As much as I would like to believe in a doting dad King Endymion, isn't that contradicted in the anime when Chibiusa is whole-heartedly convinced that her parents don't care about her? That Pluto is the only one who even likes her? And in the new Sera Myu, if I remember correctly, she feels that she's rejected by everyone, not just some dumb kids. That doesn't sound like a child who grew up with loving parents by her side. She just sounds so lonely.
That is Chibi Usa’s perception, and I think it’s pretty clear in both the anime and manga (especially the anime, honestly) that Chibi Usa is a flawed narrator on that front.
For example, look at the memories we’re shown in the anime to illustrate the idea that Chibi Usa was lonely. There is the one where everyone mysteriously was too busy to celebrate her birthday. Then it turns out they were planning to surprise her with her parents returning from their trip early to celebrate it. Then there’s the one when she falls down in the rain and her parents did not immediately pick her up. In her mind, they were coldly refusing to help her. In reality, it turns out they were encouraging her to pick herself up (and I’m no parent, but it seems like pretty good parenting to me, not to race to pick up your toddler every single time she falls).
I think there’s a lot of factors in Chibi Usa’s loneliness growing up.
- Her parents are busy all the time. They’re king and queen of the world, after all. There’s a reason most politicians and monarchs employ full-time nannies. The most loving parent can seem distant and cold if their attention is divided because of their job.
- She’s an only child.
- She’s the one and only child of the king and queen of the world. Think how much scrutiny she must have been under from the moment she was born. Imagine being a little kid seeing your own face on the tabloids all the time, for absolutely no reason other than who your parents are. Imagine how impossible it would be to feel normal.
- Kids were mean to her, probably because of that aforementioned scrutiny.
- She felt like she could never live up to her mother’s legacy, and clearly did not know how to communicate her fears to her parents.
- Her fears turned into suppression of her own growth and magical powers, keeping her a child forever.
- It turned into this negative feedback loop where her own fears of failure stunted her growth, but the lack of growth made her feel like a bigger failure and made people scrutinize her even more, so she became trapped in a cycle she couldn’t escape.
The first point is one that I relate to a lot. I have a really loving mother, someone who a lot of my friends and cousins have said they love and wish they had as a mom, but there was a point in my life when I was still desperately lonely. Because she was working long hours at the same time that kids at school were being bullies. Feeling alone at school and then coming home to an empty house really did make me feel rejected by everyone, even though that was objectively not true. That fact that she cared for me and supported me just… wasn’t enough to fix the situation. It was too big for her.
But leaving aside her parents for a moment, even if they were actually cold and distant, what about everyone else? What about the other senshi? What about Diana, who was already there in the manga?
Somehow Chibi Usa managed to be sad even with Diana in her life. You can make me believe that somehow every one of the senshi, including Usagi Biggest-Heart-in-the-Universe Tsukino, became cold and seemingly heartless, but you cannot tell me that Diana rejected Chibi Usa a single time in her entire kitten life.
So what made Pluto special, in a way that her parents and the other senshi and Diana could not be? Other than the fact that Pluto is wonderful and perfect and also incredibly lonely, Pluto has nothing to do with the world that Chibi Usa feels pressured by. Where Chibi Usa’s parents and even the other senshi must represent the world she feels inadequate at accessing, Pluto is literally outside of it all. Being with Pluto was an escape from a reality in which she is a princess living in the shadow of an immortal queen.
But let’s go back to the real issue Chibi Usa had: feeling overshadowed by Neo Queen Serenity, and the need to live up to her legacy. I feel like this is the main isolating force for her. And it is largely internal. Because look at what happens when Venus questions how Chibi Usa can take over as queen if she doesn’t have any powers.
King Endymion is not here for that kind of talk. He shuts that line of questioning down hard. It doesn’t matter that his daughter has been a powerless child for 900 years now, he still believes in her.
And look at how Neo Queen Serenity reacts to the same issue.
Chibi Usa thought she was not good enough, but her parents have never thought that. It was entirely her own insecurities, which she kept too bottled up for anybody to help her deal with them.
And we know that that must be the source of her problems, because from this point on, Chibi Usa is so much happier. She never indicates that Crystal Tokyo is a sad place for her to be anymore. The only time those same insecurities flare up again? Is when she feels overshadowed by Sailor Moon in the present. But she works through it and becomes both a happier person and a better soldier for it.
Long story short, knowing who Usagi and Mamoru are, knowing who Chibi Usa becomes after that first arc, knowing how easily childhood memories can be clouded, I see no reason to believe that Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion are bad parents. If they were, then there was no resolution when Chibi Usa became Sailor Chibi Moon, and all that character development should have been directed towards resolution with them instead of her own personal growth.