Why Do Minako and Rei Always End Up Together?

What's going on here??

What’s going on here??

Alternative title: What Is the Relationship Between Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars?

Whenever the Sailor Soldiers split up in the anime or manga, you’ll notice that the breakdown generally ends up with Makoto and Ami and then Rei and Minako. Today, we’re going to take a look at why that may be, and if there’s any deeper reason as to why Ms. Takeuchi decided on this break down.

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Is Sailor Mars Secretly Buddhist?

Could This Be Rei's Darkest Secret??

Could This Be Rei’s Darkest Secret??

I know that I’ve talked a lot about Rei and the rather confusing situation going on with her Christian/Buddhist/Shinto beliefs, but the more you look into it, the more unclear the whole situation behind the Hikawa Shrine becomes. It’s that time again where we take another deep dive into Grandpa Hino’s questionable religious affiliations!

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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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Why Did Rei Pursue Mamoru in the Anime?

Rei Locked on to Her Target (ep. 15)

Rei Locked on to Her Target (ep. 15)

While there are quite a few differences between Rei in the anime and the manga, one of the more striking differences between the two is the storyline where Rei and Mamoru briefly dated in the first season of the Sailor Moon anime. Though Mamoru himself was no stranger to differences between the two mediums, how it is that the cool, mysterious, and boy-hating1 (!) Rei from the manga went so far into the opposite direction and ended up pursuing Mamoru so aggressively is more than a bit out of character for her. So how did this wind up happening and what does this tell us about Rei’s character in the anime?

Rei’s reasons for pursuing Mamoru were actually pretty simple (some would say superficial, but I’m not one to judge). According to Rei:2

「ルックスがよくて、いい学校に行っていて、お金持ちだから」

“He’s attractive, going to a good school, and is rich.”

Rei finds her prey...

Rei finds her prey…

More than likely, this is in reference to what is known in Japanese as 三高 (sankou; the three highs): high salary, high-class education, and physical height.3 During the bubble economy4 – from the late 80’s to early 90’s – these attributes were said to be what was most valued by Japanese women when choosing a potential boyfriend or future husband. From Rei’s point of view, as the daughter of a politician and a student at an elite private school, it was only natural that Mamoru would make a good match for her. It’s possible, I suppose, that she could also sense Mamoru and Usagi’s budding feelings for each other and this was meant to be antagonistic, but that’s just speculation and I really don’t see Rei as that type of person.

Perhaps the greatest source of information on (anime) Rei’s outlook on love and romance comes from an interview5 with Michie Tomizawa, Iriya Azuma, and Sukehiro Tomita (Rei’s voice actress and Sailor Moon‘s producer and scenario writer, respectively). In it, the producer (Azuma) admits that Rei and Michie have the strongest resemblance between all of the voice actresses of their respective characters, and even that the animation staff often sit in on the post-recordings and take notes for how to evolve the characters.

Newtype: 「シリーズが進むうちに、レイちゃんと富沢さんの性格が接近してきたということですね。」
Azuma: 「ええ。スタッフも、アフレコなどでよく声優さんを観察していますから・・・あっ、似てきたといっても、富沢さんがイジワルだってわけじゃないですよ(笑)。」

Newtype: “So Rei and Ms. Tomizawa’s personalities are getting more and more alike as the series progresses.”
Azuma: “That’s right. The staff is often watching the voice actresses during the post-recordings, you see. Well, it’s not like Ms. Tomizawa is ill-tempered or anything! (laugh)”

Later in the interview, Ms. Tomizawa discusses the brief relationship between Rei and Mamoru, describing it as Rei mistaking her feelings of admiration for Mamoru for romantic love. Even more interesting, and possibly even more relevant to Rei’s feelings towards love with regard to Yuichiro, Ms. Tomizawa describes herself as:

Tomizawa: 「 ・・・わたし、子供のころからずっとスポーツギャルで、仲のいい男の子の友達もいっぱいいたんですけど、好きになった人に対しては口もきけないようなタイプでした。」

Tomizawa: “… I’ve always been a sporty girl and have had lots of male friends ever since I was a child, but when it comes to people I liked, I couldn’t talk to them.”

This may help explain her completely different approaches toward her relationships with Mamoru and Yuichiro, wherein she directly pursues Mamoru but seems to interact with him more like a friend, particularly in the Sailor Moon R anime where she can occasionally be seen spending time together with Mamoru and ChibiUsa, while completely ignoring or even yelling at Yuichiro. Further discussion on her relationship with him, however, will have to wait for another time!

A romance never meant to be...

A romance never meant to be…

Whether you love or hate the way Rei differed in the anime and manga, she did serve as an interesting foil in the series to play against Usagi and even helped bring out some of Usagi’s feelings toward Mamoru prior to the big Tuxedo Mask reveal (something which fans often describe as happening too fast in the manga). It’s interesting to see that a lot of this actually came about from Ms. Tomizawa’s take on the character and how the production staff chose to adapt Rei’s personality to match the person providing her voice (both literally and figuratively)!

How Does Rei’s Fire-Reading Fit Into Shinto?

