Is Sailor Saturn a Member of the Outer Senshi?
The interesting, and seemingly inaccurate, breakdown of the two teams of Sailor Soldiers is definitely an interesting issue that I don’t feel gets discussed as much as it deserves to. Obviously from where we stand at the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Sailor Moon there are many answers that we could provide, but I’d rather take a look in how the teams formed in the first place.
Join me along for a look back into how the Inner and Outer senshi teams were formed in the first place, and where Sailor Saturn fits into that mess.
Taking the entire team of sailors as a whole, it’s pretty easy to overlook some of the consistencies in the infancy of the series. The fact that it started out as a team of five is probably simple enough to over look, when you consider the strong super sentai 1 fighting team roots the series was based on.
When the series was first starting, it probably made a good deal of sense that Ms. Takeuchi just went in order. After all, for quite awhile fans thought that the next Sailor Soldier after Makoto was going to be Naru – as Sailor Saturn! Obviously that never wound up happening, but it’s interesting to see where things could have gone in the early days of Sailor Moon.
But regardless of how that all played out, this does leave us with a perplexing problem to solve: why is Sailor Jupiter a member of the Inner senshi?
Before I go on, I’ll freely admit that what I’m writing about here is just a theory of mine, and is in no way necessary proven by statements made by Ms. Takeuchi or within the series. But considering we don’t have any firm answers anyway, it’s worth diving straight in and figuring out what we can explain away!
I’d say the first issue here is that, frankly, I think the inner and outer designations are something of a misnomer – a name misapplied.2 As many of you are probably already aware, our solar system is generally split up into two sets of planets:3
- the inner planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
- rocky, smaller, closest to the sun
- the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (… and not Pluto)
- gaseous, larger, further from the sun
The dividing line between these two sets of astral bodies is an asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, which is exactly what makes this whole situation annoying. So let’s just assume that the names are simply wrong. What other explanations can we find to explain the teams then?
What if, when Sailor Moon S / the Death Busters arc rolled around and Ms. Takeuchi started thinking about introducing new Sailor Soldiers, she decided to break the new team up not by their location relative to the asteroid belt, but by their date of discovery. Would that tell us anything else?
Possibly. Except for the Saturn conundrum, but we’ll deal with that shortly.
You see, the original six planets of our solar system – Mercury through Saturn – were known to ancient astronomers as early as 2000 BC.4 It wasn’t until 1781 – nearly 3,700 years later – that Uranus was finally discovered.
So if we look at things timeline-wise, that gives us a pretty good reason for why Ms. Takeuchi decided to make the next to Sailor Soldiers to be Uranus and Neptune, and not start with Saturn. Later on, when Pluto joins the two of them and we learn that they are entrusted with the three talismans, that’s when we start seeing the term Outer senshi start to get bandied about.
So the theory actually looks pretty good, even up through the summoning of Sailor Saturn and her destroying anything and everything we hold dear. When they first summon her, in fact, Sailor Saturn is always referred to as if she is her own separate entity – neither an Inner nor Outer Sailor Soldier. If anything her identity seems more juxtaposed to Sailor Moon, rather than simply being yet another member of a larger team.
If we consider Sailor Saturn needing to be the cut-off point between the two teams as a necessity of the plot, it actually all looks pretty good. In fact, once she comes back to life and grows up again under the watchful eyes of Haruka, Michiru, and ever-the-third-wheel Setsuna, you’ll notice that Sailor Saturn is frequently paired off with Sailor ChibiMoon, almost making their own group of
outcasts outliers, together with the Sailor Amazoness Quartet.
But does this hold water? Is Sailor Saturn really in a team of her own?
Yes and no. As good of an explanation as this is, it all gets ruined with Hotaru’s triumphant return in the manga as Super Sailor Saturn in the battle against the Dead Moon Circus, where she… yep, states that she has awaken to her duty to protect the princess and as a member of the Outer Senshi.
So that basically torpedoes my theory on the teams being nicely split up not necessarily by their commonly used “inner planet” and “outer planet” designations, and rather for how long they’ve been known to human astronomers.
Where does this leave us? Well, we’re basically stuck with the ill-fitting names the series used, though they did a good job explaining them away as that the “inner” Sailor Soldiers were charged with fighting threats from within the Solar System, while the “outer” Sailor Soldiers were charged with fighting those from beyond.
In that case, I think there is still a decent argument that can be made for Sailor Saturn not actually being a member of the “Outer” team at all – she simply joined them in an honorary fashion much like Sailor ChibiMoon did starting from Sailor Moon S. While I don’t believe this is actually the case in the story, the way that Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto treated her prior to the unforeseen reincarnation kind of backs it up.
But now that you know what I think, I’d like to know what you think! How do you think Sailor Saturn fits in with the two teams, especially when you consider how she often gets paired up with Sailor ChibiMoon for the last two story arcs. Was it just a matter of her age, or was Hotaru something of an unofficial member of the Outer Senshi?