Sailor Moon Day Austin offers opportunities to show love for series

Lisette Oler

Sewing machine unplugged and fabric swatches everywhere, Sarah Blackman closed the door on her craft room as exhaustion rolled over her body. Her Super Sailor Moon cosplay, or character-based costume, was finally finished.

For Blackman, the moment brought a sense of accomplishment because she had learned how to work with stretchy fabrics and resin casting. More importantly, she’d moved one step closer to imitating a character she adores.

“Sailor Moon,” an anime series from Japan, has held appeal for international audiences for decades. To celebrate the third annual International Sailor Moon Day on August 5, POMEgranate Magazine will host “Sailor Moon”- themed crafts, vendors and even a cosplay contest at The Highball.

Blackman said the enduring popularity of Sailor Moon is because of the characters.

“I’m a giant crybaby and always a klutz. To see a character like that, but still face her fears and succeed was always really encouraging to me,” Blackman said. “No matter who your favorite character is, you find something you can relate to.”

Even different iterations of the same character pose a challenge when it comes to both sewing and skill, Blackman said. Her goal costume, for example, was one that she first made with the help of her grandmother after she started watching the show in seventh grade.

“It was really cheap fabric, ribbon on the hem and paper to make the sleeves — it was ghastly,” Blackman said. “That was my encouragement to make (the new version) good.”

When Blackman decided to get into cosplay more seriously in 2013, her excitement began to rub off on her then-boyfriend (now husband), Jeff Blackman.

“He was watching all the interactions with the costumers and watching them get pictures taken,” Sarah Blackman said. “He’s very confident in himself and he was like ‘I want to wear a costume. I want my picture taken.’”

The two continued to go to conventions and create costumes, with Jeff Blackman eventually proposing during a cosplay photoshoot in 2015. Sarah Blackman said it’s fun to research materials and techniques together and it always helps to have another person to look at the project.

“Sometimes you get into your project and you’ve been looking at it for so long it becomes blurry to you,” Blackman said.

Although Blackman won the ‘Best in Show’ award for the event in 2015, she said she appreciates all the help she can get — especially when judges like Mia Moore believe the quality of contestants continues to be excellent each year.  Moore said she always looks for attention to detail and legibility, or the ability to recognize the character easily, when evaluating cosplays for the contest.

“Both years we’ve had some awesome entries and I’m expecting that to keep up for this year as well,” Moore said. “People are always bringing their creativity.”

The opportunity for “Sailor Moon” fans to gather around the series they love also helps fans become vendors at the celebration. Katherine Kuehne, an illustrator, will be selling her “Sailor Moon” prints for the first time this year.

“(I want to) make some sales and make other people happy, I guess those are my only real goals,” Kuehne said. “I’m really just happy being part of Sailor Moon Day since I really love ‘Sailor Moon.’”

Whether through cosplay or art, fans continue to show their love for “Sailor Moon.” Moore said the time devoted to making anything for a show can lead to conversations with others, but it is also a way to love the series even more.

“Cosplays are a love letter to your fandom,” Moore said. “It’s something everyone can do.”