All photos by Rebecca Smeyne
Back in October, I dropped into a cosplay party at a Brooklyn dive bar where kids in Mishka jerseys and Hello Kitty stickers were thrashing around to a mix of jungle and J-core. I jokingly called it "nu-kawaii" (kawaii being the Japanese word for "cute"), because the scene seemed notably different from what you usually find at anime-obsessed functions. Rather than looking like they came straight from a cosplay convention, nu-kawaii kids borrow equally from Japanese culture as they do from street wear and post-Internet aesthetics; like if pastel goths got together with sweet Lolitas and made PC Music-inspired club tracks to post on Tumblr, giggling the entire way.
Last weekend, the same scene converged at the world's first official International Sailor Moon Day afterparty, which went down at a converted warehouse space in Brooklyn fittingly called Villain. For the uninitiated, Sailor Moon is an iconic Japanese anime about a teenage fighter and her posse who battle to defend the galaxy. (That summary is woefully inept, but that's the gist of it.)
Although the series started in the early 90s, it remains insanely popular—not just amongst diehard anime fans and younger kids, but within broader art and fashion circles, to whom Sailor Moon's emphasis on cute outfits, makeup, hair, and accessories like crystals and bowties, represent a dress-up dream. The costumes on parade proved exactly how Sailor Moon reaches across both sides of the cultural aisle.
As a friend put it, "you can tell who actually watches the anime, and who just likes the aesthetics."
The afterparty was thrown by Marcella Zimmerman and Bojana Djogo, and its hosts were a mixture of fashion stylists, photographers and club kids like Miyako Bellizzi, Nicky Ottav, Aaron Kolfage, Jason Schwartz, and Veronica So—founder of a "fashionable futurist" zine called L_A_N.
On stage, Meesh—who made her name as the vocalist on Anamanaguchi's infuriatingly catchy "Pop It"—sang robotically next to an anonymous DJ playing manically twisted rave synths, channeling the sugary flavors of PC Music's plastic pop star QT so hard I did a double take. Also that evening, local DJ DV-i incorporated Sailor Moon special effects into his set of melodic, hypnagogic pop, while rising artist Effie Liu performed her playful, hip-hop-tinged pop in a signature pink wig.
The party wound down by 1 AM as the last stragglers of the so-called "commoonity" retreated into the humid summer night. Whether its because of our fascination with Japanese pop culture, never-ending youth, magical girls, or just adorable costumes, the night was ample proof that America's obsession with Sailor Moon will never die.
Send your Sailor Moon stickers to Michelle Lhooq and follow her on Twitter