Warning: The following contains spoilers for Sailor Moon, now streaming on Hulu, and Wedding Peach.
The magical girl genre has been beloved for decades. It empowers young girls to take control of the situation, and their adorable wardrobes are endearing. Even darker magical girl series maintain a cute aesthetic. If running in heels is impressive, then fighting off monsters in a colorful getup is even more so. However, there is one outfit choice that is mildly questionable at best and incredibly inappropriate at worst.
In the magical girl anime Wedding Peach, middle school girls transform into wedding dresses and protect the world from devils who would corrupt it. This raises the question why are they in wedding dresses. Wedding dresses conjure up images of grown women participating in life-changing events. While fighting monsters might be life-changing, it doesn't carry the same weight as marriage.
This isn't an entirely isolated situation. Even Sailor Moon puts its young heroines in wedding dresses. In Episode 16, "A Girl's Dream: Usagi Becomes a Bride," Usagi and her friends enter into a wedding dress making competition, with the grand prize being a free wedding reception. On the surface, it seems to be nothing but fun and games; however, there is a darker undercurrent here. The Sailor Scouts are essentially children, and, if Usagi's grades are anything to go by, she should be focusing on her studies, not her future wedding.
At first glance, this trope is innocent. Plenty of young girls fantasize about their future soulmates and weddings, dreaming about dressing up like princesses and having a romantic day all for themselves. Brides capture the image of pristine beauty, so perhaps it can also be said that putting magical girls in bridal dresses shows the power of girlhood and femininity.
Playing dress-up is also undeniably fun. Kids pretend to be a myriad of things, and it's all in good humor. Additionally, girls should be allowed to fantasize about the partner of their dreams, as there is nothing wrong with believing in love. However, weddings are for grown adults. Dressing young girls in wedding dresses ascribes very adult traits to them. The idea of adult female characters looking like children is a divisive topic in anime, and the reverse should also give people pause.
Young girls should be free to dream, but they should never be pressured into growing up too quickly. Despite this strange trope, Wedding Peach and Sailor Moon still provide girls with strong role models who epitomize courage, hope and loyalty. Overall, these anime have a lot to offer and are much deeper than some might assume, so their influence should not be taken lightly.