Does Usagi Need Her Brooch to Stay Sailor Moon?

So if that brooch was gone, then...?

So if that brooch was gone, then…?

“Moon Prism Power, Make up!!”

With those five simple words, the klutzy 14 year old crybaby Usagi Tsukino turns into the sailor-suited soldier of both love and justice, Sailor Moon. Once her power is unleashed, she’s able to fight the toughest monsters the enemy can throw at her, and… umm… heal the baddest of the bad?

What I’d like to talk about today is something that has been on my mind for awhile: does the brooch make Usagi into Sailor Moon, or is it just a way of channeling her inner power?

Hopefully you’ll join me on this in-depth look into the source of Sailor Moon’s power!

Need this – yea or nay?

Need this – yea or nay?

If a reporter were to approach me while I was on my way to work and ask me “is Sailor Moon’s brooch essential to her remaining transformed?” I probably would answer ‘yes’ on gut instinct alone.

After all, there are multiple scenes throughout the anime – and even the manga – where Usagi is detransformed (is that word?) by having her brooch damaged or removed.

And it’s not even just Sailor Moon, either. Sailor Mercury, for example, is shown to lose her transformation in Urawa’s premonition when her brooch (gem?) gets cut off.

Sailor Mercury vs. Bunbo (ep. 27)

Sailor Mercury vs. Bunbo (ep. 27)

Of course, I guess you could make the argument that it wasn’t really a premonition per se seeing as it didn’t actually come true, but I’m willing to accept it as legitimate since it also properly predicted that he would turn into Bunbo and that he would end up fighting Sailor Mercury.

What’s especially noteworthy about this is that, other than Sailor Moon and Sailor ChibiMoon, none of the other Sailor Soldiers even use a brooch to transform. Rather, they all use various pens, sticks, or in the case of the Outer Senshi, even lipstick.

So if even the other Sailor Soldiers will lose their transformation from losing their brooch – and we’re going to keep calling it a “brooch” for lack of a better term – then I think it’s a safe assumption that Sailor Moon needs it too.

To the best of my knowledge, Usagi has had her brooch taken/damaged and lost her transformation a total of four times in the series:

  1. Episode 51 in her battle against the cherry-blossom Cardian, Leshy
  2. Sailor Moon R Movie in her battle against Fiore
  3. Episode 90 in her battle against the shinto-inspired Daimon, Mikuuji
  4. Episode 199 in her battle against Galaxia
Episode 51, R Movie, Episode 90, and Episode 199

Episode 51, R Movie, Episode 90, and Episode 199

Before you start writing comments, let me point out that I’m aware Sailor Moon and other members of the Sailor Team have lost their transformations for other reasons throughout the series. However, that’s beyond the scope of this article. The question is whether the brooch is essential.

So with all that proof out there, we’re pretty much ready to call it a day, right? I mean, we’re five for five, and that’s just because I’m too lazy to look for if there are any more scenes with the rest of the Sailor Soldiers.

Of course, there wouldn’t really be any point in me writing this long post and dragging my answer out like this if there wasn’t a catch.

You see, in all two-hundred episodes of the anime’s run, episode 85 is the first and only time we see Sailor Moon take her brooch off. And she stays transformed.

Ep 85, very much without a brooch

Ep 85, very much without a brooch

Why? Well, personally, I suspect she did it just to spite me. But that’s neither here nor there.

Usagi, in her bid to turn ChibiUsa back from the villainous Wicked Black Lady, removes her brooch and summons all of her power as Sailor Moon to remove the darkness from ChibiUsa’s heart.

Taking this into consideration and looking back at all the other evidence mentioned earlier, we really only have three conclusions we can reach:

Episode 85 was a fluke

While this is a tempting explanation, when you run a blog entirely on the concept of analyzing every minute detail, no matter how trivial, the last thing you want to do is start discounting random details that don’t back up your point. Besides, I think we can justify this anyway, so let’s pass on that.

The damage caused her to detransform the other times

Also a tempting explanation, but it frankly doesn’t make any sense. Sailor Moon’s brooch being damaged or destroyed is a pretty central theme to the four aforementioned scenes. Also, that wouldn’t explain Sailor Mercury in the battle against Bunbo, or the fact that the Sailor Soldiers didn’t transform back when they died in the final battle against the Dark Kingdom.

The Tragic Passing of the Sailor Soldiers

Pretty sure they’re still transformed…

She needs an intact brooch to be Sailor Moon

After taking into account all of the evidence we see throughout the series, I think we can fit the information together to reach a reasonable conclusion.

