I totally understand that talking about salaries, people’s standards or living, and how much money someone throws around isn’t something we typically do in polite conversation. But when Sailor Moon depicts so many characters living the high life – all the while claiming to be totally normal – it’s hard to not address the topic.
Today I’d like to take a closer look at our favorite underage genius and doctor to be, Ami Mizuno. I hope you stick around for this look into her ritzy, if lonely, home life!
Before you begin asking questions, let me mention here that I’m well aware that in terms of out-of-touch-with-reality insanity, Haruka and Michiru take the cake in terms of how much money they’re depicted as having. And even if you were to put aside their financials for a second, their background stories don’t really work in the real world either.
But exactly because they make so little sense, and we have so little information to work on, there’s really not much to say about their background other than “it’s a story.”
Ami, on the other hand, gives us some details to work with in the story. So that makes her a good candidate to look into. Or, more accurately, to debunk.
Considering the anime doesn’t really tell us too much about her home life or her mother, and it even glosses over the whole being a child of divorce angle, I’ll be limiting the scope of today’s analysis to the manga. Depending your personal opinions on how much information you can apply from one to the other, this may answer questions about the anime as well, but that’s a topic frequently debated among fans.
As you probably already know, Ami is depicted as ridiculously wealthy in the manga. I believe the accounting term for it is filthy rich.1
Just how rich is she?
Well, not only does her mother apparently collect diamonds as a hobby,2 but the condo mother and daughter Mizuno live in is what’s referred to as a okushon (億ション),3 a wordplay on mansion (マンション; manshon),4 from the Japanese word for a condominium.
You see, the Japanese word for 10,000 is man (万),5 which is a homophone for the first half of the aforementioned mansion. The next highest number counter in Japanese is oku (億),6 which means 100,000,000. So basically it’s a wordplay to suggest that it’s a super-ritzy condominium nearly no one could afford.
Oh, did I mention that the foyer to their condo has marble flooring? Because it does, according to Usagi on their first visit.7
Now that we’ve established that Ami lives a pretty luxurious lifestyle, that begs the follow-up question of “how does she afford it?”
“Well,” I can hear your voice shrieking out from the dark, “that’s an easy one.” Obviously we know where this is going. You continue on: “Ami’s mother is a doctor, Mr. Smarty-blogger-pants!”
And that’s absolutely correct. But, as I’m sure you know, not all doctors are the same. No offense to doctors, of course, but there’s definitely a difference both in terms of qualifications needed, and even pay, depending on your specialty.
So what kind of doctor is Ms. Mizuno? As it turns out, she’s an internist – a doctor specializing in internal medicine.8 Ami explains this when we learn that her mother was caring for him in the hospital during the Dream arc.
That’s pretty reasonable, since 1/3 of all doctors in Japan are classified as internists.9 But this is where things stop lining up with the story we see in Sailor Moon, unfortunately. Salaries aren’t exactly as stunning as you’d imagine.
Though we’re dealing with modern day numbers, since I wasn’t able to find any 1992 doctor salaries, it’s fair to say that they haven’t changed shockingly in relative terms of buying power, even accounting for inflation.
Including bonuses, the average annual salary in Japan for an internist is between ¥9.6 million and ¥20.3 million, or $85,000 to $178,000 in USD.10 That’s pretty impressive, yes, but not “my mother has so many diamonds she doesn’t mind if you scratch one” kind of money.
We can narrow that salary range down even further if we just have Ms. Mizuno’s age, since Japanese salaries are pretty standardized among people in the same age demographic. The problem is… how old is she?
We don’t have an answer to this question, so we’ll need to make a few educated guesses to narrow this down. We know that Ikuko had Usagi at 20 and is thus 34 when we first see her, but obviously that’s not going to work for Ami’s mother.
In order to become an internist in Japan, you first need to study for 6 years in university before testing to get your license. After that, you have another 2 years of being a medical intern before you can be a full-fledged doctor. Since I can absolutely promise you that she wasn’t a medical intern while pregnant or with a little baby at home, that means she would be 27 at the very youngest when Ami was born.11
Fast-forward 14 years to the beginning of Sailor Moon and this puts Ms. Ami’s Mom at 41 years old, or an approximate annual salary of ¥16.9 million (roughly $148,000 USD).
I don’t know about you, but I’m really not thinking that these numbers are lining up with the extravagant lifestyle we’re seeing in the manga.
If we were to try to justify any of this, my best guess would be that a lot of the wealth we see is from before the divorce, and that quite possibly Ami’s father had been bringing in a significant amount of money as an artist.
Though alimony wouldn’t make a lot of sense when she’s a successful doctor, it isn’t uncommon in Japan to split savings largely in favor of one party if there was infidelity involved. So maybe Ami’s father was insanely wealthy, cheated on her mother, and left most of the money when they divorced? Wow, this got dark.
So I guess I should bring this full circle and answer the question I posed. How rich is Ami? Incredibly, ridiculously so. However, there’s absolutely no way that she could be as rich as we see due to the reasons we’re given.
Personally, I kind of like the theory that there was more going on with the tense situation with her father other than that he was just a “tortured artist” that went on to go do his own thing. But since that’s boring, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this! Is Ms. Mizuno a famed doctor to the stars? Family money? Oil baroness?? Let me know!
- I checked a dictionary just now, and apparently this is not the correct term. Sorry. ↩
- See p. 64 of vol. 3 of the original manga ↩
- See p. 63. of vol. 3 of the original manga ↩
- See マンション (Jisho.org) ↩
- See 万 (Jisho.org) ↩
- See 億 (Jisho.org) ↩
- See p. 63. of vol. 3 of the original manga ↩
- See p. 96 of vol. 12 of the original manga ↩
- See Average salaries for internists (Japanese) ↩
- See footnote 9; rate is as of November 9, 2017 at ¥113.55/$1 ↩
- Graduate high school at 18 + 6 years in university + 2 years interning + ~10 months of pregnancy ↩