What Was the Inspiration Behind Zoisite and Kunzite’s Relationship?

Who could it be?

Who could it be?

Among all of the liberties that the anime took when it came to redefining the characters of Sailor Moon — and there were certainly plenty — the reworking of Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship is one of the examples that stands out strongly in my mind.

Today, we’re here to talk about the 1978 manga and subsequent 1982 anime that may have served as an inspiration for how Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship developed into what we saw in the anime.

And if that doesn’t sound interesting, well then, I guess I just don’t even know who my readers are. If you’ve made it this far, then, I hope you join along for the ride!

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How Different Were the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom in the Anime and Manga?

You can't deny the Four Kings are cute

You can’t deny the Four Kings are cute

“Is this another topic on the differences between the anime and manga,” I can hear you groaning. But before you give up in search of something else to read, hang in there – how the characters of the Shintennou, the “Four Kings,” differed between the anime and manga, and especially the differences in Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship, is actually pretty interesting!

Or… at least it is to me. Your results may vary.

But in any case, today I’m going to take a look in how the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom changed. Wanna come along?

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Who Was the Most Popular Sailor Moon Villain?

Who Could It Be?

Who Could It Be?

Spoiler: It’s definitely not who you think it is!

One thing I absolutely love about doing this blog is being to stop down and actually look at the nitty-gritty details of this series that I love so much, and open my eyes up to new things that I either never noticed before, or never gave a second thought.

Today, I’m stopping to take an in-depth look into something you’ve probably never wondered about before – who is the most popular Sailor Moon villain? The answer will definitely surprise you!

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Why Were Both Queen Beryl and Luna Voiced by Keiko Han?

The Evil Queen We Will Defeat

The Evil Queen We Will Defeat

One of the more endearing “behind the scene” mysteries to me about the development of the Sailor Moon anime is just why, exactly, did Luna and Queen Beryl share a voice actress. Certainly, Keiko Han was a very talented – and veteran – voice actress who’s been active in the industry since her debut in 1977,1 but that doesn’t explain why the anime would choose to reuse her talent for two major roles. Today, we’ll take a look at one theory to explain this.

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What Does Nephrite’s Cursed Symbol Mean?

The Target is Chosen

The Target is Chosen

One of the interesting things about the Classic season of the Sailor Moon anime is that each of the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom not only had their own unique objectives, but they also had their own youma and their own ways of trying to achieve their goals. While Jadeite may have decided to get energy en masse, for example, Nephrite chose to get energy from a person when they were at their peak. But there’s one thing that I always wondered about many years ago when I watched Nephrite put his mark on his future victims: does that mark actually have any sort of meaning behind it?

The answer to this question is unfortunately, like is often the case when discussing the world of Sailor Moon, both yes and no. While the producers behind the anime were no strangers to adding in obscure hidden references into the background of scenes or playing games with character names, the answer to this question is rather straightforward – if you know where to look for the answer.

The Curse of Nephrite

The Curse of Nephrite

Since we see Nephrite use this symbol in multiple episodes when he puts his mark on a possession important to each of his victims, we can pretty definitively state what the proper orientation is (i.e., which way is up and, thus, how it should be interpreted). When you look closely at it, you can see that this symbol is really nothing more than a stylized form of the katakana used to spell out his name in Japanese – more specifically, the ネ (ne) in ネフライト (nefuraito).

But that’s no good reason to get disappointed, not yet at least! First, we need a brief history lesson.1

Hiragana and katakana,2 the two Japanese syllabic alphabets, developed from evolutions – simplifications, really – of kanji, which had been previously used in the form of man’yogana3 wherein kanji was read not for its symbolic meaning, but was used to phonetically spell out Japanese words. This was obviously not ideal for several reasons:

  1. Very little consistency between authors over which kanji was used to represent which sound (i.e., there are dozens of kanji that can be pronounced ne, so which do you use?)
  2. Kanji is time-consuming to write and requires more finesse for fine lines
  3. It was unclear when a kanji should be read for pronunciation and when it should be read for meaning (a proper noun, for example)

The katakana symbol ネ (ne) comes from a simplification of the kanji 祢 (ne),4 more specifically, the left radical of that kanji. When you take a look at how the kanji is simplified when writing in one of the various cursive styles of Japanese calligraphy, you can see the similarities with Nephrite’s mark.

