Why Was Diana the Moon Fairy Cut From Sailor Moon?

The Three Lunar Guardians – Luna, Diana, and Artemis

The Three Lunar Guardians – Luna, Diana, and Artemis

One of the great mysteries surrounding the early years of Sailor Moon (and the characters developed for it) is around the character of Diana, the Moon Fairy who was to accompany Luna in her task of awakening Sailor Moon and searching for the Moon Princess. The fact that the name, Diana, was later reused for the daughter born between Luna and Artemis, and ChibiUsa’s post Luna-P companion, certainly makes matters all the more confusing when you try to look up information about her. And believe me, I certainly tried! So, what kind of character was Moon Fairy Diana originally supposed to be like, and what were the reasons for cutting her? Well, let’s find out!

Unfortunately, there’s really not much known about Diana outside of what’s written in the Materials Collection Artbook,1 so it’s hard to really go into much detail here. According to Ms. Takeuchi’s notes, she’s:

  • A cute fairy who’s mischievous, talkative, and sassy. Also a crybaby.
  • Found by the Sailor Team among the ruins of the Moon Palace, she sticks around with Luna and Usagi. She and Luna don’t get along.
  • She has pale blue wings with a light, lemon-yellow lace skirt.

What we do know is that she and Luna would have had a bit of an antagonistic relationship with each other, probably akin to the manzai comedy acts2 which are so popular in Japan. More specifically, most acts are made up of a pair of comedians playing very specific roles: the boke – who’s portrayed as light-headed, stupid, and innocent – and the tsukkomi – who’s serious, easily angered, and doesn’t put up with the nonsense from the boke.3 Here, it’d likely be Diana and Luna playing those roles, respectively.

Luna and Diana – Amateur Comedy Hour

Luna and Diana – Amateur Comedy Hour

So, why was it that Diana was cut from the story? While we’ll never really know for sure (at least without getting official word from Ms. Takeuchi, which seems unlikely this many years later), it’s most likely that she simply was too similar to Usagi. Just by reading the blurb about what her personality was meant to be like – mischievous, talkative, sassy, and a crybaby – there isn’t that too much that differs with Usagi. Also, while Ms. Takeuchi didn’t exactly steer clear from comedic moments (especially in the Codename: Sailor V manga), it seems that as the series progressed the characters had come more into their own and the idea of making Luna into a comedy-relief duo became less and less appealing.

While it’s a shame that we’ll probably never really know what kind of character the Moon Fairy Diana was meant to evolve into, ultimately I think I like her successor – ChibiUsa’s feline guardian – better than what this character would have been. Still, though, I’d love to see more material that ultimately got cut!

What Does Rei’s Name Mean?

What's in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

As anyone who’s started out on the massive undertaking of learning Japanese can probably tell you, there are three different writing systems used in Japanese: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana are nearly identical except for their usage – hiragana is used for native Japanese words, while katakana is used for words of foreign origin or for sounding things out (such as onomatopoeia). Kanji is used in conjunction with hiragana1 to add context and meaning to words or names.

The reason why this is important is that Rei’s name not only lacks any kanji associated with it (to be fair, both Usagi and Makoto’s names are typically written only in hiragana as well), but it’s also written in katakana, the system usually reserved for foreign names. Considering that we can be pretty sure that Rei’s not foreign (especially when you consider that Grandfather Hino is about as Japanese as they come, running a Shinto shrine and all), that leads us to the interesting question of why Ms. Takeuchi would choose to write Rei’s name in this manner. So, why did she?

The Mysterious Miko and her Birds

The Mysterious Miko and her Birds

While Ms. Takeuchi has never officially commented on this issue, it’s most likely that her reason for choosing this style is precisely to draw attention to Rei’s name. You see, since Japanese lacks uppercase letters and it doesn’t look so good in bold or italics, one Japanese strategy to emphasize a word or text is by writing it in katakana. For example, this strategy is often employed in video games or manga when robots are speaking. It gives the reader a sense of unease and draws attention to the text, the same way an English writer may put something IN ALL CAPS.

