Why Does Ami Think Vampires Like to Eat Flowers?

Lilica Hubert (spoiler: she's a vampire)

Lilica Hubert (spoiler: she’s a vampire)

In the spirit of the season – and for all of you reading this in the future, that means Halloween – I desperately wanted to find some sort of story or mystery relating to Sailor Moon that I could talk about, but unfortunately I didn’t have much luck. There just isn’t a lot of scary things that happen in the show, unless you’re talking about Mamoru’s fashion sense or Taiki’s obnoxiously large forehead.

So I took to social media for suggestions and, as expected, I got a lot of great suggestions that never even crossed my mind. You people rock.

Today, we’ll be talking about about the story of the vampire who once graced the pages of Sailor Moon, and Ami’s seemingly bizarre leap in logic in how she determined this young girl was a blood-sucking demon of the night.

Stick around!

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Happy Birthday Ami Mizuno!

Happy Birthday Ami!

Happy Birthday Ami!

Ami Mizuno – is there nothing this girl can’t do? Our second – or third, depending on if you count Sailor V – Sailor Soldier to appear in the series takes on a variety of important roles for the team, both in and our of costume. In addition to being an absolute genius, she also shows that she really understands her friends by serving as Usagi’s confidant in early episodes and as the voice of reason when Rei and Usagi start bickering.

She also likes cats, and anyone who likes cats is awesome in my book.

In honor of Ami’s birthday, I decided to compile a five of my favorite articles about her and share them with you, together with a few comments on the article.

1. What Does Ami’s 300 IQ Score Actually Mean?

What I found most interesting about this subject is that not only would Ami not be the first person to claim an IQ score of 300, but that nowhere in the series was it actually stated factually that it actually is that high. Just like the school rumors that were floating around about Makoto being a violent savage, her IQ score as just playground gossip originally.

2. Who Was the Inspiration Behind Ami’s Character Design?

This is where we first encounter Ms. Takeuchi’s love for 1980s and early 1990s idols, and it was a bit of a surprise to me to learn that there was actually a real-world inspiration behind Ami’s design. To be honest, though, I wonder how much of what Naoko says here is true, since Ami is clearly taken straight from her earlier manga, Miss Rain, and is very similar in design to the Sailor V character Hikaru Sorano. So maybe Miss Rain/Hikaru was based on the idol…?

3. What’s the Significance of Ami’s Parents Being Divorced?

While by no means “the norm” now, it’s far more accepted in today’s day and age to portray single parent households in media. In Japan, however, that’s still not quite the case, with more single parent homes either being the result of the death of one parent, or the parent simply not being show or addressed… ever. And that’s today. But back in 1993, this was a pretty big move for Ms. Takeuchi to take in her children-focused manga. As someone who grew up with divorced parents, I commend her for doing this.

4. Why was Ami the Most Popular of the Sailor Soldiers?

After years of hearing it repeated over and over on message boards, websites, and at Sailor Moon events, I finally had to take look at the whole concept of the cast’s popularity, and how the characters were perceived at the time. To my surprise, the results showed that Sailor Mercury’s popularity was in fact just like we had been told… and not true at all, at the same time.

5. Could Ami Really Be Allergic to Love Letters?

The topic for this article came to mind while I was having lunch with a friend and we were joking about “stupid, unrealistic anime tropes,” and the topic of how ridiculous it was that Ami could be allergic to love letters came up. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered if it could in fact be true. Psychomatic disorders are something that have fascinated me for a long time (don’t ask, I know I’m weird), so it seemed like something worth diving into. I’m glad I did!

In the words of Winston Churchill: "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

In the words of Winston Churchill: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Every time I sit down to write an article and begin my research, I always wind up coming away with more questions I want to delve further into than I started with – and that’s exactly what I love about Sailor Moon! The deeper you dig, the more mysteries you find, waiting to be uncovered.

If you have any questions you’d like me to look into about Ami – across her myriad of forms, be it manga, anime, or the live-action show! – I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

What Are the Sailor Soldiers’ Favorite Ways of Fortune Telling?

Usagi getting her fortune told (ep. 2; using yarrow stalks)

Usagi getting her fortune told (ep. 2; using yarrow stalks)

Once again, we’re going to be talking about something that you never knew you wanted to know: the way that each of the Sailor Soldiers prefers likes to throw their fate to the wind and find out what their fortunes may be.