Japanese Cursive Styles

Japanese Cursive Styles

You can see that as the kanji is written in more stylistic manners, the left radical bears a strong resemblance to the mark that Nephrite leaves on all of his victims. It looks like what we have here is a case of the anime producers actually looking back to the past in order to create something new and unique. I told you this wasn’t a complete disappointment!

Now if only someone could explain to me why it would be okay for Nephrite and Naru to date, like the trouble with Usagi and Mamoru in the anime, I think all of my questions would be answered.

How Did Fans React to the Deaths of the Sailor Soldiers?

Some Serious Sailor Moon Fans

Some Serious Sailor Moon Fans

Though it seems that Ms. Takeuchi was stopped at the last minute by her editor, Fumio Osano, from killing the Sailor Team at the end of the Dark Kingdom arc, their anime counterparts weren’t quite so lucky. For a show which strayed even more into family-friendly territory (which can be seen often with the comical moments between Rei and Usagi that didn’t exist in the manga) and even cut out some of the deaths from the series (such as Jadeite being killed in the manga and frozen in to an eternal slumber, Princess Serenity’s suicide in the manga after the death of Prince Endymion, etc.), it’s a bit odd that they’d go the opposite direction and actually kill off the main cast in the epic climax. So after being lulled into this false sense of security, how did the fans react? And, by extension, their parents?

June 1993 Animage

June 1993 Animage

The information for this article comes from the June 1993 issue of Animage magazine.1

The first, and most widely-publicized, story comes from a midnight radio DJ for Radio Fukushima, Arata Owada.2 As the story goes, he used to would watch Sailor Moon together with his daughter every Saturday and was shocked to watch the Sailor Team fall one by one. He was so upset by this that he actually called up TV Asahi and demanded to know what they planned to do about the characters. Since he often discussed anime on his late-night radio show – and was vocal about his concerns – he eventually caught the attention of Animage, which asked him to do a phone interview.

In the interview, he said that his daughter was so shocked by the ending that she came down for a 40°C (104°F) fever and stayed home from kindergarten for a week. When he finally took her to the doctor, he was told it was autointoxication3 and the doctor asked if she had suffered some sort of trauma or shock recently.

Nothing Can Stop a Fan

Nothing Can Stop a Fan

Another – and perhaps more interesting – story comes from a fan-letter section in the same issue of Animage called “Mom’s Too!” In it, a 32 year old mother offered her opinion on the matter. She noted that in real life, people don’t die and then magically come back, so she was opposed to the idea of the Sailor Team so imply being “reset” and then coming back to life as if nothing had happened. She was concerned that her daughter would take away the opposite lesson: that people die and come back, that death isn’t permanent, and may lose out on the importance of life.

Looking around on the internet also gives various anecdotal stories from people about their classmates not coming to school or the author themselves not being able to eat for several days after watching the climax to the first season, so it’s pretty apparent that the impact these episodes had on Sailor Moon fans was huge.

Personally, though, I think it’s a good thing – it really shows that what could be written off as a simple anime really did touch people’s lives, and that the TV Asahi staff did a wonderful job of making these characters real. Isn’t that really the greatest compliment?

 

What Book Was Mamoru / Endo Reading When He Was Possessed?

Endo's Book

Endo’s Book

I’ve mentioned it many times before, but it always amazes me just how detailed Ms. Takeuchi is in bringing to life the characters (and world) of Sailor Moon. You can really tell that she researches all the names, places, and characters and even puts in a lot of fun finishing touches here and there that leave a lot of fodder for me to answer questions like this! So, just what book did Mamoru – or, more accurately, Endo – forget and leave behind, only for Reika to come and bring back to him?1

Endo and his book (Vol 3, p 59)

Endo and his book (Vol 3, p 59)

At first glance, the title of the book just seemed pretty generic and like something you’d write as a one-off line, akin to the fake movie titles you hear spouted off in movies. The title translates to “Encyclopedia of Jewelry” (宝飾大全; houshoku taizen) and opens up to a page entitled “Collectors’ Stones,” and shows a variety of different stones on it. This seems a bit odd to those of us who are particularly pedantic because the title of the book is specifically about jewelry, while the book itself shows a page on rare (and not-so-rare) stones. So what gives?