How does this all play out for Rei? Well, it gives the reader an impressing that something just isn’t quite right about this priestess girl and a sense of mystery to her. It also leaves it up to the reader as to which kanji they want to attribute to Rei, depending on what they believe her personality is. Though Usagi and Makoto are written in hiragana, there’s really only one meaning possible for either of their names: rabbit and truth, respectively. Rei, on the other hand, has several prime choices, all of which could be read the same. For example:

  • 玲 = translucent, brilliant, clear 2
  • 麗 = beauty, lovely3
  • 霊 = spirit, soul, ghost4

So by writing the name in katakana, Ms. Takeuchi is in a way able to attribute all of these meanings to Rei, all without actually saying any one in particular.

As one final note, it’s worth mentioning that the Chinese adaptation didn’t have the luxury of spelling out names phonetically and actually did have to choose one of the above. The localization there went for 火野麗 (the second one above),5 though it seems there are several other characters used occasionally by fans. Who knew that how you write the name could mean so much!

What Was Sailor Moon’s Original Title?

The Original Cast of Pretty Soldier Sailor V

The Original Cast of Pretty Soldier Sailor V

One of the details that’s rarely discussed (which isn’t too surprisingly, since it’s not terribly well known) is that the official title of the series that we all know and love – Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon – wasn’t actually decided until the last minute. In fact, as of November 1991 (the material printed in the January 1992 issue seems to have been compiled at this time, as noted by the date written in the lower right of her sketch – November 5, 1991), Ms. Takeuchi and the editors at Nakayoshi magazine were still referring to the series as Pretty Soldier Sailor V.1 Fortunately, that’s not all there is to the secrets that can be found in this old back issue. In fact, there’s even an interview with Ms. Takeuchi in which she discusses some details about the series, some of which weren’t even actually used!

1992’s Super Heroine Appears!
“Pretty Soldier Sailor V” (Naoko Takeuchi)

“Code Name: Sailor V,” which has been massively popular in Nakayoshi‘s spin-off magazine RunRun, has powered up and will now be serialized in Nakayoshi magazine!! Thanks for your support!

Sailor Moon's Pre-Final Design

Sailor Moon’s Pre-Final Design

On page 48 of the January 1992 issue, you can see Sailor Moon’s working design, which differs both from her final design and even from the one which appears in the Sailor Moon Materials Collection artbook. In fact, if you look closely, both of the designs seem to differ slightly, so it looks like she had several designs being worked on at once.

Sailor Moon here is lacking her tiara and broach, but mysteriously has armor-style shoulder pads and even a crown in one of them. One of the designs appears far more reality-based, at least from the one image, due to the normal earrings and more simply school uniform (and not the normal body-forming Sailor Soldier uniform the team is famous for).

 

Several more interesting points can be found in the early-stage sketch of some of the main cast proposed by Ms. Takeuchi, which appear on page 292 of the same issue, in a monthly interview column titled “Nakayoshi Manga Newspaper.” In the picture (which can be seen at the top of this article), you can see the “mysterious cat” which was likely an early design for Luna (though it could be Artemis, it seems unlikely that she wouldn’t just use his name if it were), though it’s white and appears to be fluffy. We also have an “otaku boy” who appears to be Umino, the  “main character and ally of justice – Usagi,” in addition to the Mamoru-looking character on the right: “a nice guy who’s my type… could he be Usagi’s enemy?!” And the Rei-looking character in the middle of the group? Actually, that’s Ms. Takeuchi herself! It says: “I’ve recently gotten my hair straight-permed and started prettying myself up!”

The interview itself isn’t too interesting and doesn’t really give many details, but for those who are interested, here is a rough translation of the interview between the Nakayoshi editorial staff and Ms. Takeuchi:

Editor (Ed): What will the story be about?
Naoko (N): It’ll be a really cool story that’s totally outrageous, with some romance thrown in.

Ed: What’s the main character like?
N: “Usagi” is her name. She’s a crybaby, but she has a sweet and innocent personality.

Ed: It sounds like there’ll be “transforming” involved. When will she transform?
N: When “the Earth is in peril.”

Ed: What kind of enemies will she face?
N: Incredibly beautiful women and remarkably handsome young men… at least that’s what I’m thinking!

And there you have it! The first time that Usagi’s name was announced to the public… and some more of the background on the series before all the final details had even been decided! I’d really like to know more about what all this talk of “Sailor V powered up” was meant to imply, and if there were supposed to be any direct connections between Minako and Usagi. Hopefully one of these days more information will surface!

Why Was Mamoru Changed to a University Student in the Anime?

