How Did Ail and An’s Cardians Get Their Names?

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

While the whole Monster of the Day (MotD) concept is one of the more memorable aspects of the battles the Sailor Team take part in during their various adventures, it’s easy to forget that this was really more of an invention of the anime than anything else. This is, of course, all doubly true when it comes to the Cardian Arc of Sailor Moon R since… well… there was no corresponding story line in the manga.  While in Ms. Takeuchi’s manga, many of the MotD (be they youma, droids, or otherwise) actually went unnamed since they were one-off, throwaway characters, fortunately for us it seems that the anime had a penchant for creatively (generally pun-related) names. As with the youma of the Dark Kingdom, Ail and An’s Cardians don’t disappoint with their names. Let’s take a look at where they came from!

The Cardians

It probably goes without saying, but the name “Cardian” itself is a play off of both “card” and “guardian,” though the idea of them being guardians is a bit ironic when you think about the fact that they exist to help Ail and An steal energy from humans and fight against the Sailor Soldiers. However, it you look at it from Ail and An’s point of view, I suppose you could easily consider them to be guardians of sorts! Individually, though, is where it gets interesting.

  • Vampir: Due to her sucking energy (from our favorite victim, Naru!) for the Doom Tree (Makaiju), it’s pretty obvious that she got her name from the English word “vampire,” though the plant connection seems to just have been added in without any relation to the name.
    • As an interesting bit of trivia, Vampir was voiced by no other than Megumi Ogata, the same voice actress who voiced Haruka Tenoh!
  • Minotauron: Based obviously in both design and abilities on the Minotaur1 of Greek mythology. As for the “~ron” part of the name? This appears to be related to an obscure French term for a cut of beef between the neck and the shoulder, talon.2 You may also recognize this name from Talon, the owner of Lon Lon Ranch3 in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and beyond.
  • Phalion: You’ll often see the name of this character romanized with an f (rather than a ph), but considering the character’s design appears to be based on that of a sphinx (note that this is not the Sphinx, but a sphinx – a monster in Greek mythology said to be made up of a lion’s body and a female head)4 I think that the beginning part of the name, the “Pha / Fa,” is actually a word play with Pharaoh (which is written similarly in Japanese), hence the spelling.
  • Hell Ant: This is one of those Cardians that, to an English speaker, is pretty straight forward. She’s basically an ant. From hell.
  • Leshy: This is another name that you’re likely to see written differently on the web, usually as “Reci.” The Japanese spelling is an exact match with the Japanese spelling for Leshy,5 a spirit of the woods from Russian fairy tales. Considering the mythological basis for the rest of the characters and that she attacks during cherry blossom season (and from a tree, no less), this seems like a more proper connection.
  • Gigaros: The name is a play on both the Greek word giga– meaning huge6 and the Japanese name for Icarus.7
    • According to an interview with Takuya Igarashi,8, an episode director for Sailor Moon R, this was actually the first Cardian designed.9
  • Amaderasu: Continuing our mythological theme, this time the reference goes back into Japanese mythology, as this monster is pretty clearly named after Amaterasu,10 one of the first gods in the Shinto religion and the goddess of the sun. Her name may also be a play off of Amadeus, since they’re spelled so similarly in Japanese.
  • Seiren: This Cardian’s name is a pretty clear connection to the Siren11 of Greek mythology. The separt of the name, though, may be a pun in reference to the Japanese kanji for “voice” – 声 – which can be read as sei.
  • Utonberino: One of those names that absolutely doesn’t localize well, this is the Japanese word for a traditional boxed lunch, 海苔弁当 (noribentou; nori boxed lunch)12 written backwards. This is obviously where the character design comes from. It’s not exactly apparent in English, but when you break it up as no-ri be-n-to-u and u-to-n-be ri-no, you can see it easier.
  • Bipierrot: Named after pierrot,13 a mime of sorts in traditional French theater and the Japanese word for clown, the connection is pretty obvious. As for where the bi part of the name comes from, my best guess is that it’s the same as the one used in used in Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン; bishoujo senshi se-ra-mu-n), since bi here means “pretty” or “beautiful” and often is used for female-related words.
    • According to an interview with Noriyo Sasaki,14 an episode director, the original inspiration for Bipierrot was Doink the Clown,15 a WWF wrestler popular at the time.16
  • Amanju: Once again we go back to Japanese folklore for inspiration, this time to the amanojaku,17 a demon which is said to provoke one’s darkest desires. This would explain the connection with reading everyone’s minds, though judging by the horns and all, the design seems to be based off of a standard Japanese oni.18
  • Yamandakka: While the appearance is obvious – an Asura19 from Buddhist mythology – the basis for her name is a bit of a mystery to me. The best possible answer I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s a play on the Japanese term for Asura which are depicted with three faces and six arms, a design known as 三面六臂 (sanmenroppi).20 If you were to yaman could be an altered reading of 四面 (four faces) and 足花 (legs, flower; read as da and ka respectively).
The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

And there you have it! Once again, the various animators, directors, and all the staff who worked on the Sailor Moon anime don’t disappoint when it comes to making creative and interesting character names. Though some of them are a bit obvious to native English speakers, like the Ail, An, and Fiore connections, it’s nice to see all of the different mythologies tied together. And who would have known that a wrestling star would be the inspiration for a character!