Rei Meditating at the Great Fire

Rei Meditating at the Great Fire

Though I hate to speak for other people, I think it’s relatively safe to say that the customs, beliefs, and traditions of the Shinto religion are often not well understood in the West and, therefore, it’s a bit difficult to get a handle on the accuracy of its portrayal in anime, manga, and movies. The good news is that even Japanese people don’t understand it all that well, and very often you’ll see vague scenes of “spirits” all passed off under the Shinto umbrella. That’s actually what’s going on with the fire-reading (also known as pyromancy)1 scenes at the Hikawa shrine, where Rei uses the power of fire to consult with spirits and to get an understanding for what’s currently happening elsewhere or about to happen. What do I mean? Well, let’s get started!

The unfortunate and short answer to this question is that, quite simply, Shinto has no traditions of fire-reading or even smoke-reading. In fact, with the exception of the o-mikuji (paper strips telling the bearer’s fortune for the upcoming year or near future)2 that you can get at a shrine, the Shinto faith (if you can call it that) doesn’t really believe in telling the future at all. Shinto deals in the past (the connection between the god’s who created the Earth and their lineage through the reigning emperor) and the present (the spirits or gods which inhabit everything around us), but it has no real concept of the future or even much of an afterlife. For that reason alone, the many scenes of Rei kneeling down and consulting the great fire are a bit out of place, to say the least.

Speaking to the spirits?

Speaking to the spirits?

That’s not to say that fire-reading is completely without precedent in Japan, of course! A form of fire-reading – or, more accurately, pyromancy – was practiced in ancient China (and by connection, Japan) through what was known as oracle bones.3 The fortune teller would etch questions onto animal bones or turtle shells, put them into a fire, the bones/shells would heat up and explode, and then they would analyze how it broke and try to divine the future. This, however, fell out of practice a long time ago, with the last known examples showing up in the Zhou dynasty4 in China—around 771BC.

Jomon Fire-Reading Festival (1/2016)

Jomon Fire-Reading Festival (1/2016)

That being said, the practice isn’t entirely unheard of in Japan, even if it doesn’t have connection to Shinto as it’s actively practiced today. In fact, the city of Oyabe in Toyama prefecture5 holds an annual festival in January in which they bring together the dried husks from the rice harvest, bundle them into a giant tower, and burn them as part of a festival in order to see what the coming year holds.

There are also other so-called fire festivals (左義長; sagichou)6 held throughout Japan during January that date back to 1251 AD, but these are more symbolic festivals that have to do with lighting up the dark winter and bringing luck through the coming year, and less to do with trying to engage in any sort of fortune telling.

So what does this ultimately tell us? Is Rei’s fire-reading a sham or some sort of mistake made by Ms. Takeuchi and the creators of the Sailor Moon anime? Not at all! Pyromancy is very much a real form of fortune-telling (ignoring for a second whether or not we believe fortune-telling is real) and it’s even mentioned in Act 3 of the manga that it’s Rei herself who is spiritual and has mysterious powers, not exactly the connection to the Shinto shrine itself. It would only make sense that Rei, being the Sailor Soldier of fire, would find affinity with fire and would use it to focus her natural spiritual abilities.

Rei doing a tarot card reading

Rei doing a tarot card reading

Rei is also seen doing tarot card reading on several occasions in the manga, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she practices many different forms of fortune telling in order to channel her own connection with the spirits.

I guess the take-home lesson here is that while the fire meditation / fire-reading that Rei does throughout the Sailor Moon series may not actually be a part of the Shinto faith, it’s not entirely heard of in Japanese history and, moreover, ties directly into her role as the Sailor Mars: Soldier of Fire. More likely than not, as with the tarot cards she uses on several occasions throughout the manga, it’s more a manner of giving her something to focus on to center herself (much like how Ami uses swimming). In the end, it probably doesn’t really matter, but it’s at least nice to know that it’s a part of Rei as a character, and not a part of the greater Shinto connection!

How Did Naoko’s Part-Time Job Influence the Creation of Rei?

Our Eager Miko

Our Eager Miko

The answer to this question can be really short or surprisingly quite long, depending on how deep you want to get into it. Of course, the quick and easy answer is that “Rei is a miko because she lives at a Shinto shrine,” but like most things in the Sailor Moon universe, things aren’t that simple (nor would it be interesting if they were!). We’ve already discussed the interesting religious (in)significance of Rei attending a Catholic school, so let’s take a closer look at the inspirations behind her more obvious religious affiliations!

Fortunately for us, Ms. Takeuchi directly addresses this question in her ~~ Punch! question and answer segment added to the end of the re-released manga volumes around 2003/2004 (the shinsouban; “new editions”).1

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Why Does Rei Throw Her Ofuda at Enemies?

Mars and Her Signature Move

Mars and Her Signature Move

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been reading and watching the adventures of Sailor Moon for ten or even twenty years and have seen Rei throw these strips of shrine-blessed papers at enemies (and even Usagi) without ever once thinking “Well, that’s kind of strange. Throwing papers around seems like an odd way to go about things.” In fact, until I actually started reading up on this for a completely unrelated project, it just seemed so natural to me that of course she would be throwing papers around. I suppose this is because scenes like this actually appear in other anime and manga, so it just seems like yet another anime trope. But if that’s the case, where did it start? How did something like this get embedded into Japanese entertainment in the first place?

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