The Epitome of Maturity

The Epitome of Maturity

The question of why Mamoru was made older in the anime has been one of those questions that has really bothered me ever since I first learned that there were — sometimes significant — differences between the two mediums. First off, it doesn’t seem to really have much of an impact on the story itself since his parents are dead in both and him living alone doesn’t need to be explained and, if anything, it’s actually detrimental. As we discussed previously, Mamoru being a university student adds certain legal questions regarding Usagi and Mamoru dating. And this didn’t just stand out to western audiences, either. A Google search for タキシード仮面 ロリコン (takishiido kamen rorikon; Tuxedo Kamen lolita complex)1 yields over 30,000 hits of various blogs, polls, and sites with Japanese fans asking (or joking) about the same thing. Even fan books and magazines dating back to 1993 were asking the same questions.

So what did the anime producers gain by changing Mamoru from a second-year high school student to a (most probably) first year university student? Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any concrete answers to these questions and these are just personal musings, but taken together with the facts, these may have played a part in the decision to raise Mamoru’s age. So, let’s take a look!

Masked Rider

Masked Rider

Tuxedo Mask Needs a Ride

This is a pretty minor point, but when you consider that despite there really being no strong plot connection or reason for Mamoru to be driving, he appears quite often in either his car or on his motorcycle (an Alfa Romeo SZ and Bimota Tesi 1D, respectively)2 throughout the series. It also seems that someone on the Sailor Moon anime staff was a fan of automobiles, since not only were Mamoru’s based on real-life vehicles, but Usagi’s family car and Nephrite’s car are also based on real models.

Mamoru Doesn’t Have Any Friends

Okay, so it may be a bit harsh to say that he doesn’t have any friends, but… let’s face it — according to the manga, Mamoru really has no social life, friends, or even acquaintances. The only possible exception would be his underclassman, Ittou Asanuma,3 though they don’t really interact.

Motoki, being a character dating back to Code Name: Sailor V, was stuck being a university student (due to Sailor Moon necessarily taking place a year later) and couldn’t be aged down, so moving Mamoru up allowed them to be classmates and to imply something of a social life for Mamoru.

Family Time with the Sailor Team

Family Time with the Sailor Team

The Audience was Older

The most significant reason for making Mamoru older may have very well been the simplest: the show, unlike the manga, was typically watched together as a family, and with older audiences. I discussed before that the manga skewed to a younger audience, but didn’t mention the details on the anime. Throughout its run, Sailor Moon aired on TV Asahi from 7:00 to 7:30pm on Saturdays4 in what is known as the “golden time” (or primetime in the West)5, capturing on average 11.6% of viewers (and 16.3% at its peak) for the time block, which was comparable with its strongest competitors.

It may seem superficial, but from the point of view of older viewers (upper junior high school, high school, and even older), a high school boy doesn’t have the same mystery to him nor the dependability of an older (university) man who’s working various jobs and has money to spare. Mamoru may live in a fancy, upscale apartment in both versions, but he seems to spend that money much more freely in the anime, which may be part of his charm.

As mentioned at the top, everything written here is just personal observations and theories, but it’s an interesting step toward getting clearer understanding of how Mamoru differs in his various incarnations. One day, I really hope this question is posed to Ms. Takeuchi, but unfortunately with the onset of the new Sailor Moon Crystal, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

What is a Moonie Code?

Usagi Flaming Noobs on the Sailor Moon ML

Usagi Flaming Noobs on the Sailor Moon ML

This is something a little bit different from what I usually cover here, but I wanted to briefly stop and take a look at not just the world in which the characters of the Sailor Moon universe live, but also how the fans had developed their own culture to show their appreciation for the series. This isn’t something I will be doing all that often, but I think it’s definitely interesting to show how the Sailor Moon fandom has evolved into what we have today. So, without further ado, I bring you Moonie Codes!

mooniecode(1.12.05)
SM:5+ F:vM9+[+]Sf+:pSCl D:sNe-Ta-:vEs X:**[*]:a197s|1d:m17sO:?d+:s[+]:o:a[+]:h+[+]:x P:a24:s6:w:f[+]:eGrBGz:hBrD:t[-]:cWh:bB+:*Li:yH?:r+|-

For those of who looking at this mass of letters and numbers and who were neither regular internet users in the late 1990s or fans of Sailor Moon, this jumble of text looks like something between a corrupt file or an encryption key. Alas, this is the kind of insanity that hardcore fans used to put in their e-mail signatures, post on message boards, put on their homepages, or even sign guestbooks with to show their level of fandom. First created by the user Tolaris1 on July 15, 1997, the Moonie Code is a play off of the Geek Code2 and was created as a quick way for you to succinctly write all of your preferences, opinions, thoughts, and beliefs on Sailor Moon in one block of text.

