a love of forced obligation?

This article stems from a topic that I had read in which the author questioned the whether or not Usagi and Mamoru would have fallen in love had they not learned of their past life together. Although the manga firmly displays the obvious affection between Usagi and Mamoru before the return of their memories, the writers of the anime portray this topic in a murky fashion. Usagi and Mamoru do not seem very attracted towards before the revelation of their past and so fans often ridicule their relationship as being full of loopholes, arguing that if Usagi and Mamoru had never regained their memories, they would never have been. This essay will prove otherwise, citing specific examples from the anime and manga, along with screencaps and manga exerts.

 The Anime Story

In the early episodes of the anime, Usagi and Mamoru do not seem to possess a great deal of interest towards one another. Their relationship can be surmised as a college student who is forever pestered by a whiny fourteen-year-old middle schooler. Their shared banter does not appear to hold any flirtatious teasing, and Mamoru seems to possess little desire towards Usagi, while she may occasionally act slightly jealous over Mamoru's attention towards Rei. At times, we are given hints that allude to a possible emotional connection between the two. As Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, she is smitten by her savior, and he too seems to be attracted towards Sailor Moon, complimenting her and consistently rescuing her. When he is unable to save her in episode 33: The Last Sailor Senshi, Sailor Venus Appears, he berates himself in frustration. Their relationship in the anime is portrayed as two separate stories: Usagi and Mamoru; Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Moon. In 34: The Sparkling Silver Crystal! The Moon Princess Appears, the grey line between superhero romance and civilian (banter) fades away, allowing Usagi and Mamoru's affection towards one another to become unmistakably apparent.

It starts when Usagi slaps Mamoru's injured shoulder in a playful gesture, one that hints that Usagi does not despise her "nemesis" as much as she previously made to be. Upon seeing Mamoru wince, Usagi is immediately concerned, her loud enthusiastic tone softening as she inquires, What's wrong? Mamoru's reaction to Usagi is also different. Rather than insulting her, he regards her warmly as he does his best to hide his physical pain. Perky as usual, he remarks, but without malice - this time, it is a tender observation. Before Mamoru leaves, he gives Usagi a small smile and tells her to never change who she is.

Another glimpse is shown when Usagi and Mamoru are trapped in the elevator that Zoicite has seized. Mamoru opens up to Usagi, shares his past with her, and then wonders aloud as to why he has done so. Usagi blushes as she confesses that she does not find Mamoru to be a complete jerk. This is a soft, quiet moment between the two, a small fraction in time where the life-threatening dangers of their situation blur around them, leaving the two of them at peace with simply being with one another.

Continuing with this scene, Usagi and Mamoru then discover each other's alter ego of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen -- before they learn about their past selves. This is a pivotal development for them. An intimate moment occurs where the two of them are caught up in each other's gaze, Zoicite's threatening presence forgotten. Tuxedo Kamen promises Sailor Moon that he will protect her and Sailor Moon's cheeks flush in a slight hue.

However, the strongest proof of their mutual affection is when Tuxedo Kamen risks his life to save Sailor Moon from Zoicite's attack. Mamoru does not know that Usagi is Princess Serenity, he does not know that he once swore centuries ago to protect her. Tuxedo Kamen only knows that Sailor Moon is Usagi and that he cares for her, as Tuxedo Kamen has shown repeatedly. If Mamoru despises Usagi as much as he is thought to in the anime, then upon discovering Sailor Moon's identity, his feelings for her should have waned, not magnified. Tuxedo Kamen's urgency in protecting Usagi would not have been heightened with such desperation as it is when he throws himself in front of her. The same is said for Sailor Moon -- her grief would not have been as intense if she had realized that the man she loved was really the guy she was so terribly put off by.

