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 ↩
18 thoughts on “How Rich is Ami Mizuno?”
You’re right, there’s no way Ami’s parents earned that much money. So the obvious answer is an inheritance. The other possibility is that the condominium belongs to the family of one of Ami’s parents, but if Mrs. Mizuno collects jewelry that shows that there’s plenty of money that is hers to spend.
Whose inheritance was it? The flakey guy who becomes an artist but then can’t find any time to spend with his family sounds like a spoiled child of multimillionaires. But then maybe Ami’s mother’s parents were wealthy and provided her with the best possible education and best opportunities to help her become a doctor.
The inheritance probably belonged to Mrs. Mizuno because for her to have such a massive amount of money, it would have to be at least double that amount if it originally belonged to Mr. Mizuno and she only got half or less.
It’s a curious thing that this was written into the story. For the sake of convenience it makes sense to have all of the characters be financially well-off so that they can afford to do fun things like go on trips, and you don’t see them living in a run-down area. But why make Rei and Ami especially wealthy? It never mattered to the story. The girls never took advantage of that wealth to have a home base at Ami’s place or anything like that, they never used Ami’s money to help investigate a strange phenomenon.
I suppose it could have something to do with wanting to keep their parents out of the picture. Rei and Ami’s fathers are busy and don’t care to be part of their lives and Ami’s mother is busy enough that Ami spends little time with her. Rei’s mother is dead, along with Makoto and Mamoru’s parents. Haruka and Michiru’s parents would seem to be dead as well, though they’re never mentioned. You only get to have two parents if you’re the main character of a story, in order to be more relatable to the readers.
As with Usagi and her ridiculously expensive home, “inheritance!!” is probably the easiest answer, though it’s also pretty boring and feels like a cheap way out, so I try to avoid it whenever possible. But you’re right – that would definitely be the most likely solution to this situation.
Another idea was that this might be child support from the father (once again assuming that he’s a wildly popular artist), but that doesn’t really hold up since it seems unlikely to me that a fairly successful doctor would be receiving a lot of money in child support. Also, child support (generally everywhere, but particularly in Japan) is the right of the child and not the parent, so Ms. Mizuno would have to be a pretty awful parent to be spending all of Ami’s money on diamonds, etc.
My biggest problem with the idea that Ms. Mizuno herself comes from a lot of money and that Ami’s grandparents either died and passed on their fortune, or are providing financial assistance, is that it seems really bizarre to me that she would keep her married name after a divorce and not go back to her birth name.
As for why Naoko made the characters all so ridiculously wealthy when it has nothing to do with the story? Probably for two reasons:
1) She seems to have grown up in a wealthy family herself and talked frequently in her Naoko Punch series about all the jet-setting stuff she did, and acted like it was all totally normal. She may assume that everyone lives in the lap of luxury.
2) Fantasy fulfillment for the reader. Just like the fact that there are no – to put it bluntly – ugly characters in the series, the reader wants to lose themselves in a fantasy setting where life is absolutely perfect. The characters are all pretty, successful in love and their other pursuits, and rich to boot!
Is it that strange for a divorced woman not to go back to her birth name? Maybe it’s different in Japan, but some women in America keep their new last name after a divorce especially if they have a child. They want their child and themselves to continue to share the same last name.
I definitely agree that fantasy fulfillment is part of it. It’s just slightly odd to make them THAT rich and then not pay any attention to it anymore. The other fantasy fulfillment parts (characters turning out to be royalty with a kingdom to inherit and being destined to fall in love and win great battles etc.) were heavily used.
Honestly, I find it really weird (and probably just a flaw in the story) that she retained the Mizuno name even after divorce. This is only anecdotal of course, but of all the divorcees I know in Japan (~8-10 that I know of? Obviously people don’t bring it up in conversation) every single one changed their name back.
Though there are some valid reasons why she may have kept the name. Depending on how long Ms. Mizuno was a doctor, she may have spent her entire professional life working under the last name Mizuno, and it may have been difficult for her career and/or patients to suddenly change her name. Also, there’s the fact that when you suddenly change your last name – and not for marriage purposes – it’s something that people are going to ask about at best… or gossip about at worst. Not that there’s anything wrong with divorce, but some could see it as “airing your dirty laundry.” This is especially true if we’re talking about a highly respected doctor. Goes double for Ami, who would have to explain to her classmates and school that her name is now different.
Speaking as someone who has gone through the process of a legal name change (albeit in the us) though I imagine the details are different, the headache is likely largely the same. I can’t imagine wanting to go through the process of changing my name a second time. I can see Ami’s mother being the sort who doesn’t see it as a Big Deal ™ to just keep the name in favor of just getting on with working and the rest of her life.
You mention alimony, but there is no alimony post divorce in Japan. While there is (largely unenforced) child support, spousal support is only while you are married. This is why many unhappy couples will still stay together (even if living separately) yet not divorce.