Could Ami Really Be Allergic to Love Letters?

Allergic to Love? Oh REALLY?

Allergic to Love? Oh REALLY?

One of the interesting criticisms I often see about the Sailor Moon series is the seemingly ridiculous fact that Ami breaks out into hives simply be being in the presence of a love letter.1 This, as the fans say, is absolutely unrealistic. Putting aside for a second that we’re talking about a series in which cats talk, junior high school girls live alone, and 14 year olds fight the forces of evil, this seemed like something that might be worth investigating. After all, not only am I not a stranger to researching the real life implications of the Sailor Moon universe, that’s the whole point of this blog!

First off, it’s important to note one small distinction: Ami is not allergic to love letters or even love in general. According to the manga:2


“Well, I kinda broke out into hives this morning…”
“I guess the stress is building up.”

Poor Ami...

Poor Ami…

You see, while there are a wide variety of causes for the onset of hives (and I’m by no means a medical doctor!), it’s pretty clear here that what Ami is suffering from is a stress-induced case of hives known as psychogenic urticaria, or psychogenic hives.3 This essentially means that the cause of the outbreak has nothing to do with any external causes, but is purely related to a stress reaction within the body. This is more common in adults than children,4 though I think it’s safe to say that Ami is relatively mature for her age.

There have also been studies showing that up to 80% of cases of hives are unexplained and are attributed to stress disorders,5 and another study done in Turkey has shown that those with chronic cases of hives have a higher than average rate of suffering from medical disorders such as depression, OCD, and more.6

So the good news (… bad news?) for Ami here is that she could very well be having a completely normal reaction to the sudden onset of stress and anxiety brought on by receiving a love letter, so it’s not completely unrealistic as people may say online.

One more thing!

One more thing!

One final thing to note is that many people also argue that this is inconsistent due to Ami’s completely normal behavior when going on a date with Ryo Urawa in season one.7 However, as we established that this is likely related to Ami’s stress/anxiety toward the situation, if you feel completely comfortable or natural, then you would obviously not have an outbreak. Yet another nail in the “allergic to love” coffin.8

So anyway, while this definitely isn’t to say that everything in the world of Sailor Moon is entirely grounded in reality, there are definitely a lot of myths about the characters (like Ami’s 300 IQ score!) that get misrepresented and make things seem even more outrageous than they really are. Let’s give Ms. Takeuchi a little more credit!

Who Was the Original Tuxedo Mask?

The Fiend With Twenty Faces (1977)

The Fiend With Twenty Faces (1977)

While the idea of a masked hero coming to save the day isn’t exactly novel or unique, nor was Sailor Moon the first media in which one appeared, one thing that always did seem special about Tuxedo Mask was that he dressed up in such a fancy outfit while he did it. In some odd way, it seems oddly fitting for a high school/college student to dress in a suit and cape while throwing roses to save sailor-suited soldiers of justice. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that there’s actually quite a bit of history to the creation of the character of Tuxedo Mask, from a popular Japanese character based on the Japanese adaptation of a French story, and has connections going back nearly one hundred years, and even has overlaps with the Sherlock Holme franchise. So who was the source of inspiration for Tuxedo Mask, and where did Ms. Takeuchi pick up the basis for his design?

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How Different Was the Pacing of the Sailor Moon Anime and Manga?

The Sailor Soldiers and Their Princess

The Sailor Soldiers and Their Princess

Taking into consideration that the manga was serialized in Nakayoshi magazine at a rate of one act per month1 while the anime needed to consistently churn out episodes on a weekly basis, it’s plain to see that there would be definite pacing differences between the two. What’s interesting, though, is that when you take the time to actually look at the data, the story flow of the Sailor Moon anime and manga are actually more similar than you would assume. A word of warning: we’re going to be looking at a lot of numbers today!

