What Were Some of the Inspirations Behind Tuxedo Mask?

The many masks of Tuxedo Mask

The many masks of Tuxedo Mask

Ah, Mamoru – the “cool” guy that young boys wanted to be and young girls wanted to be with. Putting aside his absolutely atrocious fashion sense for a moment, it’s hard to deny that the image of Tuxedo Mask is nearly just as recognizable as that of Sailor Moon herself.

Today we’re going to take a quick look at some of the characters Ms. Takeuchi looked to for inspiration when she created Tuxedo Mask, and her reasons behind making him wear a tuxedo in the first place.

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How Uncommon Are the Names of the Sailor Moon Characters?

The Sailor Team like to think they have pretty normal names...

The Sailor Team like to think they have pretty normal names…

We’ve discussed on several occasions the difficulties involved in localization, particularly when it comes to names, but we haven’t often discussed the names of the main characters themselves (with some exceptions), and how uncommon or strange they may seem. In fact, when the Sailor Moon manga was first being localized into English by Mixxzine1 (before being moved to Smile2 and then serialized by Tokyopop)3 – one of the first magazines for localized manga to be widely distributed in the U.S. – there was a lot of debate among fans over how Usagi’s name was localized.

While many fans either preferred the name Serenaas used in DiC’s localization of the anime, many other fans expressed an affinity for the Japanese original name. Mixx’s choice to translate Usagi’s name literally as Bunny was divisive to say the least. On one side of the argument, you could say that this is how Japanese readers interpreted the name—as a word found in the dictionary. On the other, one could argue that just like Dick Dastardly4 and many other children’s cartoons in the West, the name is simply an extra to give you further insight into the character.

Since there’s no “correct” solution to this issue of nuance in Japanese being lost in localization, I think it’s worth taking a look at this issue from another direction: just how made up are the names of the Sailor Moon cast, and are they really as obscure and fictional as we’ve all been led to believe? How many people can there actually be who are named “… of the moon,” anyway?

Neo Queen Princess Usagi Serena Bunny Serenity Tsukino

Neo Queen Princess Usagi Serena Bunny Serenity Tsukino

There are at least 251 households named Tsukino.

According to this index5 of 19,661,494 Japanese phone book listings, at least. Another site, which uses both phone records and and government census data,6 says that there are approximately 1,500 people with the last name Tsukino, making it the 6,402nd most popular last name in Japan. The site also provides an interesting look into the origin of the last name:

現鹿児島県東部である大隅国曽於郡月野が起源(ルーツ)である。近年、鹿児島県に多数みられる。 「野」は自然のままの広い地を表す。

The origin of the name is the village of Tsukino in the Soo district of Oosumi province in what is now the eastern part of present-day Kagoshima prefecture. There are many with the name found in Kagoshima prefecture. The character for “no” (野) means a wide-open natural space.

That’s right, if you were to go to Soo county in Kagoshima,7 you could very well meet someone named Tsukino. So in terms of realism, how do the rest of the characters fare?

Name No. Households Ranking Most Common In
Tsukino 251~1,500 6,402 Kagoshima
Mizuno 26,216~175,000 105 Aichi
Hino 4~20 64,633 Oita
Kino 1,284~8,700 1,811 Shizuoka
Aino 21~140 26,233 Hokkaido
Chiba 34~230 19,895 Yamagata
Tenoh 13~80 36,041 Hiroshima
Kaioh 0 NA NA
Tomoe 0 NA NA
Meioh 0 NA NA
Osaka 172~1,200 7,346 Osaka

I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Mizuno would be that common of a last name (almost breaking into the top 100!) considering that there’s the Mizuno Corporation,8 a popular brand of sports equipment. More than anything else, though, I was surprised to see that nearly all of the last names of the main cast (with the exception of Michiru, Hotaru, and Setsuna) actually exist in the real world. Even Ms. Naru Osaka, who I always figured was a pure parody name, actually has some real-world relatives in the – big surprise! – Osaka region of Japan.