The Doom Tree series is, what I feel, the best continuous example of Mamoru's honest affection towards Usagi. Usagi is already aware of her love for Mamoru and their lives in the Moon Kingdom. Mamoru, however, is completely oblivious. Yet it is through these episodes that Mamoru's feelings for Usagi is able to grow without anyone accusing him of having insincere motives due to obligations. It is in this season that Usagi and Mamoru dispel all talk of their personalities being incompatible with one another, disproving statements that Usagi's immaturity does not match Mamoru's stoic, disinterested and overtly mature nature. It is within the Doom Tree series that Usagi and Mamoru portray their friendship with one another on various occasions. There are a few situations that stand out the most.

The first is within episode 50: Usagi's Crisis! The Tiara Doesn't Work, in which Usagi, Mamoru, Ail and An go to a virtual reality game center. While there, Usagi becomes utterly terrified by a virtual monster and flees the scene. Although Mamoru is being pursued by An, he is instantly aware of Usagi's departure and chases after her, announcing that she will certainly become lost. When the two of them finally reunite, Mamoru grabs Usagi's hand and eagerly tugs her along to find and defeat other virtual monsters. While they are running, Mamoru turns his face back towards Usagi and smiles. One can see that within this moment that Mamoru is truly enjoying her company.

Another example is in episode 53: Mamoru and Usagi's Babysitting Mayhem when Usagi assists Mamoru's babysitting task. During their time together, An visits and makes a mess of things, much in the same manner that Usagi had while she was there. As An leaves, Mamoru makes no move to stop her. Usagi arrives at the same moment when An is leaving and, hurt that Mamoru would let another girl visit him, also attempts to run out. This time however, Mamoru catches her arm and tries to prevent her from leaving. It matters to him that Usagi is mad at him, that Usagi wants to leave so suddenly.

At the end of the Doom Tree series, Mamoru's actions and emotions are heightened to the fullest as he tries to save Usagi from the Doom Tree's evil advances against them. It is no longer simply a matter of Mamoru liking Usagi as a friend or enjoying her company. Mamoru proves his strong attachment towards Usagi by throwing himself repeatedly in harm's way to protect her. Mamoru seems to first come to this realization when Sailor Moon, who he now knows to be Usagi, sacrifices herself to protect Mamoru from An's treacherous energy blasts. Sailor Moon refuses to move, stating that she will willingly put aside her own well being if only to protect the one she loves. Hearing this, Mamoru looks up at her with startled expression of awe. As An lets loose another attack, Mamoru is instantly in front of Usagi, defending her with his body. Such actions cannot be taken lightly. Mamoru would not be subjecting his body to such painful physical torture for a girl he did not strongly care about. He is still unaware of their past relationship, all Mamoru knows is that he is willing to die for Usagi and spares no hesitation in doing so. It is only after this heart wrenching scene that Mamoru finally regains his memories and the two of them are reunited once again -- a decision willingly chosen by both of them.

It is interesting to see Mamoru interact with Usagi in the seasons prior to the R season, the manner in which he treats her and pays attention to her. This is the one chance in the anime where Mamoru is given the freedom to decide how he feels about Usagi, and rather than spend his time ignoring her or hurling biting insults at her, Mamoru treats Usagi as a girl of interest -- perhaps not initially as a romantic interest, but one can certainly recognize that Mamoru likes having Usagi around, is not put off by her overtly animated and at times childish nature. When he is happy, he likes to share it with Usagi -- a strange girl of whom he shares no connection with, not in school or even the same circle of friends. In his mind there is no obligation or relation between them, and yet he slowly becomes drawn to this rambunctious curious young girl, takes comfort in the familiarity of her companionship.

Usagi is persistent to be by his side, yet so is An, so was Rei the previous season: it is Usagi to whom Mamoru responds.

 the manga story

I do not feel that a strong as argument needs to be made as to the validity of Usagi and Mamoru's relationship in the manga as one is needed for their anime counterparts. This is due to the obvious nature of their actions and words that transpire in the manga. It is quite clear that Usagi and Mamoru hold strong emotions for one another before they ever realize the truth of their past. The topic of their alter egos is also one that does not play heavily in altering their feelings, especially for the side of Mamoru. However, I do believe that this topic would be incomplete if I did not also include an argument on the side of the manga as well.

