Why Are There Numbers in Mistress 9 & Pharaoh 90’s Names?

U + Me = Mistress 9

U + Me = Mistress 9

Anyone who has been a fan of Sailor Moon for any significant amount of time – which, let’s face it, is probably most of you – has probably been more than a bit perplexed about what was going on with the naming of our two lead villains in the third story arc of the series.

While Queen Metalia was pretty easy to understand and Sailor Galaxia really didn’t leave anything to the imagination in the name department, the seemingly random numbers that came up in the Infinity arc always left me puzzled.

So today we’re going to take a look at one possible explanation for why Ms. Takeuchi chose those numbers, and what significance they may have on the story. I hope you join along!

Me, when researching things for this blog

Me, when researching things for this blog

I’m going to be honest with you (and don’t worry, I usually am), the whole issue with the number nine appearing in both Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90’s names has been an obsession of mine for awhile now. It’s not something I exactly dedicated a lot of time to, but every once in awhile I’d try to come at it from a different angle just to see if I could find any sort of clue about what the names could mean.

And let me tell you, I tried a lot of different things. You’d be amazed at just how many ways there are to try to derive meaning from numbers. Some of the theories that went nowhere include:

  • Japanese homophones for the numbers 9 and 90
    • 9 can be pronounced as ku, which is also a reading for the kanji 苦 (ku; pain, suffering, anguish),1 but this theory doesn’t pan out since the manga and anime clearly pronounce it as the English “nine,” and it doesn’t explain Pharaoh 90.
  • Adding or subtracting numbers
    • Unfortunately 9 = 9, and 9 + 0 = 9. So nothing gained.
  • Numerology
    • I found absolutely nothing noteworthy in English or Japanese numerology sources that would imply these numbers are significant.
  • Egyptian history
    • Maybe the 90th pharaoh that was discovered was somehow significant? Unfortunately, it looks like pharaohs weren’t exactly plainly numbered in order of discovery (darn!!), and the actual number of pharaohs keeps changing as more are found, so that’s unreliable.
  • … and more than I care to remember
Why don't any of my theories pan out?!

Why don’t any of my theories pan out?!

Hopefully this gives you a bit of an insight into the process I go through when researching articles. Start with a question, propose a theory, test your theory, find out it’s wrong, and try again.

But we’re not here to talk about how many hours I waste on my work commute to solving Sailor Moon riddles. We’re here to talk about how Mistress 9 and Pharaoh 90 got their names! Or… at least how I think they got their names.

You see, one of the important themes in this story arc is the concept of a Daimon, and Daimon eggs. While we mostly think of them as the silly, erotic, or bizarre monsters of the day in the anime Sailor Moon S season, Daimon were pretty serious business – especially in the manga. The Witches 5 themselves were considered to be perfect Daimon, in fact.

Daimon: not for kids

Daimon: not for kids

So why am I suddenly rambling to you about Daimon? Glad you asked!

Daimon, or daemon, can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology, in which they were seen as lesser deities or guiding spirits.2

The more I read about them (for another article in the works, but let’s not worry about that), they more I wondered if perhaps Ms. Takeuchi also looked to Greek history for other things about the Infinity arc. Like, say, the names of our lead villains?

As it turns out, there was an ancient Greek practice known as isopsephy, which as Wikipedia explains it:3

[it is] the practice of adding up the number values of the letters in a word to form a single number.

Naturally. Without bogging you down with a lot of details, basically you take the order of each letter in the alphabet, assign it to a number, then add up all those numbers. A simple English example would be as follows:

Fire Soul = (6 + 9 + 18+ 5) + (19 + 15 + 21 + 12) = 105

But, you know, using the Greek alphabet.

Yes Usagi, math is hard.

Yes Usagi, math is hard.

So that got me thinking: what if we looked at it the other way around? Do these numbers, 9 and 90, actually tell us something?

Much to my surprise, not only is there a letter with the value of 9 (as we’d expect), but there is another letter with the value of 90 as well. Huh – this is starting to get interesting!

Starting with Hotaru’s evil alter-ego, the letter corresponding to the number of 9 is Θ (theta).4 And since we’re all experts in Greek symbolism, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but theta was considered the symbol of death.

The symbol of death, you say? Now where have I heard that before…?

Mistress 9 = theta = the symbol of death. My, what an interesting coincidence!