The Lovely Ms. Osaka

The Lovely Ms. Osaka

So there you have it! Though obviously Ms. Takeuchi picked the character names in order to match them with their representative planets as well as their chosen element and, to be honest, it may simply be a pure coincidence that any of these are real-world names at all, I for one am glad to see that there is at least one more touch of reality in the world of Sailor Moon.

And for anyone who’s curious – no, there’s no one in Japan that I could find named Usagi. Too bad!

Who Was the Original Tuxedo Mask?

The Fiend With Twenty Faces (1977)

The Fiend With Twenty Faces (1977)

While the idea of a masked hero coming to save the day isn’t exactly novel or unique, nor was Sailor Moon the first media in which one appeared, one thing that always did seem special about Tuxedo Mask was that he dressed up in such a fancy outfit while he did it. In some odd way, it seems oddly fitting for a high school/college student to dress in a suit and cape while throwing roses to save sailor-suited soldiers of justice. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that there’s actually quite a bit of history to the creation of the character of Tuxedo Mask, from a popular Japanese character based on the Japanese adaptation of a French story, and has connections going back nearly one hundred years, and even has overlaps with the Sherlock Holme franchise. So who was the source of inspiration for Tuxedo Mask, and where did Ms. Takeuchi pick up the basis for his design?

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Did Moonlight Knight Make a Mistake in French?

The Moonlight Night... er.. Knight!

The Moonlight Night… er.. Knight!

Moonlight Knight is a bit of an oddball character in the Sailor Moon anime, as he’s one of the few “hero” characters that exist only in the anime with no manga connections at all. The whole Cardian Arc1 was completely made up for the anime only, supposedly to give Ms. Takeuchi a chance to prepare her next story arc while the anime rushed ahead of her, though I’ve always suspected that the true purpose of this was to give them a sort of teaser for the upcoming Sailor Moon R movie. That, however, is a story for another time. What we’re here to look at is: what’s with Moonlight Knight’s use of French?

* Not a subtitling error

* Not a subtitling error

Possibly even more than Tuxedo Mask himself, Moonlight Knight was fond of long, dramatic speeches.2 More interesting to me, though, is what he said when he departed. Despite his strong Arabian design, Moonlight Knight always leaves the Sailor Team with a fancy “adieu.” What’s noteworthy about this is that it appears to have been a mistake by the anime production staff, directly translating his さようなら (sayounara; good bye) into something more fancy-sounding without looking into the cultural context. The issue here is that adieu implies that you don’t believe that you will see the other party again (at least not soon), and that you are saying good bye with a sense of finality. What he should have said was au revoir, which is used when you do believe that you will be crossing paths in the near future.3

While I would like to say that there was some sort of deeper meaning to this word choice and over-analyze the issue, I’m afraid that this is pretty much clearly a case of not having done the appropriate cultural research. If I were to read into the issue, however, I would say that you could make the assertion that this was Moonlight Knight’s way of expressing that he hoped he and Mamoru would soon re-join (i.e., Mamoru’s physical / human form and his sense of duty to protect the Sailor Soldiers) and was bidding them farewell. Put another way, by implying he would see them again would suggest that Moonlight Knight did not intend to return to Mamoru and resume his activities in the form of Tuxedo Mask.

Of course, this is probably looking way too into it, but it’s at least an interesting tidbit, if nothing else! Since Mamoru is a university student in the anime, and many university students are required to learn a second foreign language (other than English), it’s entirely plausible that he did study some French. You’re pretty clever, Mamoru!

How Was Mamoru Affected by His Amnesia?