In the manga, Usagi and Mamoru do exchange banter and insults upon first meeting, although their dealings with one another is not so disinterested in one another as it is in the anime. Mamoru finds Usagi to be quite odd and Usagi in turn remarks that Mamoru is a weird and annoying fellow. When they meet as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, Usagi, in her fourteen-year-old girl state, immediately swoons over her masked savior, and Tuxedo Kamen is also intrigued by this crybaby yet oddly brave female senshi.

Throughout their civilian interaction with one another, their verbal exchange is not as biting as it is in the anime. Most notably is that unlike in the anime, Usagi and Mamoru fall for one another in their civilian forms rather than their alter egos. Mamoru is the first to find himself attracted to Usagi and is also the first to realize that Usagi is indeed Sailor Moon. Usagi is also intrigued by Mamoru's odd physical resemblance to Tuxedo Kamen. Mamoru's affection for Usagi develops quickly and for some time he has a one-sided relationship with Usagi, caring and protecting for her as both Usagi and Sailor Moon. Usagi is not completely oblivious to Mamoru's uncanny similarities with Tuxedo Kamen, and so it is not the same as the anime, where as Usagi falls for Tuxedo Kamen without any attention towards Mamoru. She is not entirely sure, but she is not in blind adoration towards Tuxedo Kamen either.

In act 6-7, Usagi and Mamoru's relationship becomes solidified without them ever knowing of their past. After Sailor Moon has fallen unconscious, Tuxedo Kamen, who is well aware that the senshi is Usagi, brings her to his apartment. It is here that Usagi discovers that Mamoru is Tuxedo Kamen, wondering to herself how she never noticed it before. This is a beautiful scene between the two, quiet and still, delicately peaceful. In what may be considered as one of the most beautiful panels in the manga, the two of them become lost in one another, standing apart, yet undeniably drawn to one another (see header).

When Usagi begins to leave, Mamoru displays the possessive, strong side of his personality, approaching Usagi from behind as he leans in close to her, hand clasping her shoulder. He calls her Usako, softly, by her ear. For those who may be unfamiliar with Japanese culture, Mamoru has taken a very bold and forward step in calling Usagi by this nickname. In Japan, strangers are acquaintances refer to one another by their last name, with the honorific -san attached (i.e. Chiba-san). This is a formal, polite way of speaking, similar to the English Mr. or Ms. When people become friends, they attach the honoric -kun and girls are often referred to with the affectionate -chan, such as Mamoru-kun and Ami-chan. Mamoru skips over all these stages completely.

It is important to note that this scene between Usagi and Mamoru is the first actual moment where one can say they may be acknowledging one another as possible friends. Up until this point their relationship has been more of acquaintances meeting one another, even though they secretly held interest in one another. Instead of calling Usagi Usagi-chan, which would still have been a bit forward as Usagi never really gave him permission to be that familiar with her, Mamoru decides on his own to bestow upon Usagi a term of endearment special only to him: Usa-ko. This is the reason for Usagi to blush and the tremulous thump of her heartbeat. It is clear that Mamoru holds a very deep affection for Usagi, one that he longs to make clear to her.

After Usagi steps outside of his apartment, the door closed behind her, she and Mamoru share in one of their most intimate moments: each kissing an object belonging to the other, Mamoru touching his lips to Usagi's handkerchief and Usagi doing the same with Mamoru's star-shaped pocket watch. Later, they bump into one another at the park, to which Luna remarks that the two of them are "lost in their own world."

I feel that in the manga, it is without argument that Usagi and Mamoru would have continued to develop their relationship with one another regardless of learning about their love in their past life.

-- Rebecca (vomitdirt)

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