Sailor Moon is perhaps the best-known shōjo series of all time. Created by Naoko Takeuchi, the pretty soldier battled villains from across the galaxy to save the Solar System. Adapted into an anime series in the 1990s, Sailor Moon helped popularize manga and anime across the globe and introduced many of the magic girl tropes that have inspired countless female-fronted series since it was released, blending fun adventures with witty dialogue, and creating a varied central group of women capable of taking on the world, developing complex and meaningful relationships.
Romance and friendships sit firmly at the heart of Sailor Moon, with schoolgirl Usagi Tsukino pursuing crushes and having fun with her friends when she isn't too busy saving the galaxy. From best friends to bad boyfriends, let's take a look at some of the best and worst relationships from the franchise.
10 Worst: Prince Diamond and Sailor Moon
When Prince Diamond from the Black Moon Clan notices Usagi's resemblance to Princess Serenity, he develops an unsettling and unhealthy obsession with the young girl, firmly establishing him as one of the biggest creeps on the show. Not only is he an awful villain who treats his subordinates terribly, but he also has real boundary issues. He repeatedly tries to win Usagi's affections, using any means necessary, including hypnosis.
His many attempts fail, but that doesn't stop the Prince from kidnapping her, changing her clothes, and keeping her on his bed. Consent is key to good relationships, and it's completely lacking from this one.
9 Best: Zoisite and Kunzite
Just because characters are villainous doesn't mean their romance can't be cute. Zoisite and Kunzite originally appeared in the manga as an experienced mentor and complete newbie pairing, but their relationship would later be redefined in the Japanese version of the anime, depicting the two men as lovers.
Toei Animation has been credited as being the first studio to bring LGBTQ+ relationships to Japanese television, so it's perhaps not surprising that they reworked this fan-favorite duo from the manga into a deeper relationship, becoming the first same-sex couple to feature in Sailor Moon. Unfortunately, 1990s America wasn't ready for their romance, instead changing Zoisite to a woman and depicting a straight romance.
8 Worst: Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon
Quite a few characters saw considerable changes when the manga was adapted for television, with Rei being one of the most notable examples. While her relationship with Usagi has often been linked with light bickering—no doubt a side-effect of her hot-headed nature as the Guardian of Fire and War—it became much more antagonistic in the anime.
Rei's snarky comments and actions towards Usagi often strays into being mean-spirited, cruel bullying. While high school friendships tend to be riddled with petty arguments and fallouts, it's disheartening to see such a strained and sometimes cold relationship between two Sailor Scouts.
7 Best: Luna and Artemis
Few characters are as beloved as the mystical cat guardians from the planet Mau. Given the series' central focus on finding love, it's not surprising these kitty sidekicks eventually fell for each other, though their relationship remained ambiguous until Sailor Moon Super S when their daughter, Diana, appeared from the future.
Their journey hasn't been easy, which is what makes it so compelling. Diana's appearance caused Luna to worry about their child's true parentage, and Luna even fell for an astronomer in a short manga story. Nevertheless, these two are evidently destined to be together, and the ups-and-downs of their relationships only strengthens their bond.
6 Worst: Naru and Nephrite
A villain's redemption arc fueled by love for another can be a heart-warming addition to any saga. However, Naru and Nephrite's romance plants itself in the weird and creepy. In a scene which is uncomfortably voyeuristic, Nephrite—an adult villain determined to destroy Earth—finds himself in sleeping 14-year-old Naru's room in the dead of night, searching for the Silver Crystal.
What follows is a deeply manipulative and drastically underdeveloped relationship in which Nephrite exploits Naru, literally draining her of energy. While Nephrite's ultimate demise is moving, dying while trying to save Naru, it doesn't quite make up for their undoubtedly problematic relationship.
5 Best: Sailor Moon and Sailor Star Fighter
As a civilian, Sailor Star Fighter is Seiya Kou, a handsome and successful singer in a popular idol group, Three Lights. Immediately drawn to Usagi, he showers her with affection and compliments, and the pair appear to have a genuine, meaningful companionship. With his easy-going nature, intriguing personality, and exciting civilian life complementing Usagi's curious and kind character, it would have been interesting to explore the possibilities of their relationship further.
Unfortunately, by the time Seiya appears, Usagi's heart firmly belongs to Mamoru, leaving many viewers sighing in agreement when the popstar tells Usagi, "I wish I had met you sooner" before bidding her farewell.
4 Worst: Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask
Usagi and Mamoru's destined romances are one of the most celebrated in anime history. However, re-watching the show, it's undoubtedly one of the unhealthiest relationships to grace our screens, and not just because of the questionable age gap. Mamoru seems to delight in tearing Usagi down. He ridicules her intelligence, berates for her crying even though she draws power from her emotions, jokes about her weight and appearance, and even tells her she has no inner beauty.
When his future-self tests the young couple's love, haunting Mamoru with recurring dreams of their relationship leading to Usagi's death, Mamoru breaks up with the Sailor Scout in a deliberately cold-hearted, irredeemable way. Nevertheless, Usagi continues to pursue his love, knowing they are destined to be together, even going so far as to risk her life for him in Sailor Moon R: The Movie. She deserves so much better than the bland and bitter Mamoru.
3 Best: Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus
While Zoisite and Kunzite can claim the title of first LGBTQ+ couple in the series, it's Michiru and Haruka's touching love story that has captured the hearts of fans around the world and one which Sailor Moon creator, writer, and artist, Naoko Takeuchi, is particularly fond of.
While their romance was also the victim of 90s US censorship, turning the two Sailor Scouts into cousins, it remained obvious the pair had a deep affection for each other which was super inappropriate for cousins! The pair have an intimate and adorable connection, and one which appears to have been written in the stars. The only Sailor to awaken herself, Michiru watched Haruka from afar before awakening her and starting their journey together.
2 Worst: Rini and Mamoru
When Rini arrived in Sailor Moon R, her flirtatious behavior towards Mamoru took many by surprise, especially when he learned she was his daughter from the future. Judging by her desperate pursuit for his affections, her journey back in time wasn't just to help the Sailor Scouts.
To make things worse, Mamoru does nothing to discourage or stop the 5-year-old, even when he learns he's her father! The complex family relationship deepens during a subplot where an adult Rini becomes the villainous Black Lady and passionately kisses Mamoru. This inappropriate romance simply amplifies how poorly Rini is handled in the series and gets a big 'Nope' from us.
1 Best: The Sailor Scouts
Although Sailor Moon champions fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight, the strongest theme sitting at the heart of both the manga and anime is friendship. The Sailor Scouts are all vastly different, each bringing new perspectives and abilities to the team, but have a deep connection regardless.
While the group may bicker and compete against each other, they always resolve their conflicts and remain close friends. While Rei may sometimes push the boundary between banter and bullying, each of the girls ultimately draws all of their strength from their loving friendships, allowing them to be a supportive, powerful team of warriors.