Houseki Taizen

Houseki Taizen

Well, after doing a little bit of research, it turns out that there actually was a book by this exact same title, published by Yomiuri Color Mook in February 1991, over a year before this scene appeared in Nakayoshi. However, after taking a look through the index of the book,2 it seems that while Ms. Takeuchi may have used this book as a reference when looking up different stones and their meanings for the series, it probably isn’t the base for the one Mamoru is reading here. The cover, however, does seem similar! But not quite what we’re looking for on the inside.

Around here, I almost gave up and just figured that this was a simple coincidence that the names matched, and maybe Ms. Takeuchi just made the book up. Seems possible, and there might not really be anything deeper to this story. Going back through my notes again, I made one last check of the Sailor Moon Perfect Edition (完全版; kanzenban) to get some higher quality scans and to see if I could get any further details. Wouldn’t you know it, but it turns out this that is yet another one of the scenes where Ms. Takeuchi actually made changes between the original run of the manga and the newer updates!

Endo and his (second?) book (Vol 2, p 153)

Endo and his (second?) book (Vol 2, p 153)

This time around, the book’s been renamed “General Primer on Gems and Crystals” (総論宝石結晶; soron houseki kesshou) and the inside looks different. Doing a quick search for the title, and bingo! There was a book by a very similar name published back in March 1992 by Relief Systems titled “Crystals and Gems” (結晶と宝石;kesshou to houseki). Now wait a minute, I know I’ve seen this before… and any one who grew up in the early 90s and had to spend time in their school library definitely has too.

Kesshou to Houseki

Kesshou to Houseki

After researching this book more, I found out that this is actually a translation of the book titled “Crystal and Gem,” written by Robert F. Symes, and published by DK Children.3 The book has been around since the 1960s and I assume remains relatively unchanged, since a quick look at the index confirms that on pages 48 and 49 (of the English edition, at least) is a section titled “Collectors’ items.” Not much unlike the section found in the first edition of the manga. Even the art style/layout of the English and Japanese book is incredibly similar to the style which Ms. Takeuchi used in the original scene.

Crystal and Gem pp. 48-49

Crystal and Gem pp. 48-49

In fact, if you take a look at the page and compare it with the image from the manga above, you’ll actually notice that Ms. Takeuchi’s sketch is a near exact copy of these pages! Even more interesting is that page 49 (right page) contains an image in the lower-left corner of Mr. George Kunz, the source of the name for the stone Kunzite. Quite an inside reference!

It’s funny that Ms. Takeuchi actually changed the title of the book in the re-release to be closer to the inspiration, and yet changed the inside of the book to be further away from what the referenced material looks like. It’s not like I don’t understand, though. In the original manga, it was simply a sketch and impossible to get an idea of what the contents of the book were like, while this new version has clearly written text with “Jadeite” and “Beryl” written on it. But it feels a little less nuanced, and more like she’s throwing you a softball.

However, I’m honestly impressed that Ms. Takeuchi went this far to put a reference to Kunzite in here, in a small sketch of a book in one tiny panel. Great job!

How Were the Sailor Soldiers Reborn After the Fight With Queen Beryl?

The Tragic Passing of the Sailor Soldiers

The Tragic Passing of the Sailor Soldiers

Talking about the Sailor Moon timeline is a bit of a grey area right out of the gate, simply because the anime and the manga obviously differ, and pretty greatly at that. Obviously this is a fictional universe so we can’t hold out a lot of hope for things to be 100% accurate, nor should it be. If we were concerned with absolute accuracy, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be talking about junior high school girls fighting the forces of evil to begin with! But to the extent that we can recreate the timeline and make some sense of it, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

We talked in-depth before regarding how long the fight against the Dark Kingdom and Queen Beryl would have taken and ultimately came up with thirty-three days, with a lot of caveats of course. Though I haven’t checked the anime – and with 46 episodes which need to be watched, I’m afraid it would take an incredibly long time to do a thorough analysis – but my gut instinct is that there the battle against the forces of the Dark Kingdom took a little under a year, though seems to be fair to assume that the series followed along close to real time.1 These timeline issues actually are pretty helpful in answering the above question, regarding how the Sailor Soldiers came back to life after their untimely demise in their battle against the D-Girls in the anime. That’s right! Today, we’ll be talking about the anime timeline, though we’ll turn back and tie this into the manga where we can.

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What is the Story Behind Nephrite’s Alter Ego?