Basically, we see that damage to her brooch makes her lose her transformation as Sailor Moon, and we also see that having it removed from her chest does the same. Taken as a whole, I think we can reach the conclusion that because Usagi was holding the brooch the entire time, she was still able to maintain her power and stay as Sailor Moon.

When you look back at her transformation, and how she uses the brooch to transform to begin with, it’s actually not all that surprising. But it does lead to some interesting questions over how things work for the other Sailor Soldiers.

If Sailor Saturn, for example, wanted to take her brooch off and play with it, I’m guessing she’d be fine. But if she took it off and used it like a shuriken, then she’d turn back to the moe-powered Hotaru Tomoe.

Please don't try this at home, Hotaru

Please don’t try this at home, Hotaru

At least that’s my take on the situation. What’s yours? Do you think that the brooch is the source of their power as sailor-suited magical warriors, or was it just a plot convenience and a way for the animation staff to drum up some extra drama during some key, transitional scenes?

And how do you interpret the episode 85, brooch-holding scene? I’d love to get some other insights into all this!

20 thoughts on “Does Usagi Need Her Brooch to Stay Sailor Moon?

  1. in full agreement on your assessment of Sailor Moon’s brooch (and by extension Chibi Moon). I think for the other senshi however (Saturn and her lack of transformation not withstanding) I don’t think their brooches hold the power. I think it is their transformation sticks/wands.

  2. I always saw the Sailor Mercury vs Bunbo premonition scene as her costume being sliced to shreds by his Swiss army knife arms, not as a detransformation. The animators couldn’t depict her flesh being brutally slashed since it’s a kids’ show, so they did it to her costume to suggest the brutality instead. At least that was how I saw it!

    I don’t remember any examples of the Inners detransforming because of damage to their brooches either… Then again, the bad guys never went for them the way they did for Sailor Moon’s for obvious reasons.

    Anyways, I had totally forgotten about ep85! Thanks for the reminder ;).

  3. If I could perhaps suggest my own theory. Is that it’s possible the Broach (and indeed other magical objects) posses a form of semi-sentience, and is symbiotically connected to Usagi in a way that it instinctively knows what’s going on and reacts accordingly. Given how emotion driven Sailor Moon is, its probably not to far outside of the realms of plausibility.

    If for example it experiences a traumatic sensation. Either by being forcibly removed, damaged or drained, it triggers a kind of emergency lock down. Putting itself in a form of stasis to conserve power, until it can be replenished.
    But when Usagi takes it off willingly or wants to lend its power to someone else, it’s aware of her intentions and maintains (possibly within a certain range). the transformation. Again the idea that it became an extension of Usagi herself after first contact, rather then just an item.

    On an extra note, given that Urawa quite fancies Ami. One could snidely imply he may have subconsciously injected a bit of his err ‘desires’ into that vision…

  4. I think the brooch is essential to Sailor Moon (I’m not sure about the other senshi) staying transformed. I think that the only time removing the brooch doesn’t cause her to detransform is when she takes it off herself willingly. As I said I don’t know about the other senshi, but if the same logic applies I think Saturn could use her brooch as a shiruken without a problem because I don’t think whether they’re holding it or not makes much of a difference.

    • Hmm, that’s an interesting idea! In that case, I wonder how far the idea could be taken? Tiara and gloves are probably fair game, but how much of the sailor uniform is actually required for them to be a “sailor soldier,” I wonder?

  5. This is an interesting article.
    As far as I’m concerned, the transformation brooch is necessary for Sailor Moon to stay transformed.

    As you mentioned above, Sailor Moon loses her transformation when her brooch is removed or damaged.
    But, in addition, she also de-transforms when her brooch loses its energy to maintain her transformation.
    In episode 91, the Silver Crystal inside the brooch lost its glow, and her gloves, boots, and sailor suit soon turned into transformation ribbons.
    Of course I know it occurred in Usagi’s nightmare, but I’d like to say Usagi, at least, feels the loss of the energy from the brooch makes her transformation undone because she dreamed about such a situation.
    And the Sailor Moon SuperS Movie is also the good example.
    When Chibiusa lost her transformation and got stuck in mid-transformation state, Sailor Moon provided her transformation energy from her brooch to Chibiusa’s.
    It indicates that the brooch plays an essential role to maintain their transformations.

    Moreover, episode 187 implies the necessity of the brooch, too.
    In that episode, Eternal Sailor Moon showed a strong resistance when Sailor Aluminum Siren tried to rip off her brooch.
    I guess Sailor Moon would dread to lost her transformation.
    (She would be sucked under a wave of ribbons emitted from her brooch if Siren succeeded to remove it.)

