How Did Sailor Neptune End Up in Season 1 of Sailor Moon?

Wait a sec... is that...?

Wait a sec… is that…?

If there’s one thing I love more than tackling modern day Sailor Moon rumors, it’s finally putting to rest stories that have been with the fandom since its earliest days. And today I’m happy to say that we’re going to talk about just one of those stories!

That’s right, we’re going to talk about the supposed blink-and-you’ll-miss-it inclusion of Sailor Neptune in the first season of Sailor Moon, a whole two seasons and a little over a year before she ever was unveiled to the public.

Is it really the Sailor Neptune we all know and love? And if so, how did she get there?

Well, you’ll just have to read on to find out!

Let's set the scene here first

Let’s set the scene here first

For those of you wondering what I’m ranting and raving about, I’m talking about episode 44 of the first season, where we learn about the war with the Earth, the deaths of Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion, and the fall of the Moon Kingdom.

As the fatally-wounded Queen Serenity watched everything fall to ruin around her, she used the last of her energy to seal away Queen Metalia and the forces of the Dark Kingdom and reincarnate the denizens of the Silver Millennium at some undefined point in the future.

The next scene is where our story begins.

As Queen Serenity’s magic begins to take effect, we see all of the (supposedly dead?) people on the Moon being surrounded by magical yellow bubbles and start floating off into space, ultimately making their way to Earth.

♪ ... and they shot him into space! ♪

♪ … and they shot him into space! ♪

We see the four Inner Soldiers, Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion, and a bunch of shadowy figures filling out the background.

Except one of the background characters is not only has some detail drawn in, but looks distinctly like a Sailor Soldier. And not just a generic Sailor Soldier, either. She’s a dead ringer for Sailor Neptune.

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This has been a source of debate among fans since… well, as long as I can remember. Who is this woman, and what is she doing there? Considering that this came out in 1993 — a whole 13 months before we get our first glimpse of the character1 — this obviously can’t be Michiru… right?

Up until recently, all we’ve been able to do is state the obvious: Michiru wasn’t yet a character in the series, so there’s absolutely no way it could be her.

Animator Hisashi Kagawa

Animator Hisashi Kagawa

However, by a sheer stroke of luck, we’re finally able to put this mystery to bed thanks to an explanation provided over Twitter by Hisashi Kagawa, the animation director who was in charge of this very scene.2

A Twitter user asked:3

I’ve always wondered about this. The person between Serenity and Endymion in episode 44 is Neptune, right? Am I the only one who thought so? 🤔

Do you happen to remember this, Hisashi Kagawa? 🤔

The scene in question

The scene in question

Much to my surprise, Mr. Kagawa actually responded to this user over the course of several tweets and provided some background, at least to the best that he could remember, on how this scene came to by and why he designed the character in question the way he did.

Well, it looks like some people are wondering about this, so I guess I’ll answer. 😅 Remember that nothing I say should be taken as official!
This might crush a few dreams, 💦 and my memory’s a bit hazy about all this anyway.
I did, in fact, draw this scene. However, it was not meant to be Sailor Neptune. 😓 This was quite awhile before she appeared, and she probably hadn’t even been created yet.

He then goes on to explain:

I had figured that there would probably be other Sailor Soldiers other than the ones we saw in the series, so I decided to handle that by drawing the small silhouette of a character. However, just by chance, the colors I just threw together happened to end up being close to Sailor Neptune’s! 🤔 … at least that’s what I think happened. 😅

That’s about as much as I remember about this! 😇

Guess that puts an end to this time-traveling myth!

Guess that puts an end to this time-traveling myth!

While I doubt that there were all that many fans out there that truly believed that this was actually Sailor Neptune, I’m still amazed that we were got an answer to this over 25 years — a quarter of a century! — after this episode first aired. It gives me faith that maybe, just maybe, we might actually get some answers to some of the other things Sailor Moon fans have been debating for just as long.

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And maybe another 25 years in the future, maybe we’ll finally get some questions answered about Sailor Moon Crystal. Maybe.

So! If you could ask someone involved in the Sailor Moon franchise one question about the series, what would you ask? Maybe if I’m really lucky, I’ll have another chance to interview some of the other members of the production staff!


References:

  1. Episode 44 aired on February 13, 1993 while Uranus and Neptune first appeared, in silhouette form at least, in episode 89 — airing on March 12, 1994
  2.  See this February 19, 2019 tweet by @DanngoDaisuki
  3. See this February 19, 2019 tweet by @zoi_moon

17 thoughts on “How Did Sailor Neptune End Up in Season 1 of Sailor Moon?