First off, we need to establish our points of comparison. We know that the manga ran for 52 acts and the anime for 200 episodes. For the sake of a fair comparison, though, I believe we need to remove the Cardian Arc (as much as I may like it) from the Sailor Moon R anime and also the beginning of Sailor Stars since it was a continuation of the Nehelenia story line. We also will not be counting the side stories (picture diaries, etc.) in the manga. Once you do that, here is how the numbers break down:

Number of Episodes and Acts by Story Arc
Story Arc Episodes Acts Eps/Acts
Dark Kingdom 46 13 3.5
Black Moon 30 10 3.0
Death Busters 38 10 3.8
Dead Moon 39 9 4.3
Sailor Stars 26 10 2.6
Total 179 52 3.4
Chart by Visualizer

As we can see, though it differed on a season-by-season basis, on average the anime had to make 3.4 episodes per act in the original manga – and that makes sense, considering they needed to track how the manga developed on a roughly monthly basis. But what does this mean for the actual story progression, and how did they differ due to this need to add episodes? Interestingly enough, it didn’t have as much on an impact as I would have thought, though the anime did choose to pad out the story in interesting ways (and even shorten certain story arcs, it seems).

In order to answer this question, I think the most clear-cut way is to look at important story events and compare how early/late they occurred and how much attention certain elements were given as a part of the total story arc. Let’s get started!

Dark Kingdom

Chart by Visualizer

As you can see here, this shows how much the series had progressed by the time the character was introduced (in percentages). For example, Ami appeared in Act 2 of the manga and episode 8 of the anime. This works out to 15% and 17% of the way through the plot, respectively, and is actually pretty close. Rei (at act 3 and episode 10, 23% and 22% respectively) is also pretty close in the manga and anime. Makoto and Minako, however, are a different story. It seems that the anime staff wanted to take a break from introducing new characters for a bit and held back for quite a while on Makoto’s introduction, probably until they were ready to bring in the Rainbow Crystal story line.

Speaking of which, you can also see that there was a great amount of difference in how the time between the Four Kings and the end-game (or with Queen Beryl as the main villain) was split up in the manga and the anime.2 First, the manga:

Chart by Visualizer

Interestingly enough, an equal (or near-equal) amount of attention was given to each of the main villains in the manga, including the end with the drawn-out battle against Queen Beryl/Metalia. How did things look in the anime, then?

Chart by Visualizer

And… wow. Jadeite and Kunzite have around the same respective shares, but I was surprised to see that Nephrite and Zoisite actually were around for nearly as long as the rest. Of course, the padding added to them greatly impacted the post-Kunzite part of the story, which was reduced to a paltry two episodes.

Overall, I think what I learned by taking a look at the actual numbers of the two tellings of the Dark Kingdom arc was that they’re surprisingly more similar than I had thought, when you take into account the volume differences. You could probably make other observations depending on how fine-toothed of a comb you want to use looking at the data (amount of times the Sailor Soldiers fight, number of days passing, side-character interactions, etc.), but I think this makes an informative visualization.

Unfortunately, this article has gone on a bit long, so we’ll have to save the analyses for the rest of the story arcs until the next part. What other interesting differences are waiting to be discussed, I wonder…?

Why Does Fiore Look So Much Like Ail and An?

Long Lost Siblings, Maybe? (left to right: Ail, Fiore, An)

Long Lost Siblings, Maybe? (left to right: Ail, Fiore, An)

The first time anyone sees the Sailor Moon R movie, I’m pretty sure one of the things to pop into their head is that, you know, the villain of the movie looks an awful lot like those villains, Ail and An, who appeared in the Cardian Arc of the anime. Surprisingly, though, despite the fact that it’s pretty obvious and seems like a consistency issue you’d like to address, absolutely none of the Sailor Soldiers (or even Fiore himself) address this issue. As silly as it sounds, this has been nagging at me for years and I finally decided to take a look into it.

Ail & An

Ail & An

One of the things that makes it much more difficult to use the Sailor Moon anime as a source when trying to pin down its various mysteries is the fact that you can never quite be sure what parts of the story are meant to be canon (i.e., fit into the larger context of the story and “actually happened”) and what events are meant to be side stories. Making matters worse, the anime wasn’t even too concerned about internal consistency for events that were clearly canon, like Sailor Pluto’s death at the end of Sailor Moon S and her casual reappearance in the SuperS movie and in the Stars anime, as if nothing had happened.

Typically, though, I think it’s safe to say that the Sailor Moon movies are non-canon, especially since the Sailor Team doesn’t seem too particularly concerned with other enemies at the time (the Black Moon Family is never mentioned in the R movie, etc.) and at the beginning of each season and the arrival of the next threat, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t been fighting any other enemies in the mean-time. That said, the Cardian Arc itself could be considered non-canon, which leaves us with a possible double-non-canon interesting plot issue.