    The reason Sailor Moon stays transformed in episode 85 is very simple.
    The brooch is under her control in that episode, although detached from her chest, but when her transformation is undone, the brooch is always in enemy’s hand.
    In episode 84, Sailor Moon took off her brooch like in episode 85, but she kept herself transformed.
    And presumably did so in episode 169 because she transformed into Eternal Sailor Moon directly from Super Sailor Moon form.
    (She hold her “gloved” hand above the new brooch to transform into eternal form. It means that she detached and held the brooch high staying in Super form.)

    • Thanks for the detailed review! I definitely think you’re right – it seems like having the brooch somehow in contact with her body (or under her control?) is the deciding factor.
      I know there are at least 1-2 scenes in the manga where she has similar detransformations… I need to check them out.

  6. Episode 85, no any time in the Black Moon arc she holds her brooch off of herself, she is in control of her Transformation, but say when Dimond took her and caused her to go unconscious, once her brooch came off she was no longer awake ti maintain her Sailor form, aside from thatshe hardly removes the brooch, only opening it to get the Silver Crystal out when she needs it, yep. That all I got. XD

    • Seems like that’s pretty much the best consensus we can reach here – as long as the brooch is still under her control, then she can still maintain her transformation… I guess??

  7. I’m surprised no one has explicitly pointed out she takes her brooch off multiple times to use the ginzuishou inside to heal baddies of the day and the Black Moon Clan’s sisters in Classic anime.

    • The Crystal Star Brooch is used the longest since in Sailor moon R (I don’t know the name of the arc in between The Dark Kingdom and Black moon arcs)she has it after her mother Queen Serenity gave it to her as a gift and it was used even in the Black Moon arc.The Cosmic Heart Brooch is also used two seasons, but only for the first few few episodes of Sailor moon Super S making the Crystal Star Brooch the most used in the whole series.

  8. Didn’t she take it off each time she healed the four sisters from the Black Moon, as well?

  9. I think we’re overlooking the two major instances in which Usagi being without her brooch becomes a major plot point: when Chibiusa steals it from her in R and when Kaolinite has it in S. In both instances, Usagi is unable to transform at all, leading to some relly dire consequences.
    I think those alone make it pretty clear that the brooch being in Usagi’s possession (not necessarily physically attachied to her fuku) and undamaged is necessary for her to achieve and sustain her transformation. After all, from R on, the brooch contains the Silver Crystal which is effectively the physical manifestation of Usagi’s mystical energy.

  10. I think that if Sailor Moon takes off her brooch of her own volition instead of it being forcibly taken, her transformation will stay intact. Episode 85 isn’t the only time she removed her brooch, she also removed her brooch each time she healed one of the Akayashi Sisters.

  11. This is the kind of thing that agonized me when trying to put the characters into an RPG system, because in Superhero-themed ones in particular, “Losing an Item” depowering you is the kind of thing that can offer you big discounts compared to just needing something to transform- Iron Man’s armor, for example, is cheaper than the sum of its parts because it can be taken off or damaged.

    But of course, the show never explicitly SAYS this; it just shows her losing powers as the brooch is damaged or grabbed. It COULD just be a visual “trick” to get us to have a better symbol to see “depowered Sailor Moon”, but then it’s an oddly specific one.

  12. You’re not going to be happy about this buuuuut Sailor Moon takes her brooch off several times and still stays transformed. I’m Sailor Moon R every time she turns the Black Moon Sisters good she is going her brooch on the air while wearing her white gloves.

  13. Yes she needs her brooch if You took it from her with violence or damage the brooch she lost her Powers, the Crystal inside the brooch has the power , the brooch only holds it

    Without it she can’t fight at all

  14. I think that the brooch is just a source for her power, so when a enemy takes it, they take that power. This can be proven since the silver crystal resides in it, and sine that’s her star seed, she needs it to transform. But when she takes her brooch off her by herself, it’s her power so she doesn’t take it away. So she doesn’t specifically need her brooch, just the silver crystal inside it.

  15. When it concerns the 90s anime, certainly so on many levels. However, if we apply the knowledge that in the brooch is her crystal – later identified as her star seed – I think it’s safe to consider the brooch is more a container/suppressor (given enemies can never figure out SM is Usagi until the reveal) than something neccesary to transformation.

    This isn’t to say the above scenes lose proof or context; on the contrary to be honest. Exploring what makes her SM is partially a journey of learning there’s more to her than the power granted by the crystal/brooch. So I personally believe detransformation happens due to HER belief that the brooch is the key (refer to the S ep where she loses her powers due to fear). Progression would then prove she, herself, is the key.

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