How Did Ail and An’s Cardians Get Their Names?

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

While the whole Monster of the Day (MotD) concept is one of the more memorable aspects of the battles the Sailor Team take part in during their various adventures, it’s easy to forget that this was really more of an invention of the anime than anything else. This is, of course, all doubly true when it comes to the Cardian Arc of Sailor Moon R since… well… there was no corresponding story line in the manga.  While in Ms. Takeuchi’s manga, many of the MotD (be they youma, droids, or otherwise) actually went unnamed since they were one-off, throwaway characters, fortunately for us it seems that the anime had a penchant for creatively (generally pun-related) names. As with the youma of the Dark Kingdom, Ail and An’s Cardians don’t disappoint with their names. Let’s take a look at where they came from!

The Cardians

It probably goes without saying, but the name “Cardian” itself is a play off of both “card” and “guardian,” though the idea of them being guardians is a bit ironic when you think about the fact that they exist to help Ail and An steal energy from humans and fight against the Sailor Soldiers. However, it you look at it from Ail and An’s point of view, I suppose you could easily consider them to be guardians of sorts! Individually, though, is where it gets interesting.

  • Vampir: Due to her sucking energy (from our favorite victim, Naru!) for the Doom Tree (Makaiju), it’s pretty obvious that she got her name from the English word “vampire,” though the plant connection seems to just have been added in without any relation to the name.
    • As an interesting bit of trivia, Vampir was voiced by no other than Megumi Ogata, the same voice actress who voiced Haruka Tenoh!
  • Minotauron: Based obviously in both design and abilities on the Minotaur1 of Greek mythology. As for the “~ron” part of the name? This appears to be related to an obscure French term for a cut of beef between the neck and the shoulder, talon.2 You may also recognize this name from Talon, the owner of Lon Lon Ranch3 in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and beyond.
  • Phalion: You’ll often see the name of this character romanized with an f (rather than a ph), but considering the character’s design appears to be based on that of a sphinx (note that this is not the Sphinx, but a sphinx – a monster in Greek mythology said to be made up of a lion’s body and a female head)4 I think that the beginning part of the name, the “Pha / Fa,” is actually a word play with Pharaoh (which is written similarly in Japanese), hence the spelling.
  • Hell Ant: This is one of those Cardians that, to an English speaker, is pretty straight forward. She’s basically an ant. From hell.
  • Leshy: This is another name that you’re likely to see written differently on the web, usually as “Reci.” The Japanese spelling is an exact match with the Japanese spelling for Leshy,5 a spirit of the woods from Russian fairy tales. Considering the mythological basis for the rest of the characters and that she attacks during cherry blossom season (and from a tree, no less), this seems like a more proper connection.
  • Gigaros: The name is a play on both the Greek word giga– meaning huge6 and the Japanese name for Icarus.7
    • According to an interview with Takuya Igarashi,8, an episode director for Sailor Moon R, this was actually the first Cardian designed.9
  • Amaderasu: Continuing our mythological theme, this time the reference goes back into Japanese mythology, as this monster is pretty clearly named after Amaterasu,10 one of the first gods in the Shinto religion and the goddess of the sun. Her name may also be a play off of Amadeus, since they’re spelled so similarly in Japanese.
  • Seiren: This Cardian’s name is a pretty clear connection to the Siren11 of Greek mythology. The separt of the name, though, may be a pun in reference to the Japanese kanji for “voice” – 声 – which can be read as sei.
  • Utonberino: One of those names that absolutely doesn’t localize well, this is the Japanese word for a traditional boxed lunch, 海苔弁当 (noribentou; nori boxed lunch)12 written backwards. This is obviously where the character design comes from. It’s not exactly apparent in English, but when you break it up as no-ri be-n-to-u and u-to-n-be ri-no, you can see it easier.
  • Bipierrot: Named after pierrot,13 a mime of sorts in traditional French theater and the Japanese word for clown, the connection is pretty obvious. As for where the bi part of the name comes from, my best guess is that it’s the same as the one used in used in Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン; bishoujo senshi se-ra-mu-n), since bi here means “pretty” or “beautiful” and often is used for female-related words.
    • According to an interview with Noriyo Sasaki,14 an episode director, the original inspiration for Bipierrot was Doink the Clown,15 a WWF wrestler popular at the time.16
  • Amanju: Once again we go back to Japanese folklore for inspiration, this time to the amanojaku,17 a demon which is said to provoke one’s darkest desires. This would explain the connection with reading everyone’s minds, though judging by the horns and all, the design seems to be based off of a standard Japanese oni.18
  • Yamandakka: While the appearance is obvious – an Asura19 from Buddhist mythology – the basis for her name is a bit of a mystery to me. The best possible answer I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s a play on the Japanese term for Asura which are depicted with three faces and six arms, a design known as 三面六臂 (sanmenroppi).20 If you were to yaman could be an altered reading of 四面 (four faces) and 足花 (legs, flower; read as da and ka respectively).
The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

