Why Did the Outer Senshi Use Lipstick in Their Transformations?

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

This is yet another one of those questions that I’ve been wondering about for a long time that could either be something as simple as a design choice made up by either the animation staff or Ms. Takeuchi herself, or might actually have some sort of deeper meaning behind it. After all, the staff behind the Sailor Moon anime didn’t hesitate to make some pretty far-reaching, if arbitrary, decisions to alter characters personalities. However, for the most part, most of their changes were for the sake of adding in additional meaning to the anime as references for astute fans.

So why is it that, while every one of the Sailor Soldiers either has their nails painted during their transformation (or showcases their painted nails during when transforming into their Super forms), the adding of lipstick is a characteristic unique to the Outer Sailor Soldiers. Making things all the more interesting is that Sailor Saturn is excluded from this quirk, and her transformation clearly showcases her magical manicure.

Sailor Moon's Magical Manicure

Sailor Moon’s Magical Manicure

As best as I can determine, this design choice was most likely made in consideration of the target audience of the anime, and what is actually considered “adult” to them. After having watched, read, and played Sailor Moon in its myriad of forms, it’s easy to forget that the magical items they use are real-world items and that their “Make Up” transformation phrase is not only a nifty thing to shout, but also directly references the transformations these young girls are making into sailor-suited heroines. And in this case, it also is referencing real-world make-up.

According to a 2014 web survey conducted by My Navi Woman1 on women’s age when they first wore lipstick, the number one response was 18 years old, at 20.3%. Though the second most common response, 12 or younger, was at 19.8%, this actually is in the minority when you calculate the rest of the ages together. Taken as a whole, >60% of women responded that they were either 16 years or older when they first used lipstick. The same age range, incidentally, as Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna.

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

But for those numbers to be meaningful, we need to know about Japanese manicure trends. Fortunately, Benesse did a survey in 20112 with Japanese parents on just that. As early as 6 years old, 44.1% and 26.5% of girls were reported to being either interested in or actually painting their nails, respectively. Though the painting of nails is still forbidden in the vast majority of Japanese schools – even through high school! – it nicely highlights the point on what kind of makeup girls Usagi’s age and younger have in mind.

While this is by no means any sort of definitive proof of why the three talisman-bearing Sailor Soldiers all have lipstick applied when they transform, I think it does at least give an interesting insight into Japanese attitudes toward makeup which may differ from those in the West.

If I were to wager a guess, I would say that the point in doing it this way was to highlight the age difference between the new and mysterious Sailor Soldiers being introduced in the Death Busters Arc and to give them an added sense of maturity. It also explains why Hotaru goes along with the others in just having her nails painted. What do you think about all this? Do you think there was any sort of deeper meaning behind it, or just a stylistic choice of the animators?


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8 comments

  • Once again, an interesting article. I was surprised that Saturn’s transformation from the video game didn’t include lipstick… going back and looking at it again, I was fooled by all of the fan-made transformations that add extra scenes. It turns out that many of them add a lipstick effect so that she matches the others… but that wasn’t there in the original!

    • At first I thought it was a completely Outer Senshi thing and of course Saturn also has her lipstick done, but upon watching through it again (…and again), I was surprised to see that she goes back to the traditional manicure. It definitely lends credence to the theory that it’s an age-related thing!

      Still, though, I really wish that the animators had ‘upgraded’ (so to speak) the Inner Senshi to also do their lipstick as they got older, to show them starting to mature. Maybe in their Super forms? Eternal Sailor Moon?

  • Personally I always wondered why the outer Senshi’s henshin wands were referred to as “lip rods” but the inner Senshi’s were never called “fingernail rods.” 🙂 Why not just henshin wands all the way around?

    • I wonder if it’s related to the fact that the Inner Senshi were, in the beginning at least, using henshin “pens” (literally the writing implements), so I wonder if the Outer Senshi were supposed to be using lipstick tubes to henshin? It would explain why the emphasis was made during the transformation, but it is a bit odd…

  • In Cygnus And In Health

    It always amused me how Setsuna already had it before she transforms. Seems a bit redundant.

    Another thing worth noting is that whenever Venus uses her “love and beauty shock” in the anime, the stock footage briefly shows her with lipstick.

    • Oh, you’re right! I never noticed before, but I guess it kinda makes sense if you think about it in an abstract/super power kind of way. The “lipstick” is the power which charges up into the heart and then gets thrown out, maybe? Still really interesting, though.

      And yeah, the whole Setsuna “magic lipstick on top of… well… lipstick” seemed kinda redundant. I mean, at least for her henshin maybe you could just not color her lips?

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  • Sailor Crystal Moon

    Not sure if anybody else noticed it, but in the old anime, we only see adults wearing lipstick (though Usagi is drawn wearing it in some episodes). It feels like lipstick is the sign of maturity in the anime.

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