Usagi brings Mamoru a Rose (Sailor Moon R Movie)

Usagi brings Mamoru a Rose (Sailor Moon R Movie)

While we know that Mamoru was pretty different between the manga and the anime and that his alter-ego Tuxedo Mask wasn’t spared from changes, it’s also worth taking a look at how one of the more notable traits about Mamoru – his amnesia – was treated between the two versions. As happens with a great majority of the cast of Sailor Moon, it all starts with the tragic death of Mamoru’s parents, when he’s six years old (according to the manga, on his sixth birthday). As the story goes, he and his family get into a car accident and he’s the only survivor, though he’s been left with amnesia. This is where I think things get interesting.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about what this amnesia means for a bit. Though we usually talk about amnesia as one big, abstract thing, there are actually multiple forms. What is typically referred to in the Sailor Moon series is the form where, due to some form of emotional or physical trauma, you lose your memories of events leading up to it. This is known as retrograde amnesia.1 While this is made out to be a big thing, when you think about it, it actually has very little impact on him. If he lost all of his memories at six years old and, at the time of the series, he’s 16 or 18 years old (in the manga and anime, respectively), that would mean that he’s spent more years gaining new memories than he’s lost. In fact, due to a phenomenon known as childhood amnesia,2 most people don’t remember anything prior to the age of three.

The Chiba Family (Act 7, vol. 2, p. 53)

The Chiba Family (Act 7, vol. 2, p. 53)

Now, I don’t mean to trivialize his hardship, but that means that Mamoru had 10-12 years to rebuild and make new memories to replace the three years of his life that he forgot. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that it’s actually a relatively minor issue, in the grand scheme of things. In fact, manga Mamoru doesn’t seem terribly affected by this other than mentioning concern over whether he really is Mamoru Chiba and that he has dreams of a woman telling him to find the Silver Crystal.3 What about anime Mamoru, then?

Mamoru's Transformation (ep. 19)

Mamoru’s Transformation (ep. 19)

Unfortunately, from what we see throughout the anime, he’s much worse off here. Not only does he suffer amnesia from before the accident, he also seems to suffer from occasional bouts of what’s known as anterograde amnesia,4 i.e., losing track of time and failing to create new memories as things happen. This seems to occur in conjunction with his transformation into Tuxedo Mask which, unlike in the manga, he’s actually unaware of his alternate identity entirely.

In Mamoru’s big reveal as Tuxedo Mask in the anime,5 upon sensing that Sailor Moon is in trouble trying to save Naru from Nephrite in his costume as the Tuxedo Mask imposter, Mamoru suddenly suffers from a massive headache as he’s walking down the street and drops to his knees before transforming into Tuxedo Mask.

What’s interesting here is that as he’s falling down, he says:

「ま、またか、頭がッ」 (ma, mataka, atama ga…)

“N.. not again, my head!”

So it seems that all of his transformations into Tuxedo Mask are not only happening without his knowledge, but he’s also left without any memories of it either.

I think it’s definitely interesting to see how both the manga and anime took the impact of the accident on Mamoru to completely different places. While it affected his sense of self in the manga (his sense of a missing past), more than anything else it seems to have caused a rift inside him in the anime, leading to the creation of Tuxedo Mask as a separate identity and his loss of memories during his transformation. Now if only someday someone would explain where all that money came from!

How Different Was Tuxedo Mask in the Anime and Manga?

The Dueling Masks

The Dueling Masks

Second only to Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask was one of the original suited soldiers of justice fighting for peace and love on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. In addition to the rather substantial differences between anime and manga Mamoru, Tuxedo Mask (when taken as an individual character) was also rather different between the two. Today, we’re going to look at a few of those differences.

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How Smart Is Mamoru in the Anime and Manga?

Mamoru Flexing His Intelligence

Mamoru Flexing His Intelligence

One of the well-known – yet often forgotten – facts about Mamoru’s character is that he’s not only tall, mysterious, rich, and handsome, but he’s actually quite brilliant. In fact, if you were to judge by the levels of the schools he attends, he’s arguably on level with – or even above! – Ami. Of course we’ve already mentioned that Mamoru was changed from a high school student to a university student in the transition from manga to anime, but that actually has very little impact on the conclusions we can make, for reasons we’ll discuss below. So just how smart is Mamoru Chiba? Let’s find out!

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