I guess I should have been more clear. I meant the idea of 慰謝料 in this case and didn’t want to go into the minutia of how it differs from “alimony” in common law countries.
Though there is no alimony as we think of it in the west, there is a system of one party paying the aggrieved party when they’ve done something wrong, such as infidelity, etc. This can also be broken down into smaller payments (instead of one large lump sum) until you pay it off, like any other bill or debt that you owe.
So yes, you’re right, there is no such thing as “alimony” in the strict sense in the west. But 慰謝料, or compensation money, is very much a thing.
As for why people stay in unhappy marriages, that’s a whole different (yet fascinating!) can of worms. ^_- The system has gotten much better to give women a claim pension money now and there’s a lot more government financial support that even 15-20 years ago, but there’s still a long way before this becomes viable.
In many countries it is common for a woman, having a social standing as high as doctor or proffessor to keep her name after divorce. People recognize that name, she build it up for decades, they associate her with it. In my country many doctors and teachers keep their name after marriage or divorce for that reason.
Here’s another thought. Maybe Ami’s mom had some kind of business investments. Not sure what type of business opportunities there are for internist physicians in Japan but for nephrologists in the US, some dialysis clinics are referred to as “joint venture”. This means some physicians have part ownership of the clinic along with the dialysis company. So maybe Ami’s mom had partial/shared ownership in some outpatient clinics or maybe she was on some sort of board or committee that came with a bonus in addition to her regular salary.
Maybe Ami’s mom came from a really wealthy family.
Remembering about gender roles in Japan that are still in play and were much much MUCH more strictly enforced previously…
Most likely reason that married woman with a child could become practicing doctor is that she simply OWN that hospital.
PS. About family name… is there any indication that Mizuno is family name of the husband? Because I don’t remember one.
Ami’s father is referred to as Mr. Mizuno, so we can be fairly certain that she kept her married name.
(Before someone comes up and says something about the 婿養子 system and about how the husband may have been adopted into his wife’s family, it’s incredibly uncommon and also then he would have changed his name back after the divorce. So that doesn’t apply here.)
Actually it does apply.
1. As I said it’s likely she own said hospital or her family do. Then husband marrying in the family is very natural thing to happen.
2. For established but not VERY famous painter loss of “stage name” can be as much harmful as for doctor, so the very same reasons apply.
PS. Though there is possibility of another thing – while their parents are divorced Ami is still heir on that side too. Speaking of which then hospital may belong to her grandparents on father’s side… then it’s in fact Saeko that is heir who was adopted in family through marriage and that she later divorced her husband doens’t change that (as in that case heir is one who practice family trade and not “pheh, artist”).
Ami’s mother works at Juuban Second General Hospital (source).
Her family doesn’t own it.
If Osaka NATIONAL Hospital is listed as Private and not Public… I kinda don’t see why Juuban Second General Hospital can’t be Private.
And I really don’t see married woman with a child making career as doctor in 80th Japan without serious, serious, SERIOUS family connections.
We have a lot of reasons to believe that Ami’s family doesn’t own the hospital. Namely, Ami’s mother isn’t particularly high up the chain in the hospital and Ami only refers to it as the hospital that her mother works at. Her family owning it would be a pretty important thing to mention.
If we’re going to make broad assumptions that her family not only owns the hospital but was so wealthy and influential that they adopted in her husband and he still retained his post-marriage name even after divorcing, then I think we’d want to point to something in the series that suggests that.
I work in medical and I agree that typically an everyday internist would not be able to afford the lifestyle they depict. Doctors make a great living but internists are one of the lower paid specialities relative to other ones. Hospital internists tend to make more though than ones at private clinics. One common thing with the docs I work with is they all invest their money and in the long run they make a significant amount from it. I also am not so sure about the age of Ami’s mom. It is becoming increasingly more common for women to have children while attending med school and residency as the average age of starting med school has increased. At the time this was written that wouldn’t be the case so much but nowadays it is. I also never really thought of most of the characters as being extremely wealthy. The inner Senshi are presented as relatively middle class, besides Ami and Rei(moreso in the manga though). Mina, Makoto and Usagi are all pretty average middle class upbringings. It seems from what I read that usagi’s house is considered very expensive for Japan but I think for Americans looking at it they probably view it and her family as pretty typical middle to upper middle class.
I’m of the theory that it’s all from Ami’s father. We know he’s a painter, and if he’s a very very GOOD painter, he could be loaded…. which knowing what little we know about him, that he’s the type that doesn’t stay in once place, probably means he doesn’t even have a permanent residence. Now going off this, if he and Ami’s mother split because of a disagreement about lifestyle over anything else (Her wanting to stay in place due to her career and him wanting to move around) it’s highly likely he willingly let Ami live with her mother due to the greater stability it provides and just sends them the money he feels he doesn’t need in his lifestyle