Sailor Moon is easily one of the most well-known and revered franchises in anime history. Its enduring relevance is best demonstrated by the more recent Sailor Moon Crystal anime series, as well as the Sailor Moon Eternal films. The success of this anime is not stopping any time soon, and it’s clear why. The show follows Usagi, a middle school girl, as she stumbles upon a magical cat named Luna and finds that she can transform into a superhero named Sailor Moon. Throughout the story, she also finds friends in other girls who discover their abilities, such as Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars.
Some of the most appealing aspects of the franchise are its music, character art and design, strong characters and feminist themes. However, what truly defines the series for many fans is the primary romantic relationship at the center of the story. Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask and Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon are an iconic couple, but more than that, the entire story is contingent on their love for one another. One of the more surprising plot twists in Sailor Moon is the revelation that Usagi and Mamoru are the reincarnated Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion, lovers in another time and place. This backstory helps to situate the pair’s growing feelings for one another, being a couple that were utterly devoted to each other in at least one other lifetime.
Even separate from their mind-bending journeys to reunite in their current lives, Mamoru and Usagi eventually grow to balance each other out in a lot of important ways. One glaring example of this is how Usagi’s whiny immaturity is balanced out by Mamoru’s maturity and reasonable nature. To be fair, Usagi is younger than Mamoru, but her personality is contingent upon her childishness, and she needs a partner who can help ground her. Mamoru is this person for her, while she pulls him out of his shell and gets him to have more fun in his day-to-day life. The two are always making up for what the other is lacking and gently nudging each other in the right direction, which shows their strength as a couple.
Despite their compatibility, Usagi and Mamoru don’t start as a perfect couple, particularly in the original 1992 Sailor Moon anime. Although their hero alter-egos have sizzling romantic chemistry, Usagi finds Mamoru rude and condescending at the start of the series, and he finds her childish and annoying. However, once the cat is out of the bag about their alter egos and their love in a previous timeline, they are much more accepting of one another, realizing their feelings and beginning a relationship.
Further on, the two are confronted by their child from the future, Chibiusa, and must come face-to-face with their future selves, King Endimyon and Neo-Queen Serenity. This is where it’s most obvious how much the two care for each other. Usagi worries that Mamoru is losing interest in her now that Chibiusa has arrived and takes up so much of their time and energy. However, he goes to great lengths to reassure her of the stability of their relationship, even in the face of all the surrounding chaos. Meanwhile, in battle, it’s obvious that these two would do just about anything to protect one another.
The fact that these two find each other time and time again, no matter the distance between them, definitely makes Usagi and Mamoru stand out as a couple. Most anime couples aren’t drawn together in such grandiose ways, but this extravagance makes perfect sense for what Sailor Moon does as a series. Nothing is more of a guarantee in this show, particularly the ’90s adaptation, that things will always happen on the largest scale possible. A battle between Sailor Moon and a villain is never just a fight between foes but rather a battle for the peace of the entire planet, and this is no different when it comes to Usagi and Mamoru. Even when they are just a typical teenage couple, there’s always an awareness that something far larger than the two of them is happening just in their periphery. The show wouldn’t be its over-the-top self without Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask being as colorful in all their iterations as the story itself is.
The way that Usagi and Mamoru found each other again isn’t only interesting because of all the ways in which they bend space and time, but also in how this history between them makes their love all the more special. Even when they’re angry with each other or get frustrated at the situations they find themselves in, the pair never loses sight of how important their relationship is. A great example of this comes in a tense moment in Sailor Moon Crystal, where Mamoru has been brainwashed by villains from the Dark Kingdom and Sailor Moon is forced to fight him. When she is unable to break him free from his brainwashing, his pursuit of her nearly coming to a deadly end, she stabs him and then herself.