Researching this issue lead me to a source I’ve gone to before to answer series canon questions; the December 1993 edition of Animage magazine1 which featured an interview on page 28 with the Sailor Moon R series (and movie) director, Kunihiro Ikuhara2 as a part of the promotion machine for the then-upcoming Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie.3 Much to my surprise, he actually addresses this question head on:


“As you can tell by looking at the enemy, this story is a renewal of the Ail and An arc. Of course, the angle we’re telling [the story from] is completely different.”

“Renewal,” when used like this in Japanese, would be akin to a remake in the West, with the implication that something has been updated and redone better than before, as with a shop being renewed, or the re-release shinsouban manga which was referred to as the “Renewal Edition.”4

Fiore also can't believe the answer is so simple...

Fiore also can’t believe the answer is so simple…

So after all these years of wondering if they’re from the same planet, if they were siblings, or if maybe all aliens outside of the Sol system looked that way (though this was disproved in Stars), it turns out the answer is really quite simple: the movie is taking the basic premise of the Cardian Arc and is a retelling, using story elements from the Black Moon Family (primarily ChibiUsa’s existence) to flesh out the story.

I’m happy to have this mystery finally put to rest, though to be honest a part of me does wish that there was a bit more to the story. I’ve always been a fan of the Cardian Arc and the characters appearing therein, so it would have been nice to see the story expanded upon rather than re-written. But it is good to know that Mr. Ikuhara did address the issue!

Why Is Makoto Always Chasing After Men?

On a Constant Quest for Love

On a Constant Quest for Love

It’s always been interesting to me just how far Ms. Takeuchi went to take various related sources and pool them all together when creating the designs and personalities for each of the Sailor Soldiers. I feel that this is much more obvious in the original, so-called “inner” soldiers (even if that name is a bit of a misnomer, considering Jupiter is most certainly an “outer” planet),1 though planetary and mythological inspiration can still be seen here and there in the colors and designs of the outer soldiers. For example, Usagi is smaller than the rest of the cast because the moon is itself small while, on the other end of the spectrum, Makoto is the tallest of the group. Taking a look at mythology, we have the obvious Selene and Endymion connection and of course, the Minako / Venus / Aphrodite “goddess of love” inspiration. But what about Makoto? What role does her unrequited love for her ex-crush (and subsequent chasing of other men reminding her thereof!) does her role as the soldier of Jupiter play?

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Did Moonlight Knight Make a Mistake in French?

The Moonlight Night... er.. Knight!

The Moonlight Night… er.. Knight!

Moonlight Knight is a bit of an oddball character in the Sailor Moon anime, as he’s one of the few “hero” characters that exist only in the anime with no manga connections at all. The whole Cardian Arc1 was completely made up for the anime only, supposedly to give Ms. Takeuchi a chance to prepare her next story arc while the anime rushed ahead of her, though I’ve always suspected that the true purpose of this was to give them a sort of teaser for the upcoming Sailor Moon R movie. That, however, is a story for another time. What we’re here to look at is: what’s with Moonlight Knight’s use of French?

* Not a subtitling error

* Not a subtitling error

Possibly even more than Tuxedo Mask himself, Moonlight Knight was fond of long, dramatic speeches.2 More interesting to me, though, is what he said when he departed. Despite his strong Arabian design, Moonlight Knight always leaves the Sailor Team with a fancy “adieu.” What’s noteworthy about this is that it appears to have been a mistake by the anime production staff, directly translating his さようなら (sayounara; good bye) into something more fancy-sounding without looking into the cultural context. The issue here is that adieu implies that you don’t believe that you will see the other party again (at least not soon), and that you are saying good bye with a sense of finality. What he should have said was au revoir, which is used when you do believe that you will be crossing paths in the near future.3

While I would like to say that there was some sort of deeper meaning to this word choice and over-analyze the issue, I’m afraid that this is pretty much clearly a case of not having done the appropriate cultural research. If I were to read into the issue, however, I would say that you could make the assertion that this was Moonlight Knight’s way of expressing that he hoped he and Mamoru would soon re-join (i.e., Mamoru’s physical / human form and his sense of duty to protect the Sailor Soldiers) and was bidding them farewell. Put another way, by implying he would see them again would suggest that Moonlight Knight did not intend to return to Mamoru and resume his activities in the form of Tuxedo Mask.

Of course, this is probably looking way too into it, but it’s at least an interesting tidbit, if nothing else! Since Mamoru is a university student in the anime, and many university students are required to learn a second foreign language (other than English), it’s entirely plausible that he did study some French. You’re pretty clever, Mamoru!