That’s right, we’re talking about fortune telling! Join along for another trip into exploring the profiles of our favorite Sailor Soldiers!

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How Did the Sailor Soldiers’ Views of Love and Life Differ?

All you need is love! ♪

All you need is love! ♪

With all of the exciting adventures the Sailor Soldiers embark on and the resulting epic battles against the forces of evil, it’s often easy to forget that, at its core, Sailor Moon is a story of teenage romance.

Today, I’d like to take a closer look at the softer side of our sailor-suited heroines and see how their approaches to love and life differed.

So without further ado, let’s get this started!

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Which Character Did Sailor Mercury’s Voice Actress Apply For First?

The original Sailor Moon voice cast and characters

The original Sailor Moon voice cast and characters

Of the many (many!) things that we can praise the Sailor Moon anime production for, I’d definitely rank the excellent and highly talented voice cast right up near the top. Without their wonderful voice work to strike a chord with the viewers, I’m not sure the anime would have been as much of a success as it was.

But things very well could have turned out differently. As it turns out, Aya Hisakawa – voice of our beloved Ami Mizuno – actually went in to try out for someone else at first.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane!

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Who Came Up With Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars’s Catchphrases?

Sailor-suited soldiers of _____ and justice!

Sailor-suited soldiers of [noun] and justice!

“In the name of the Moon…!”

Admit it, with just these six words, you probably finished the rest of the sentence in your head. Sailor Moon’s self-referential catchphrase is so famous that even the casual fan of the series would probably be able to finish it.

While the catchphrases of the other Sailor Soldiers may be less well known — though I’m sure their fans would be willing to disagree! — the stories behind them are no less interesting.

Today we’re going to talk about who came up with Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars’s catchphrases and what they almost were instead!

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What Weapons Were the Inner Soldiers Supposed to Wield?

The Sailor Team Attacks

The Sailor Team Attacks

One of the interesting key differences about the Outer Sailor Soldiers is that, unlike the Inners, they all have their own weapons / talismans. Even Sailor Moon and Sailor ChibiMoon get on the trend and have their own various sticks, rods, and kaleidoscopes! So why is it that the Inner Sailor Soldiers miss out on this pattern and don’t have their own weapons? The fact of the matter is: it wasn’t always meant to be that way. So what were the Sailor Soldiers armed with?

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What is the Connection Between Ami’s Mother and Germany?

Ami, off to Berlin

Ami, off to Berlin

While there’s certainly nothing particularly notable in fiction about a main member of the cast (successfully or unsuccessfully) having to move away, Ami’s sudden announcement in the anime1 that she would be going to Germany of all places for her study abroad comes off as a bit random. Moreover, her reasoning – that she wants to be a doctor like her mother – seems completely unrelated. But what’s interesting about this is that while Ami’s sudden desire to go to Deutschland may seem completely random to Sailor Moon fans in the west, it actually made a lot of sense, and even seemed natural, to Japanese fans.

First, a little background on what is strange about Ami going to Germany.

In Japan, every student is required to study English for at least three years in junior high school, though most will study for six, with an additional three years in high school (though high school is not included in compulsory education in Japan).2 Though much can be said about the quality of English education in Japan,3 high scores (on tests, at least) are still seen as important by – and are even required for entering – some of the biggest companies and universities in Japan. With that in mind, why would someone as scholastically focused as Ami choose to go to Germany and not an English-speaking country?

Time to get down to studying!

Time to get down to studying!

This is where Ami’s mother and, more importantly, her career comes in. Up until around the 1990s, when digital/electronic records started to take over, it was common practice for Japanese doctors to jot down their notes and transcribe information in the patient’s chart regarding their status not in Japanese, but in German. Even the Japanese word for “patient chart,” カルテ (karute), comes from the German word karte.4

Now why would they do that? Well, the reason is two fold. First, many of the Japanese words for medical ailments and conditions involve uncommon kanji and, when the word has been borrowed, it would make more sense to write the foreign word rather than a string of katakana to spell it phonetically. Second, it was written in German to keep the patient from reading their own records.

Not so sure about this...

Not so sure about this…

Actively trying to keep a patient from reading their own medical records may sound like lunacy (or even malpractice!) from a 21st century, western point of view, but Japanese media is rife with scenes of a relative dying of some grave illness and only the family being told of how much longer the patient has to live. Informed consent5 wasn’t even required under any Japanese laws until the Medical Care Act6 was revised to include it in 1997. By writing the records in German, it was nearly guaranteed that the patient wouldn’t understand their own prognosis without the doctor to explain.

