Sailor Moon Was My Gateway into Japanese Food

I grew up with Sailor Moon. I remember waking up at 6:30am in the morning just to catch episodes, and increasingly found myself drawn into its world and its characters.

If I were to list my top 3 nostalgic Sailor Moon moments, they would be…

  1. The final battle against Queen Metallia
  2. Usagi (Serena back then) revealing herself to be Sailor Moon to Tuxedo Mask
  3. The curry episode

That last one might have you scratching your head, so let me explain.

Titled “Usagi’s Parental Love? A Curry Triangle Relationship” in Japanese and “A Curried Favor” in English, the episode was mostly just a self-contained bit of hijinks that ends with Usagi making a rather grotesque-looking curry that somehow turns out to be quite delicious. It was the first time I’d heard of curry in a Japanese context, and though that might not seem like much, I think it put me on a path towards wanting to try more Japanese food.

sailormooncurry

Japanese food in cartoons did not always get the best reputation. Sushi is now a big deal, but back in the days of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, for example, most kids followed the Turtles in expressing disgust towards “raw fish.” Perhaps one significant factor is that the sushi seen in TMNT looked nothing like the real thing. If anything, it appeared to be drawn by aliens who had only heard of sushi through satellite transmissions.

Even if Usagi’s curry didn’t look like “proper” curry, just the idea that it could bring such joy and was not contrasted with pizza or another familiar dish in the US left an impression on me. Looking back, it was also impressive that the old English dub translated it to “curry” instead of calling it “beef stew,” like how the Pokémon anime would call onigiri rice balls “donuts” and “popcorn balls.”

While curry isn’t exclusive to Japanese culture, Japanese curry is its own unique thing compared to, say, Indian or Thai curry. It’s more like a stew, tends to be much less spicy, and has a reputation as a real comfort food. I think that last aspect might epitomize Usagi’s curry: much like a favorite pair of jeans it might not look worn down, but you know that it just makes you feel at home.

By the way, in the past you could actually buy “Sailor Moon Curry.” I doubt it properly reflected that “disaster on a plate” look, though.

sailormooncurrybox

You can watch the curry episode of Sailor Moon available on Hulu. Check it out and see if it fills you with the desire to eat curry that’s ugly on the outside but wonderful on the inside.

And if you want to try some delicious Japanese food while enjoying some of the best that Japanese anime and manga, film, fashion, and more, check out Waku Waku +NYC this August 29-30th! Tickets are on sale now.

-Carl

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