You know Robot Unicorn Attack? Like that!
February 23, 2012 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Is there a name for the kind of aesthetic you find in Sailor Moon, the Sixth Doctor's TV intro, and Robot Unicorn Attack? What's the history of the whole magical-sparkles-in-space thing, and where can I find more of it?

I love space, and magic, and I've long-loved the kind of girly, spacey aesthetic I saw on shows like Rainbow Brite growing up--you know, where girls and space boys ride magical rainbows and robot horses into the sky. It's the kind of look you find in Spectra Dolls and in the game Robot Unicorn Attack. I'm curious about the origins of this aesthetic, as they seem really rooted in a particular time and was wondering if there's a name for it (it seems related to disco, maybe?). I'd also love to know where I can find meatier examples of it. I know of a few--Sailor Moon is pretty great, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet had a decent space unicorn--but I'm especially curious as to whether this aesthetic crossed over into any movies, TV shows, or books for adult or older teen audiences.

Sorry if this is a bit imprecise. I've been trying to figure out for months how to formulate this question in a way that's not just "rainbows! space! and sparkles! and stuff!"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like that's a very late 70's or early 80's videogame colors aesthetic....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:31 PM on February 23, 2012

You need to fall into the crazy awesome wonderland that is Magical Girls : Mahou Shoujo / Majokko, and much shoujo anime/manga.PINK SPARKLES AND RAINBOWS AND EVERYWHERE.

Typing from my phone; more specific recs when I'm back on computer!
posted by nicebookrack at 8:32 PM on February 23, 2012

posted by empath at 8:44 PM on February 23, 2012

Dude, you forgot She-Ra!

It's an aesthetic that is very much of its time. Pretty much everything for girls in the eighties had rainbows, unicorns, and/or sparklies. Combine them all, and you couldn't lose. (Frankly, in retrospect, it's a surprising there weren't more butterflies in the mix.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 PM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: Ah, sorry. I'm not just talking about the sparkles but the sci-fi/space-age sparkly aesthetic specifically.

nicebookrack: specific suggestions would be awesome! I love both Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon but otherwise I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to most shoujo.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:01 PM on February 23, 2012

Best answer: OK OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD recs of varying levels of sparkles VS space, but high levels of awesome:

CLAMP FOREVER, they are INSANE and like to stab out people's eyes and do massive incestuous time travel snarls, but nobody does flower-petaled crazy awesome like CLAMP flower-petaled crazy awesome. You know Cardcaptor Sakura; for more space try Clover and Magic Knight Rayearth. (And for more Cardcaptor Sakura-flavored mindfuck, try Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle + xxxHOLic.)

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: no-holds-barred giant robots smashing it out for great justice, only for "giant robots" read "kickass girls in elaborate dresses with huge shoulderpads"

Rocket Girls: NEEDS MORE PINK (but has plenty of space!)

Revolutionary Girl Utena: less space, more roooooses. But there is an inverted castle in the sky. And swordfights! And complex deconstructions of Magical Girl / fairytale motifs! And lesbians! And they ride random flying horses in the opening!

Princess Tutu: No space battles, but compensates by 100% purified GIRLAWESOME. Are you badass enough to handle a fairytale ballerina princess superhero duck who dance-battles anteaters, lamps, and narrative causality with the power of Love+Ballet+Metafiction? Chuck Norris is not badass enough. Dance-battle music video!
posted by nicebookrack at 9:58 PM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: p.s. Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld and now I'm going to stop obsessively combing my links for the night
posted by nicebookrack at 10:07 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Was just going to suggest Princess Tutu and Revolutionary Girl Utena. You might also dig Heavy Metal, Wizards, Ulysses 31, WINX, and WITCH

You might also like Kamikaze Girls, the live action Sailor Moon, and The Secrets of the Unicorn Queen, which is an AMAZING YA series kinda like The Adventures of a Connecticut Yankee in King ARthur's Court, only there are UNICORNS, true love, and REAL MAGIC.
posted by spunweb at 10:52 PM on February 23, 2012

There's the "Pretty Cure" franchise. Idols by day, super-heroines by night! Defending the earth between stage appearances!

Pretty Cure had an amazing number of sequels, with varying changes in cast.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:55 PM on February 23, 2012

The cover art for games made by Epyx Software used the 'rainbow lasers on black' thing to good effect.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:25 PM on February 23, 2012

OK one more
Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Here's our adorable cast!

Things you might not guess from that picture:
1) it's a horror series
2) it's science fiction, not fantasy

and now seriously to bed with me
posted by nicebookrack at 11:28 PM on February 23, 2012

Also: Gennerkrigg Court:
posted by spunweb at 10:32 AM on February 24, 2012

Best answer: A very early example:
She was clad in flowing, fluffy robes of soft material that reminded Dorothy of woven cobwebs, only it was colored in soft tintings of violet, rose, topaz, olive, azure, and white, mingled together most harmoniously in stripes which melted one into the other with soft blendings. Her hair was like spun gold and floated around her in a cloud, no strand being fastened or confined by either pin or ornament or ribbon.
From the introduction of Polychrome, the Rainbow's daughter, in Baum's Road to Oz (1909).
posted by Iridic at 3:03 PM on February 24, 2012

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