Luna never was good at touch-typing...

Luna never was good at touch-typing…

How does it work?

Well, in the author’s own words:

The moonie code consists of a few sections. Each section starts with a capital letter and is used to describe a part of your amazing and unique personality.

Each section, as noted above, is marked by a capital letter and then followed by a colon to help mark it from the rest. Let’s take a look at a few examples and deconstruct it a bit!

SM:5+

Means that, on a scale of one to ten, you’re between a 5 and a 6 as a Sailor Moon fan.

F:vM9+[+]Sf+:pSCl

F is for your favorites, be it senshi, villian, supporting cast, or season. v is for villians, so the code above shows that the poster likes Mistress 9 quite a bit (the + sign) and liking her more and more (the additional [+] sign) as well as Saphir. The p is for your favorite season/act, and the author of this code likes S and Classic.

I’ll save you the boredom of analyzing each part in detail, but this should give you an idea for how a Moonie Code was put together.

Okay, but why?

Back in 1997, you could finish lunch before your e-mail loaded

Back in 1997, you could finish lunch before your e-mail loaded

For anyone who grew up with Gmail and nearly unlimited e-mail storage, high speed internet, web 2/3.0, and Facebook, this is a completely valid question. The early internet, however, was a completely different beast what what we have now with far more basic forms of communication and — more importantly — far fewer images (as a matter of necessity).

Message boards, where they existed, generally did not have user images and rarely did profiles contain any bios or detailed information. The primary form of communication between fans was over e-mail and “mailing lists,” on which all registered members receive a copy of each e-mail sent in the group. This is where things like these Moonie Codes would shine, since you could communicate through your signature your love for the series in each and every e-mail or message board post without having to tell the same story over and over again.

That’s nice, but what exactly is a Moonie?

You could probably pick up on this on your own, but it’s probably worth pointing out: a “Moonie” was one of the many names being tossed around for Sailor Moon fans in the US in the late 90s. Much like Trekker vs. Trekkie, though, there were many people who didn’t care for the term (and the Moonie Code even has a section allowing you to put that information in!).

So there you go, a brief primer on the Moonie Code, and a snapshot back in time on what the Sailor Moon fandom on the internet was like in the US back in the late 90s. In case you want to know more (or want to make your own Moonie Code), I’ve copied the original Moonie Code readme file here. Enjoy!

Who Was the Inspiration Behind Ami’s Character Design?

The Bob-Hair'd Goddess

The Bob-Hair’d Goddess

It probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that with all the various female designs that Ms. Takeuchi had to come up with when designing the cast of Sailor Moon that one or two of them (or even more!) would be based on people in the real world. Much has been said in recent years about modern Japan’s obsession with their (often very young) idols, but this is not a recent trend at all – not by a long shot. The young idol who became the basis for Ami (in design, at least), Noriko Sakai,1 was only 15 when she made her debut in the magazine Momoco‘s section that would introduce pretty up-and-coming talents entitled Momoco Club (モモコクラブ), before later that year gracing television screens on a show by the same name.

Noriko Sakai (15) in a November 30, 1986 Performance on Momoco Club

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Noriko Sakai, actually. Her name came up previously in the discussion on Osa-P, Luna-P, Mina-P, and the various uses of -P in Sailor Moon. Despite being the youngest member of the Momoco Club cast, she served as an MC of sorts and introduced various segments, made the opening and closing remarks, and basically ran the show (on-screen, at least).

May 21, 1987 – Noriko Sakai on the show Gochisosama

May 21, 1987 – Noriko Sakai on the daytime talkshow Gochisosama

Going back a bit, I mentioned that the “Osa-P” name given to the jewelry shop is also a playful nickname that Ms. Takeuchi gave to her editor, Fumio Osano,2 based on the wildly popular “Nori-P” language that Noriko Sakai made up and played with at the height of her fame as a sort of character branding (however, as the Sailor Moon manga continued through the mid- and late-90’s, this nickname had evolved into “Osabu,” as a play on the sound a pig makes in Japanese – buu). It’s no secret that Ami is Mr. Osano’s favorite character, between him tweeting about her birthday3  or even mentioning his “beloved Ami” in the manga.4 The bio on his official Twitter account5 even describes him as:

武内直子先生「美少女戦士セーラームーン」の原作担当者(永遠のマーキュリー 男子)です。
Manager of the original “Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon” by Ms. Naoko Takeuchi (and eternal Mercury fanboy).