And there you have it! Once again, the various animators, directors, and all the staff who worked on the Sailor Moon anime don’t disappoint when it comes to making creative and interesting character names. Though some of them are a bit obvious to native English speakers, like the Ail, An, and Fiore connections, it’s nice to see all of the different mythologies tied together. And who would have known that a wrestling star would be the inspiration for a character!

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  1.  See Minotaur (Wikipedia)
  2.  See this French chart about beef
  3.  See Lon Lon Ranch
  4.  See Sphinx
  5. See Leshy (Wikipedia)
  6.  See Giga- (Wikipedia)
  7.  See Icarus (Wikipedia)
  8. See Takuya Igarashi (Wikipedia)
  9. See Animage vol. 195 for the reference to the interview
  10.  See Amaterasu (Wikipedia)
  11.  See Siren (Wikipedia)
  12. See Noribentou (Wikipedia)
  13.  See Pierrot (Wikipedia)
  14.  See Noriyo Sasaki
  15. See Doink the Clown
  16. See Animage vol. 195 for the reference to the interview
  17.  See Amanojaku (Wikipedia)
  18.  See Oni (Wikipedia)
  19.  See Asura (Wikipedia)
  20.  See Sanmenroppi

7 thoughts on “How Did Ail and An’s Cardians Get Their Names?

  1. Hello there. I’ve been looking at the site a little and enjoy it. I love learning something new about the monsters of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon.

    I disagree with two of the cardian names you provide though. The first cardian’s name is written ヴァンピル which is very similar to how the Japanese usually write the French word vampire (ヴァンピール, see here), so it’s reasonable to assume she’s named after the French word and not the English. The other is the final cardian. It looks to me like she was named after the Buddhist Wisdom King Yamantaka (see here). ヤーマンダッカ looks like just a slight altering of ヤマーンタカ doesn’t it?

    I always thought that Reci seemed off, so I’m glad to see Leshy as an alternative, and it makes perfect sense too! I’m also glad to see someone else who thinks Bipierrot was meant to mean “pretty Pierrot.”

    Keep up the great work!

    • Interesting catch! Thanks for the comment.

      Regarding the Yamantaka, that definitely seems to fit as a source for the final Cardian. It’s amazing how much work the Sailor Moon team put into finding unique names for all of these one-time monsters!

      • Ah, I didn’t realize you replied back! Wow, it’s been a while since I posted.

        I can’t claim credit for the final cardian’s name (I guess a proper Sanskrit-style rendering would be Yāmandakka); I’m just repeating what Ian Miller proposed, same with Vampire. As I said before though, your Leshy proposal is a lot better than his Reci one.

        Keep up the great work!

        • I try to reply whenever I can (or, specifically, when I have something to add to the conversation) so glad to see that you’re back!

      • Oh, and I totally agree with how much work went into the names of the common monsters at times. It’s unfortunate how shows like the Pretty Cure series don’t put the same effort into their monsters who have no individuality (and for that matter the yoma of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon had no names either). It does make me wonder though if Toei had become uncomfortable with their magical girls killing sapient beings, especially if they’re more merciful toward the high-ranking villains because they look less monstrous.

        • If I recall correctly, at least one or two of the Youma in the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon were recycled from other tokusatsu shows. Might have just been one of the background ones, though. They also recycled locations a few times, too.

          =D But that’s neither here nor there.

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