinformation that was fairly rampant in the Sailor Moon community in the late 90s/early 2000s.
“Influences on Takeuchi Naoko” was a result of the Sailor Moon Indiana Mailing List, of which I was a member. Several more artistically-inclined members noticed that some Sailor Moon images and outfits were inspired by famous artworks, and I thought the idea was cool enough to warrant having a webpage collecting the examples.
iTSO: What do you think of the live-action adapations (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and SeraMyu musicals)?
R: I wasn’t a huge fan of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, especially Usagi as a character and the whole Dark Mercury thing, but it was a cute series overall. However, I loved the musicals from SailorStars and onwards. They had good music, fun stories, and some really great actresses to portray the characters (particularly Anza for Usagi). It was nice that the musicals could show a lighter, more casual side to some of the characters (like Setsuna and the Three Lights), and the girls got to actually hang out and interact like they were all close friends, rather than having the younger girls and the Outer Senshi be segregated like the anime tended to do.
iTSO: What are your opinions of Sailor Moon Crystal so far? What are you most looking forward to?
R: I’m keeping an open mind. I like some aspects of the character designs and dislike others, but I’m withholding judgment until I see how the series looks fully animated. It appears as though the new anime is going to follow the manga more closely, but I’m not sure how the pacing will be. The series will be 26 episodes, but I don’t know if Toei plans on only adapting the Dark Kingdom arc, or if they’ll try to condense more of the manga story into those episodes. I’m just looking forward to a new version of the Sailor Moon storyline… and crossing my fingers that this version eventually moves past the Dark Kingdom arc.
iTSO: What are the future plans for SSP?
R: At this point, I don’t really have any plans to update the website, other than with news once in a while. There have been several points in the past where I planned on updating the current information and revamping the layout, but time and other interests have gotten in the way. The SSP has been static for a long while, and I haven’t been directly involved in the Sailor Moon community for ages, but hopefully The SSP’s current information is still useful to visitors. And who knows, maybe the new anime series will inspire me to update.
iTSO: Who is your favorite Sailor Guardian?
R: My favorite senshi is Michiru. She’s graceful, strong, beautiful, talented, and sensitive with a killer style, a wonderful girlfriend, and an adorable family. She was my ideal character while I was growing up.
iTSO: Out of all of the Sailor Moon songs, which is your favorite?
R: Ah, you made me go to SailorMusic.net to check… “Uranus, Soshite, Neptune” because it has that beautiful violin music and encapsulates the Outer Senshi perfectly. Whenever I think of Sailor Moon S, I think of that track. For a vocal track, probably “Moon Revenge.”
Thanks to the Robin for giving us a glimpse into her experience and bit of a history lesson! We conclude #SailorWeek with our final special interview later today!