Though this tradition has mostly gone by the wayside now thanks to electronic records and hospitals generally informing patients of their own medical conditions, in 1993 when this episode aired, that would definitely have still been the case, and thus it would have only been natural that Ami would want to get a head start on studying German so that she could follow in her mother’s footsteps as a doctor.

Though obviously the anime wouldn’t have dared to get rid of Ami (especially considering her popularity), I still would have loved to see her away from the team for a few episodes, or even show her experiencing Germany before coming back. There is one question that’s always bothered me, though: when Ami ultimately does become a doctor, what kind of doctor would she be?

Could Ami Really Be Allergic to Love Letters?

Allergic to Love? Oh REALLY?

Allergic to Love? Oh REALLY?

One of the interesting criticisms I often see about the Sailor Moon series is the seemingly ridiculous fact that Ami breaks out into hives simply be being in the presence of a love letter.1 This, as the fans say, is absolutely unrealistic. Putting aside for a second that we’re talking about a series in which cats talk, junior high school girls live alone, and 14 year olds fight the forces of evil, this seemed like something that might be worth investigating. After all, not only am I not a stranger to researching the real life implications of the Sailor Moon universe, that’s the whole point of this blog!

First off, it’s important to note one small distinction: Ami is not allergic to love letters or even love in general. According to the manga:2

「・・・・・・ちょっとね、朝じんましんがでちゃって」
「ストレスがたまっているのかしら」

“Well, I kinda broke out into hives this morning…”
“I guess the stress is building up.”

Poor Ami...

Poor Ami…

You see, while there are a wide variety of causes for the onset of hives (and I’m by no means a medical doctor!), it’s pretty clear here that what Ami is suffering from is a stress-induced case of hives known as psychogenic urticaria, or psychogenic hives.3 This essentially means that the cause of the outbreak has nothing to do with any external causes, but is purely related to a stress reaction within the body. This is more common in adults than children,4 though I think it’s safe to say that Ami is relatively mature for her age.

There have also been studies showing that up to 80% of cases of hives are unexplained and are attributed to stress disorders,5 and another study done in Turkey has shown that those with chronic cases of hives have a higher than average rate of suffering from medical disorders such as depression, OCD, and more.6

So the good news (… bad news?) for Ami here is that she could very well be having a completely normal reaction to the sudden onset of stress and anxiety brought on by receiving a love letter, so it’s not completely unrealistic as people may say online.

One more thing!

One more thing!

One final thing to note is that many people also argue that this is inconsistent due to Ami’s completely normal behavior when going on a date with Ryo Urawa in season one.7 However, as we established that this is likely related to Ami’s stress/anxiety toward the situation, if you feel completely comfortable or natural, then you would obviously not have an outbreak. Yet another nail in the “allergic to love” coffin.8

So anyway, while this definitely isn’t to say that everything in the world of Sailor Moon is entirely grounded in reality, there are definitely a lot of myths about the characters (like Ami’s 300 IQ score!) that get misrepresented and make things seem even more outrageous than they really are. Let’s give Ms. Takeuchi a little more credit!

Why was Ami the Most Popular of the Sailor Soldiers?

Ami – A Political Powerhouse

Ami – A Political Powerhouse

One of the enduring mysteries of the Sailor Moon franchise is that of the perplexing popularity of Ami – the shy, bookish brains of the Sailor Team – especially among fans in the West. I’m sure it’s no mystery at all to those who count themselves among her fans, of course, but from a purely objective perspective, it seems a bit strange that the soft-spoken, brainy character (who didn’t even have a particularly abnormal amount of episodes even devoted to her, mind you) would end up constantly ranking at the tops of Japanese polls. So how is it that Ami came to be the most popular of the inners, and what does it tell us about Japanese fans of Sailor Moon as a group?

Before testing any theory, though, it’s important to first see if there’s any truth to your hypothesis. So we should first ask: is Ami actually popular? And how do we know?

In order to answer this question, I dug through the archives of the Japanese anime magazine, Animage,1 and tallied up their monthly “favorite character” rankings, which allows all of their readers to vote for their favorite anime characters and tallies them up. Since the anime runs on a schedule of March to February and the magazine ships early, I’ll be comparing seasons from June through May for the magazine results. They’re actually pretty surprising! [Note: Popularity counts from 1 down to ~20, so 1 is the highest.]

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