Nephrite and his Ferrari 512 TR

Nephrite and his Ferrari 512 TR

After Jadeite’s death in the anime in episode 13, the task of seeking out more energy for the Dark Kingdom fell upon Nephrite and his astrology-inspired plots to acquire as much energy from one person at their peak rather than many people at large, as his predecessor had tried. Even more unlike Jadeite (and even the rest of the four kings), he actually created a human persona and directly interacted with the sailor soldiers and supporting cast.1 Making his debut as Masato Sanjouin (三條院正人), he poses as a young business entrepreneur (though his business is never explained) who owns a mansion somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo and an expensive sports car.

Sailor Mercury has no respect for cars

Sailor Mercury has no respect for cars

On the topic of that sports car, now is as good of a time as any to mention that the design used in the anime was taken off of a real-life vehicle, and a pretty impressive one at that. The model for the car used was the Ferrari Testarossa and, more specifically, the 512 TR model.2 What’s even more impressive about this is that the episode in which Nephrite’s car debuted first aired on June 13, 1992 — just three months after the car was first unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in in March of the same year.3 The writers and art directors of the Sailor Moon anime were clearly on a rushed schedule as it is, and this definitely shows the very short lead time they must have been working with.

The Real Thing

The Real Thing

The car cost over 20 million yen when it first came out in Japan and, as an import model in an increasingly weakening Japanese economy, would obviously be a pretty rare sight at the time, though apparently according to an interview, Ms. Takeuchi remarked that when she moved into her new apartment / workspace, she was surprised to see that one of the other residents there owned a bright red Ferrari. Though her involvement in the anime on an episode-by-episode basis seems to have been relatively minor, her love for cars is well known and appears multiple times throughout the series,4 so this experience may have been a partial inspiration for Nephrite’s car in the anime.

Emperor Sanjou

Emperor Sanjou

Finally, where does his assumed name, Masato Sanjouin, come from? Well, the best that I could come up is the partial play on the kanji in his first name, 正人, though it’s a pretty common name and doesn’t mean anything in its own right. The two kanji, taken individually, mean “True” and “Person.”5 As the alter ego of an enemy, the irony is definitely there! Now for his last name, 三條院, this is unfortunately all pure speculation, but after researching it further, the best I can come up with is that it’s likely a reference to Emperor Sanjou who reigned from 1012 to 1016. After his death, he was given the posthumous name of Sanjou-in, in reference to the palace where he spent his last days.6 While an emperor who reigned for a mere 5 years before going blind seems like an obscure and unlikely reference, though there may actually be something behind it.

Emperor Sanjou is only known to have written 8 poems (of the tanka variety), the most famous of which being known as Kokoro ni mo or “[Longing] of the Heart.”7

心にも あらで浮世に ながらへば 恋しかるべき 夜半の月かな

Or, in English:

I will find myself longing for the sight of the midnight moon.

Taken in context from the point of view of a villain soon to be redeemed by learning of the power of love, I’d say that these are pretty fitting words and a great hidden — if obscure — reference for Nephrite’s human side. Put into this context, it definitely puts a more interesting spin on Nephrite’s outlook when we went out to engage with the humans he set out to steal energy from. Who would have known that Nephrite was already a hopeless romantic before he even met Naru!

What is the Buddhist Connection With the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom?

The Four Kings and Their Buddhist Counterparts

The Four Kings and Their Buddhist Counterparts

What many people don’t realize at first glance is that Ms. Takeuchi is not only a talented manga artist, but has an impressive background in the sciences.1  From joining the astronomy club in her high school days to majoring in chemistry (and later becoming a licensed pharmacist) in university, she had a very diverse base of information to draw upon when creating the Sailor Moon universe. The Four Kings (Shi Ten’Ou; 四天王) of the Dark Kingdom – Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite – are no different.

As with the names of each of the Sailor Soldiers (and many of the other characters in the series), the names of the Kings are no accident and have a deeper meaning behind them. Before we can get into the importance of their names themselves, though, we’ll need to first discuss where the concept of the “Four Kings” comes from in the first place. The “Four Heavenly Kings” comes from a Buddhist belief in four gods governing over each of the four cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West.2 Though the names of each of these kings (and the group themselves) differs by country, it should be safe to keep the scope of this conversation limited to its background in Japan due to this being where the series takes place.

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