Why Were Dracula, a Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster in Sailor Moon?

Rei ain't afraid of no ghosts

Rei ain’t afraid of no ghosts

Never one to turn down the opportunity to talk about old anime and manga that are relatively unknown to the west – and tie that into a Halloween-themed article to boot! – I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at the time when three of our favorite Sailor Girls found themselves in what basically amounts to a Scooby Doo-themed filler episode.

That’s right, I’m talking about episode 20 of the first season of Sailor Moon, the aptly-named “The Summer, the Beach, Youth and Ghosts.”1

Anyway, today we’re talking about some of the “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” references in this fun summer romp. I hope you’ll stick around!

Frankenstein's OTHER monster

Frankenstein’s OTHER monster

Now that I look a the title of this article again, I’m starting to think I could use this title again for an article about the Starlights. I mean, Taiki fits the bill of Frankenstein’s Monster pretty well, with that absurdly-large forehead.

But I digress. We’re here to talk about Usagi, Ami, and Rei’s beach adventure. Yes.

I’m not really in the business of giving episode summaries, since I assume that the vast majority of my readers here have already seem many of the episodes or read the manga, or that you have a general understanding of the series. But in case you haven’t seen this one, here’s a short summary:2

Usagi and her friends go to the beach on a training trip, but their lodging turns out to be a creepy old hotel run by scary-looking people.

That’s right, kids. This is a notorious beach episode.3 But what interests us about this episode is that, while we in the west may associate October and Halloween with the time for ghost stories and the paranormal, those things are more generally associated with August in Japan.

I mean, the end is technically a ghost story

I mean, the end is technically a ghost story

This is due partly to the Bon Festival (お盆; obon) period in mid-August, a time meant for honoring the spirits of your ancestors.4 Another popular reason given is that the ghost stories send a chill down your spine, helping you forget the summer heat.5

So with that long introduction out of the way explaining why this ghost-themed episode exists, we can now get to the point of this article: the interesting references the animation staff sneaked in.6

One of which is the name of the name of the hotel itself: Pension Adams.

Possible reference? The Addams Family

Possible reference? The Addams Family

While I can’t be certain, considering the theme of this episode, I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that the “Adams” here is in reference to the Addams Family. While that may seem like a pretty obscure reference for an early-90s Japanese anime, it actually isn’t. The movie, The Addams Family, was released in Japan on April 25, 1992 – less than 6 months before this episode aired.7

Of course, you didn’t click on this article in order to read about the Addams Family. We’re here to talk about the three staff members of Pension Adams: the mistress of the house (Dracula/vampire), the cook (werewolf), and the bellboy (Frankenstein’s monster).

The characters in question

The characters in question

There’s some debate about the what the woman in, with some people online claiming she’s a ghost, but that’s not true. She is not only a vampire, but more specifically, she is supposed to be Dracula. Don’t worry, I’ll follow up on this.

Considering how often the staff behind the Sailor Moon anime liked to throw in references to other series, it should come as no surprise that these three characters are actually a throwback to the 1980s anime The Monster Kid (怪物くん; Kaibutsu-kun),8 based on the manga of the same name by famed manga artist-but-actually-two-people Fujiko Fujio.9

Kaibutsu-kun and his monster friends

Kaibutsu-kun and his monster friends

Taro Kaibutsu – the titular Kaibustu-kun – is joined on his misadventures by his three comrades in arms: Dracula, Wolfman, and Franken.

In case that wasn’t enough for you, it might be worth pointing out that Wolfman is also a famous cook in Monster Land. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

I can’t say for sure, but I feel like there’s probably some sort of hidden reference going on with the young girl, Sakiko, and maybe some sort of movie plot or old Japanese legend, but I’ve been unable to dig up anything. There may be something out there, but I haven’t found it.

The jig is up for our monster friends!

The jig is up for our monster friends!

But that pretty much explains why Dracula, a werewolf, and Frankenstein’s monster made a guest appearance in Sailor Moon! I know I’ve mentioned it time and again, but it always amazes me how for both Ms. Takeuchi and the production staff behind the anime went to sneak in little references like this. There are actually a few more in this episode, but that will probably have to wait for another time.

If there are any episodes you’d like me to take a look at, or maybe there’s something that just doesn’t sit right and you think might have a deeper story, let me know! I’m always looking for more ideas.


References:

  1. … According to Viz. I would personally translate it as “Summer, the Ocean, our Youth… and Ghosts, Too!”
  2. Courtesy of Netflix
  3.  See Beach Episode
  4.  See Bon Festival (Wikipedia)
  5.  See Summer in Japan is all about telling ghost stories
  6. You know, I was certain that snuck was the more popular spelling
  7.  See The Addams Family (Movie) (Wikipedia)
  8.  See Kaibutsu-kun (Wikipedia)
  9.  See Fujiko Fujio (Wikipedia)

4 comments

  • This was such a weird episode. I actually never saw it until I was rewatching the series around 2013, I was shocked to learn that I had only seen 199 of the episodes and had missed one all of this time! Then sort of disappointed, as I discovered that this is one of the worst episodes of the series, just weird and nothing like the regular show at all.

    Either one or two of the flashback scenes in the Sailor Moon R movie were to this episode (Ami remembered talking to Usagi on the beach)… I never knew where the footage in the R movie came from until I finally saw this episode. I always thought it was weird that some of the flashbacks were from older episodes but I didn’t know where Ami’s was from.

  • The hotel’s name was an easy reference to get, but the workers confused me. I’ve seen some fans say they were also supposed to be a reference to the Addams Family, but I always thought the workers seemed more like a Munsters reference if anything. I should have known we were both wrong and it was actually a Japanese pop culture reference. XD Never heard of The Monster Kid before but it looks kind of cute.

    It’s interesting you haven’t been able to find what Sakiko is a reference to. I kind of like that, in a way. Makes this episode even more strange and mysterious. Part of why I love to watch it every Halloween!

    • My first gut instinct was that there must have been an Addams Family connection that I was somehow missing (… maybe the wolfman was supposed to be Cousin It??), but no matter how I looked, I just wasn’t finding anything. It was only after googling different combinations of monsters in Japanese that I finally stumbled across this series and made the connection.

      Every time I find a small thing like this, it always makes me want to rewatch other old episodes and see if there was anything in there that I never quite noticed before. It’s a lot of fun, to say the least!

      • Makes sense. The reason I thought it was a Munsters reference is on there, Herman is a Frankenstein, mom Lily is a vampire, and the son Eddie is a werewolf. That’s just like our trio here, but the difference in ages/lack of family relationship is what made unsure if that really was the case. It’s kind of funny finding out that there’s more than one show out there with a similar odd bunch of paranormal beings!

        Me too! I tend to take advantage of any excuse to rewatch Sailor Moon, even if it’s only a single episode, lol.

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