It’s a question that I imagine haunts many of us late into the night as the sweet call of sleep continues to stay just out of grasp: are the planets named after the Sailor Senshi… or are the Sailor Senshi named after their planets?
Or, put another way, is the planet Mars named for the Sailor Soldier of fire and burniness,1 or does Rei Hino go by the moniker “Sailor Mars” because that is the name that her planet is known as?
Like all things in the Sailor Moon universe, this question is slightly more complicated that it seems at first blush, so it looks like we’re going to have to get our hands dirty and just dive right on in. Break out your manga volumes and astronomy textbooks, because there’s a lot of background reading we’ll need to do!
What makes this question so difficult to answer is that no matter what proof you look at, you can find just as relevant of a counterpoint that completely ruins your original argument. In fact, I’ve had this article topic sitting around in my list of “things I should write” for awhile now and have thus far let it flounder.
However, I figure it’s about time that we just get together everything we know about the subject, throw it on the table, and see if we can figure it out together.
The obvious answer, of course, is that there is some sort of mystical bond between the Sailor Soldiers and their respective celestial bodies, giving them a sort of mystical bond that unites the spirit of the planet/asteroid/star together with the Sailor Soldier that fights for them.
This also seems to be supported by the fact that the Sailor Animamates all took on different names than the Sailor Senshi they had killed/harvested their Sailor Crystals from, as their respective planets no longer existed.2
In the case of Sailor Lead Crow, for example, Sailor Galaxia killed Sailor Coronis and destroyed the planet of the same name and gave the Sailor Crystal to her. In exchange for Sailor Lead Crow assisting her in killing the (Inner and Outer) Sailor Senshi, she would be reborn as a proper Sailor Soldier and given her own planet — ostensibly called Lead Crow.
The Sailor Starlights throw a wrench into this, however, since I can’t exactly imagine anyone actually naming celestial objects Star Fighter, Star Healer, or Star Maker, but who am I to judge? If I’m expected to believe anyone has a forehead that big, then I guess I can believe a planet Star Maker exists.
Unfortunately, things get a little uglier once when we focus our attention back to our own solar system.
You see, though technically not Sailor Soldiers in their own right, Phobos and Deimos were only given their names after leaving the planet Coronis. The manga is mum on the rest of the details surrounding this, unfortunately, but it’s pretty clear that these two young warriors were only given their names once being chosen by the Princess of Mars to come to her planet.
Well, the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, weren’t discovered (and thus did not have names) until 1877.3
This is even worse in the case of Setsuna.4
Though we don’t know exactly when the Silver Millennium took place, I would hazard a guess that it was probably sometime before 1930, a mere 62 years before the events of Sailor Moon started. While it’s certainly possible that the Moon Kingdom was alive and well up through the 1930s, this seems pretty unlikely to me.
Despite the fact that the
planet dwarf planet now known as Pluto wasn’t officially given a name until 1930,5 the Sailor Soldier of space and time still seems to be working under this name. And not only does she go by that name but she apparently had been going by that name since before she started guarding the Door of Space and Time way back during the fall of the Moon Kingdom.
So where does that leave us? Are we stuck just giving an emphatic shrug and saying “beats me,” or can we actually try to make some sense of this?
Though I hate to resort to this answer, this is probably simply a case of “it’s just a show, you should really just relax.” Ms. Takeuchi simply wanted to name the Sailor Soldiers after the planets and didn’t actually bother to think it through on how the logistics of that would work.
All hope is not lost, however. There is at least one possible explanation that could make this all work: the names of the planets are simply a convenience for us, the readers/viewers, and for the reincarnated Sailor Soldiers.
As much as Japan would like to think otherwise, it’s highly unlikely that Japanese would serve as the language of the universe. We could thus make a reasonable argument that all of the scenes involving non-Japanese characters (including Helios, Sailor Galaxia, and the other members of the Shadow Galactica) were taking place in another language, but are written in Japanese for our sake.
Similarly, you could argue that the characters in Sailor Moon (when speaking Japanese or otherwise) simply refer to the planets by names we’re familiar with out of convenience and also due to the fact that these are the names that the reincarnated Sailor Soldiers are familiar with, having grown up throughout their human lives using those names.
It’s a stretch, of course, but it’s the best I can do. If you have any other ideas on how we could make some sense of this, though, I’d love to hear them!