Something actually worked out!!

Something actually worked out!!

Moving on to 90, its corresponding letter is Ϙ (koppa/qoppa),5 a letter that fell into disuse many generations back, but stuck around as a number. While it’s hard to find any clear-cut meanings to koppa, the consensus seems to be that it’s related to “piercing a veil,”6 and that “veil” could be anything from truth, to ignorance, to darkness, and more.

This one is a little less cut-and-dry, but considering how well Mistress 9 seems to match up, that you could make a decent argument for Pharaoh 90, and that we don’t even know what Ms. Takeuchi’s references said about the meaning of koppa, I’m willing to accept this as a “definitely possible” theory.

In the name of the moon, I shall banish this question!

In the name of the moon, I shall banish this question!

Unfortunately, I still don’t have the definitive answer I’ve been looking for, but I think I’m reasonably comfortable with this explanation that I can at least put it aside for now.

But I’d love to know what you think about this idea. Too much guessing and not enough proof? Maybe you have another idea about what the numbers refer to? Please let me know!


References:

8 comments

  • I ALWAYS WONDERED THIS!!!!

    Are you saying I need to buy you a few coffees to fully get to the bottom of it? 😉

  • Numbers seem to play a huge role in this arc. The Witches 5, for example, are all about their levels. Which, is interesting that Pharoh 90 is only “90” when the Witches 5 have higher “levels”. I hope your theory is more accurate of what’s going on with 9 and 90.

  • “Piercing a veil”, huh? Maybe Earth/our galaxy/our dimension is the veil? Pharaoh 90 is trying to pierce into it to assimilate Earth, anyway.

    I definitely think you’re on the right track with this. It’s neat seeing where Naoko might have pulled the number inspiration from.

  • Thank you! I’ve been baffled by those names since I was a teenager (and I just turned 33 a month ago today). I like your theory a lot; and even if I didn’t, it’s certainly better than anything I could’ve come up with. “Piercing a veil” seems like a poetic way to describe to Mistress 9’s attempt to bring Pharaoh 90 into our dimension from out of the void and would explain why we never actually see him/it.

  • Theta and Koppa, huh?
    Hmm… might this tie back towards some Thelemite Gnosticism? The rest of the setup in SMS reeks of that. Right down to Sailor Moon combating them with Christian imagery.

    • I love how deep she went with references in the Infinity arc, especially with the themes of life and death and crossing various religions (the Japanese imperial treasures with the Outer senshi, the Greek mythology, and Christianity). It really added a depth to the story arc that I think would have been missing if she just made everything up on her own.

      That said, I always felt the Dream story arc was kind of lacking in this regard, though that might just be a personal bias on my part. There are still lots of tiny little references to look at, but more of that story seems to have been made up. Or maybe I’m just lacking the proper background to know better?

      • The Dream Arc proposed a lot of neat ideas that never went anywhere afterward, from what I gathered. Helios and the stuff with the Golden Crystal from Earth were intriguing. More info on Earth’s Silver Millenium activities and key players would have been nice to delve deeper into. It feels like they abandoned what could have been a rich story in favor of the Galaxia stuff, which rendered it basically irrelevant.

  • I, too, tried to find out the mystery behind the Pharaoh 90’s and Mistress 9’s names and all I managed discover is that number 9 can represent the idea of completeness and, by extension, finality and end. Thus Mistress 9 would be someone who brings about the end to humanity and the world, which ties her closely to her host’s true identity, i.e. Sailor Saturn. As for number 90, the idea is that it has its symbolism magnified and amplified by virtue of being a multiple of 9. However, all of this feels somehow, as the Japanese would say, 物足らぬ (mono-taranu) (or 物足りない (mono-tarinai), if you will).
    I like your explanation much better and you might be on to something here regarding the Greek letters since Naoko used two more of them in this story arc, namely: タウ星系 (Tau-seikei) and オメガ・エリア (Omega Area). (Whilst the meaning behind the naming for Omega Area is rather clear to me, I am still not quite sure about the significance of tau in Tau-seikei.)
    If only we could know what sources and reference materials were used by Naoko-sensei and anime creators for naming characters and places in BSSM… *.*
    BTW, I cannot express enough how much I love your website. I have been binge-reading your articles since I came upon Tuxedo Unmasked. ^^

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