While this part is just conjecture, between the -P nickname given to him and his absolute love for the character of Ami Mizuno, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to guess that he may have been of a fan of Noriko Sakai to begin with (and the nickname was a teasing play on his obsession) and then used Noriko Sakai as the basis behind Ami’s character design, as they do bear quite a striking resemblance.

One last note: Ms. Takeuchi has also mentioned in the past6 that Ami’s origins can be found in a short-story compilation written by her – Miss Rain – which was serialized in 1993 in Nakayoshi. Take a look at it sometime, it’s a pretty interesting story!

Is There a Reason Why Sailor Moon is Set in the Eighth Grade?

Juban Junior High (Act 8 of the Television Drama)

Juban Junior High (Act 8 of the Television Drama)

When I first saw Sailor Moon (in English) back in my younger days, I remember looking at the Sailor Soldiers as piers to my age group – actually even slightly older than me. Now that I’m older, the series itself has seen its own 20th anniversary come and go, and I end up looking back on the series from the point of view of an adult, it seems a bit strange that the the super heroines who fight for love and justice and frequently save the world from the forces of evil are 14 year olds – simple eighth graders in the middle of junior high school.1 After taking a closer look, though, it may not actually be all that surprising that the series was placed in junior high school, or even more specifically in the eighth grade. But why is that?

The first thing to point out is the target audience of Nakayoshi, the magazine which carried the Sailor Moon manga. Much has been said about the widespread readership of manga in Japan, with 32.7% of respondents aged 15 to 44 in 2012 poll by NTT Communications stating that they “love manga,” and an additional 41.7% expressing that they like it.2 That being said, frequent readership among women peaks in the early 20s (44.8%) before sharply declining in the their early 30s (18.6%). The trend for men is rather different, peaking in their late 20s (46.7%) and hovering at 35% until their early 40s.

Sailor Moon's Debut in February 1992 Nakayoshi

Sailor Moon’s Debut in February 1992 Nakayoshi

However, there’s more to this story than the numbers would imply. Nakayoshi is a manga which skews relatively low for their target audience – around the third grade level of elementary school and through junior high school, judging by advertisements and content. This would make junior high school a prime setting for the Sailor Moon universe, as it adds a sense of maturity when looked at from the view of an elementary school student, still allows for the idea of budding romances, and also addresses the changes and uncertainty junior high school students themselves are facing. But when you take a look at the bios provided by Ms. Takeuchi for all five of the initial Sailor Soldiers, you find that they’re all 14 years old, and all in the eighth grade. What’s the reasoning behind that?

Once again, this takes us back to the structure of the Japanese school system and how you graduate and move on to higher education. In the sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades (the final years of elementary, junior, and high school respectively), Japanese students devote much of the year to preparing for and taking exams for junior / high school and university / college. These periods are referred to (half) jokingly as “examination hell” (受験地獄; juken jigoku) and the students as “examination students” (受験生; jukensei). In the post-bubble, highly competitive early-90s, competition was incredibly fierce and only the students with the best scores would get into the best schools.

What this means is that for the sake of storytelling, it wouldn’t make sense to set the cast of Sailor Moon in the ninth grade, as it simply wouldn’t make sense for them to have the free time that they seem to have for going to arcades, meeting up, etc. They also couldn’t be in the seventh grade, because Code Name: Sailor V – the prequel series – is set then and there wouldn’t be enough time to allow that series to run. This would also help partially explain why, as posited earlier regarding the rebirth of the Sailor Team in Sailor Moon R,  the timeline was reset. This gave Ms. Takeuchi and the anime team another year to avoid that troublesome issue of test-taking and studying.

Though I should stress that these are just my thoughts on the matter, taking into consideration the cultural norms and school systems of Japan, there’s at least some supporting evidence for this. At the very least, it’s interesting to think that there’s some logic behind the choice of having a team of eighth graders fight to save the world!