Though hardly on the same level of the brutal Sailor Moon debates we’re used to dealing with here on this blog, the subject concerning the connection between Sailor Lethe and Sailor Mnemosyne is one of those seemingly simple issues that the fans can never quite agree on.
If these two are sisters, then that opens up a whole new slew of questions, such as the nature of their seemingly romantic relationship and how two related people could each have their own Sailor Crystal. If they aren’t, why do they look so much alike??
Today we’ll be taking a look at Sailors Lethe and Mnemosyne — the so-called “sister Senshi” — to see if they really are related, and just what’s going on with all this Sailor Crystal confusion. You might want to grab a science book, because this whole issue is about to get astronomical!
The concept of Sailors Lethe and Mnemosyne being twin sister is, on the surface at least, not all that much of a surprise. For those of you who are perhaps new to Sailor Moon,1 the series actually has quite a few twins in it. So many, in fact, that there are around ~10 pairs of twin (or twin-like) characters in the series.
So let’s just get the first question out of the way, shall we?
Yes, Sailor Lethe and Sailor Mnemosyne are undeniably and canonically twin sisters. Ms. Takeuchi kindly answers this question for us in the Materials Collection artbook where she outlines their characters: right between the two of them is the word ふたご (futago; twins).2
Judging by the way that they act toward each other, I’d say it’s also a pretty safe bet that they’re meant to be lovers. As for the logistics of how that one works out, that’s kind of beyond the scope of this blog, but hey — love knows no boundaries in this world of miracle romances, right? Not even those pesky laws surrounding university Mamoru and junior high schooler Usagi!
Since we’ve got the easy question out of the way, that leaves us with the hard one: how is it possible for twin sisters to both have their own Sailor Crystal?
Strictly speaking, the generally accepted rule is that each celestial body has one Sailor Crystal. This is at least a reasonably accepted fact considering that Sailor ChibiMoon comes back from the future with the Moon Sailor Crystal.3 It’s a bit unclear how the passing of the torch to the new generation actually works, seeing as how you kind of die when you lose your Sailor Crystal, but I guess you could argue that Usagi also has the whole Sailor Cosmos thing going for her, so we’ll leave that be for now.
In order to deal with this issue, we’ll need to actually figure out just what Lethe and Mnemosyne are, then.
Though often misreported on fan sites as being from sister planets, Sailor Lethe and Sailor Mnemosyne actually lived on the same planet in a binary star system.4
Think something like Tatooine in Star Wars,5 just if Luke had a twin sister that he was romantically… involved… hey, wait!
I won’t bore you with the details on how all this planet vs. star confusion comes into play since I already covered it when discussing the issue of whether Kinmokusei is a planet or a star, but to be fair, it’s a pretty honest mistake. Regardless of how the mistake came into being, though, Sailor Lethe and Sailor Mnemosyne both introduce themselves as being the respective guardians of the Lethe Star and Mnemosyne Star,6 so there’s really no opening for debate here.
Lethe: 私は忘却の川の番人 レテ星（スター）のセーラーレテ。
Mnemosyne: 私は記憶の川の番人 ムネモシュネ星（スター）のセーラームネモシュネ。
Or, for the non-Japanese-speakers among us (translated literally):
Lethe: I am the guardian of the river of forgetfulness, Sailor Lethe, of the Lethe Star.
Mnemosyne: I am the guardian of the river of memory, Sailor Mnemosyne, of the Mnemosyne Star.
When referring to their respective celestial bodies, Ms. Takeuchi helpfully puts in a furigana7 guide above the kanji to clarify for the readers that these are, in fact, stars and not planets.
In case that wasn’t enough, the following page shows a picture of the binary star system as the two discuss how small and impoverished their planet was, this time referring to it as:8
Our planet was small and impoverished…
The text clearly indicates that it was “their” planet.9
What this all basically means is that the most likely explanation for this whole situation is that these two Sailor Soldiers were born on a small planet that orbited the twin stars Lethe and Mnemosyne. Since living on the respective celestial body doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite to become a Sailor Soldier, I don’t really see much of a problem with this whole situation. In fact, these two women being twins actually makes a lot of sense, considering the binary star system!
Yet again, this is another one of those situations we run across in Sailor Moon where I really wish we had more information on how the whole process surrounding Sailor Crystals works. I love the idea of there being twin Sailor Soldiers, but unfortunately the Sailor Lethe and Sailor Mnemosyne story arc takes place in a scant few pages, so we never really get a full picture of how they became Sailor Soldiers.
With that said, this whole issue does leave me wondering what the limits are on what kind of celestial body can have a Sailor Soldier. Planets, yes. Moons, yes. Dwarf planets (Ceres/Pluto), yes. Asteroids, yes. Taiki’s forehead, yes. Stars, yes. The whole cosmos? That too.
What do you think the limits are? Could there be Sailors of blackholes, comets, or even space dust?? I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on the subject!
- Hi! ↩
- See 双子 (Jisho.org) ↩
- There’s also the the totally-not-canon-though-kinda-canon-but-not-really Parallel Sailor Moon short story, where each of the Sailor Soldiers’ daughters take up their mothers’ respective roles, but that world has so many mysteries in it that we’re putting it aside. ↩
- See Binary Star (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Why Tatooine is plausible: the orbital mechanics of binary star systems ↩
- See p. 120 of vol. 17 of the original release of the manga ↩
- Basically a guide for how to read a kanji; see Furigana (Wikipedia) ↩
- See p. 121 of vol. 17 of the original release of the manga ↩
- Before you post a comment about what your Japanese/English dictionary says 星 means, please read the other article on Kinmokusei. Yes, I’m aware. No, it doesn’t always mean “star.” ↩