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!
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.
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.
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.
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? 🤔
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! 😇
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.
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!