Where Did the Members of the Dead Moon Circus Get Their Names?
As I’m sure you’ve probably already noticed by now, names – and the inspirations behind them – are something of a big deal to me. Not only do they give you an idea of the thematic references that either Ms. Takeuchi or the anime staff were sticking to with their main villains and the various monsters of the day, but I think the names she gave even the normal characters can tell you a lot about how she intended for them to be viewed.
Today, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the inspirations behind the names for the… interesting cast of characters that belong to the Dead Moon Circus.
I hope you stick around! There are bound to be a few surprises along the way.
You probably won’t be all that surprised if I told you right now that there are rocks/minerals involved, would you? If so, then you probably have a lot of background reading to do on all the other villains that have appeared in the Sailor Moon series.
Getting that spoiler out of the way doesn’t really make this any less interesting, though.
I’m not sure about you, dear reader, but I don’t exactly have an encyclopedic knowledge of various gems and minerals and can’t immediately call to mind what they look like. Seeing the stones themselves together with the is always fun, because you can see just how much of an inspiration they actually were.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a trip down to the
Dead Moon Circus!
Though this is probably a pretty small point in the grand scheme of things, one interesting thing about the Amazon Trio is that this is the first time since the Dark Kingdom that we see the Sailor Soldiers facing off against all-male enemies… at least until the Amazoness Quartet entered the picture.
Also of note, though Fish Eye is usually pointed to as the feminine one of the group, all three of them speak in feminine styles in Japanese and Hawk’s Eye also dresses in women’s clothing in the manga.
Named after – surprise! – the gemstone of the same name, they also share a lot in common in terms of their color themes. This is probably more to do with the fact that they’re both mutually inspired by tigers, but let’s not think too much about that.
I’m telling you, if these characters weren’t named after stones, I’d be pitching a fit about the fact that they have apostrophes in their names. But they are, and in this case after the stone named hawk’s eye, so I guess that makes it okay. As an interesting side note, tiger’s eye (the stone) is actually made from hawk’s eye (also the stone).1 Sadly, we didn’t get any cool design connection here, since hawk’s eye is a dark blue/grey stone.
As you’d expect, Fish Eye is named after the mineral apophyllite, which means that…
… wait a second. Apophyllite?!2
Well, yes and no. Like the other gemstones, “fisheye” is apparently an alternative – though seemingly rarely used – name for apophyllite. However, that’s the name that was used when it was translated back into Japanese, 魚眼石 (gyoganseki; lit. fish eye stone) Though it typically is clear, fisheye can come in a wide variety of colors, including blue!
As much as I love these four characters and desperately wish that I could write at length about where they got their names, unfortunately there’s really not much to say about that.
The members of the Amazoness Quartet are all named after the four largest asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. In order of discovery:
- CereCere = Ceres
- PallaPalla = Pallas
- JunJun = Juno
- VesVes = Vesta
As an interesting side note, though, these four were actually considered to be planets between 1808 and 1845, which gives even further street cred to them being Sailor Soldiers.3
Since they aren’t counted as Sailor Soldiers in the anime, though, their names don’t actually make a whole lot of sense there, but that’s more a shortcoming of the anime and less a problem with the names.
You’re probably already familiar with the name from the diamond substitute of the same name, cubic zirconia. When you stop and actually think about it, this name is actually pretty fitting when you consider how the Golden Crystal was such a big part of this story arc, to say nothing of the Silver Crystal, Crystal Tokyo, and all the other connections.
… I wonder if this makes her something of an arch rival to Prince Demande?
Though I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that Zirconia’s flying eyeball minion is just a play on her name, zircon is actually a mineral in its own right and is not to be confused with cubic zirconia.4
Even just writing the name out makes me cringe, since the spelling of the name has gone through so many changes throughout the long history of English versions. So far, she’s gone by:
Okay, so I may have made that last one up. But I’m sure you get the point that there seems to be some confusion as to the best way to spell out this name. And some of that confusion is undoubtedly due to confusion over the reference.
The commonly accepted answer is that she is named after the goddess Nehalennia/Nehalenia/Nehalaennia,5 whose origins are also unfortunately lost to time. According to Wikipedia:
She must have been a Celtic or Germanic deity, who was attributed power over trading, shipping and possible horticulture and fertility.
So, while that’s good and interesting at all, it doesn’t exactly make for a very compelling connection. More than likely, Ms. Takeuchi actually picked this name based one some… well… let’s just say sketchy information.
“Nether Moon,” a variant of the Goddess Hel, or Holle, after whom Holland was named.
And, while this would definitely give us a great connection between Nehellenia’s name and the character we see in the series, unfortunately over the past 3 decades many of the details in this book have been proven wrong. Such as, you know, the fact that Holland is derived from the Old Dutch term holtlant (“wood-land”).8 Or that apparently the Romans named every sea after Mary, which is absurd.9
But the good (???) news is that none of this matters! While the book may have been full of nothing but falsehoods and insane ramblings, it actually was translated into Japanese at the time and would have been available to Ms. Takeuchi. So even if it was wrong, it’s still a source that she may have used.
So, long story short, Nehellenia is probably named after a Celtic or Germanic goddess that Ms. Takeuchi wrongly believed was named for a “nether moon.”
And that, dear reader, is probably far more than you ever wanted to know about the etymologies of the names for the villains of the Dead Moon Circus!
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m always interested in covering the names of characters, places, things in the series, and even song lyrics, so if there’s anything you’ve always wondered about, I’d love to hear your questions!
- See About Hawk’s Eye ↩
- See Apophyllite (Wikipedia) ↩
- See List of Asteroids in Astrology (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Zircon (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Nehalennia (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Ian Andreas Miller’s “Dies Gaudii” ↩
- See The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (Walker, Barbara) ↩
- See Holland (Etymology) (Wikipedia) ↩
- See this incredibly detailed comment on Amazon ↩