Sailor Moon Symbolism: Ribbons
Ribbons are featured prominently in the Sailor Moon series. They appear
- In various artwork.
- During Sailor Moon’s transformations. Nearly all of her transformations feature masses of dark pink ribbons appearing and forming the basis of her fuku, including her gloves and boots. The series seems to imply that Sailor Moon’s fuku really is made up of magical ribbons; whenever her transformation is forcibly undone, her fuku dissolves into ribbons.
- During Sailor Chibi Moon’s transformations. Just like her mother, Chibi Moon’s fuku seems to be made up of ribbons.
- As Minako’s iconic red bow. Minako is never seen without her red ribbon in her hair. According to the first chapter of Codename: Sailor V, Minako originally started wearing it because her crush said she’d look cute with it in her hair. Later on, that crush turned out to be a youma, and Minako (as Sailor V) was forced to kill him. After that. Minako still continued to wear the red ribbon because she felt that it really suited her.
- As part of the Senshi’s fuku. All of the Sol System Senshi have both a front and a back bow, mostly sharing the same color (except for Mars, Venus, and Uranus, whose bows are two different colors). In their Super forms, the back bows are lengthened, and in their Eternal forms, the bows become much thinner and more ribbon-like.
“Ribbons do have a significance of their own when talking about the magical girl genre. They also evoke a sense of girlhood. When we think of ribbons many of us think of elementary-age and younger with ribbons in their hair or very feminine girls’ clothing. Since the genre deals with that age between being a girl and entering adolescence, then it’s fitting that ribbons appear in transformations that symbolize that mental and physical shift.”
Ribbons are, in a word, feminine. Not only are they feminine, they evoke images of girlhood; shiny sashes on beautiful dresses, trailing decorations that spill from hair and hats, etc. Ribbons are a sign of blossoming, of having enough confidence to want to stand out. Also, a ribbon tied into a bow resembles a flower.
Given that Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon features girls and women who embrace their femininity instead of being ashamed of it, ribbons are a very fitting symbol indeed. Additionally, the way Sailor Moon’s fuku dissolves into ribbons when she goes back to being Usagi Tsukino could represent her going back to the innocence of her normal life.
Finally, Minako’s red ribbon has a special meaning of its own. Many Asian cultures believe in the red string of fate; according to this belief, two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. This magical cord may get stretched or tangled, but it will never break. Given that Sailor Venus is the Soldier of Love and is based on the mythological Aphrodite/Venus (the Goddess of Love who often took it upon herself to play a matchmaker for couples “in need”), it makes perfect sense for the red string of fate to be visualized in her design.