I know what you mean, I really like Chibi Usa and Helios in the comic. I think because their relationships has symbolic implications in Chibi Usa’s growth and womanhood (AND DAMMIT SHE GOT A UNICORN. THAT’S ALL I EVER WANTED AS A CHILD. And to be She-RA. BECAUSE SHE ALSO HAD A UNICORN. And a sword).
I think I’ll always ship Helios/Chibi-Usa a little more in general, because I think the ‘90s anime actually did something really great with the time/space they were given in how they had Chibi-Usa and Helios talking to each other every night, how he gave her someone to listen to her problems and they were friends before they started having feelings for each other, there was more time for them to develop that relationship. I really, really like how they played out in the ‘90s anime and that was my first exposure to Sailor Moon, so I imprinted hard on them.
And I tend to favor them a bit more in the manga, but my Chibi-Usa/Hotaru shipper self is more interested in them in the manga, they’re really painted in a way that pings as romantic to me, as well as some scenes just don’t really have a way of being read otherwise, like Hotaru’s line about how they’re both girls but they were destined to meet anyway, the way their hand-holding in Stars is contrasted directly against Usagi feeling grumpy about missing Mamoru, etc.
But I loved the symbolism of Helios/Chibi-Usa even more, I loved it for exactly the things you mention here–it was about her growing up and becoming a woman, as well as it was just so beautifully drawn. And, you know. Girls Chibi-Usa’s age are usually just starting to get interested in leaving behind the whole childish interests thing, leaving behind the idea of wanting a unicorn/pegasus and instead starting to become interested in romance, there’s the idea that you have to leave one behind for the other.
NOPE, SHE SAID, “FUCK THAT, I’M GONNA FIND A CUTE PRINCEWHO IS A UNICORN. I’M GONNA HAVE BOTH.”
Chibi-Usa is living the dream.
But man. SMC is hitting me even harder with Chibi-Usa/Hotaru, they’re so lovely and it’s coming on the heels of such intense feelings about Chibi-Usa growing up and moving beyond her childish self, it’s hitting those notes that I want for her–it’s still very much an innocent relationship, but it’s about developing romantic feelings along with the wanting to spread her wings a little, wanting to be friends with people who are her own age (or close enough, at least) and helping people now that she’s a full fledged Sailor Soldier.
The manga has all the blushing, it still reads as romantic there, but SMC makes it even more so, to where it fits naturally into what I see as Chibi-Usa’s character growth and it’s SO INCREDIBLY SWEET and yet painful because of their mutual difficulties they’ve struggled through, that I’m just.
GIVE ME ALL THE CHIBI-USA/HOTARU. I AM NOW QUEEN OF THIS SHIP.