  1. Amazing! I’m a friend of Kagawa sensei and I just writing an articole about it! Lol!! Let’s go ti solve all mistery! We are the sailor detective team. Lol!

  2. Perhaps Naoko Takeuchi decided to develop this (then) unknown character into Sailor Neptune when she started to work on S/Infinity?

  3. Personally, I always believed it wasn’t a coincidence… As in Naoko noticed it and based Sailor Neptune’s looks on that mystery Sailor Soldier, either because she liked the design or because “why not”.

    • That would definitely be interesting if she took a one-shot background character and turned her into one of the major players of Sailor Moon S!

  4. How do you keep finding things like this?? I think if you were a detective, you’d be figuring out unsolved crimes from decades ago at a record pace.

    I think everyone knew it was very unlikely that Sailor Neptune had been designed at this point, and unlikely that they would choose to hide a preview of her character in the background two seasons before she would actually appear in the series.

    But I’m still claiming that character is Sailor Neptune. Sure, he had no idea who he was drawing. But it was intended to be a sailor senshi and it looks exactly like Neptune and fits the story perfectly… it might just be a coincidence, but it’s too good of a coincidence to ignore.

    And what’s the next best explanation? That it’s a girl who loves the sailor senshi and happened to do some Sailor Neptune cosplay on the day that Beryl invaded? Of course that’s not impossible, but how likely is that?

    Oh… I’ve gone and ruined it for myself by rewatching that scene. As you can see here https://i.imgur.com/XfZ8hI4.jpg there are TWO green haired characters in the same outfit. The first one at the top of the screen has longer hair. I can’t even pretend that it’s Neptune’s bubble shown from another angle, because it’s in the exact same shot as the second “Neptune”. It’s too bad, but it looks like the animator chose the same colors for both, and chose them because the colors are dark enough to blend into the background without being a fully shadowed character.

    Unless I want to try to convince myself that the first “Neptune” is Sailor Pluto, who happened to be having a bad hair day and wasn’t wearing her tall boots for some reason… then yeah, I guess the Silver Millennium had cosplayers, or at least short dresses modeled after the senshi’s outfits. Or… maybe only the first one was a cosplayer and the second one is actually Michiru? lol…

    • Unless I want to try to convince myself that the first “Neptune” is Sailor Pluto, who happened to be having a bad hair day and wasn’t wearing her tall boots for some reason… then yeah, I guess the Silver Millennium had cosplayers, or at least short dresses modeled after the senshi’s outfits.

      Unfortunately it couldn’t be Pluto, because she didn’t die during the Silver Millennium. She stayed back to guard the gates of time well into the 30th century, where the events of Crystal Tokyo take place in Sailor Moon R. She only dies in the future, then is reincarnated back in the past (modern era).

      But I definitely agree that they pretty much just drew the same character twice, which is a real shame. However, I still think it’s still really cool that even back in season 1 they were still thinking about the possibility that there were more Sailor Soldiers out there.

    • If I remember correctly, during Sailor Moon: Another Story the Silver Millennium NPCs are dressed in sailor solider outfits. Probably no connection but an interesting coincidence.

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  6. There is a problem with that because what is reveled in Sailor Moon S. I believe after the Queen Serenity’s death Neptune, Uranus, & Pluto ended up at the Moon Kingdom, then their talismans summon Saturn who then destroys the Moon Kingdom. It’s after that the Uranus & Neptune are killed & their souls go to Earth & Pluto returns to her station @ the Spacetime door.

    • If I recall correctly (and I could be totally wrong — I haven’t had my coffee yet), isn’t that part of the story only applicable to the manga? I don’t recall it ever being explicitly stated that Sailor Saturn was the one to destroy the Moon Kingdom in the anime.

      At the very least, it would contradict the whole scene since Queen Serenity is clearly the one to use the power of the Silver Crystal to lock away Queen Metalia and her minions and send everyone to Earth.

  7. So technically it COULD be Sailor Neptune, and all these years I thought I was just imagining things!
    Good to know there may even be more to this story if Naoko did copy these colors and design.

  8. This is so funny because I used to think about that too as a kid and I do not remember, but I do believe it was before I saw sailor moon s I think I had seen photos of Sailor Neptune. It was either that or I watched Sailor moon s and then rewatched this scene. It is interesting that he thought there would be more sailor soldiers because in fact there were so it is interesting that it was done with that in mind. The only question I have was why the outer soldiers did not appear more often after s and why did they not put them in supers.

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