What, exactly, is the connection between Usagi and Princess Serenity?
For a question that sounds so simple that it’s almost stupid to even ask, it’s a lot more difficult to answer than you’d initially think. And that’s what I find so fascinating about the topic.
We all know that Princess Serenity died back in the Silver Millennium to be later reincarnated as Usagi Tsukino. That much is clear and not really open to debate. However, how does the Usagi and Princess Serenity relationship play out after she becomes aware of her past?
Today we’re going to take a look at the the idea of whether Usagi is actually Serenity, or whether Serenity is lurking inside of her — not much unlike any of her other Sailor Moon forms.
Let’s start unraveling this thread, shall we?
In my opinion, both the Sailor Moon anime and manga do a good job dealing with the lead up reveal of Usagi being Princess Serenity in her past life. They search for the princess, things happen, and then Usagi awakens as Serenity, princess and heir to the Silver Millennium. After that point, however, things become a lot less clear.
What do I mean by “unclear”?
Well, in every other instance in the series when a character awakens, either be it as a Sailor Soldier, as Tuxedo Mask, or as Sailor Saturn, destroyer of worlds, this is always a one-way road. Once you awaken, that’s it. Though it’s pretty clear that the Sailor Soldiers didn’t retain any of their memories of their past lives, they were at least self-aware enough about their role and their sense of duty to search for and protect the Moon Princess once they realized their were Sailor Soldiers.
But we don’t exactly see that happening with Usagi when she realizes that she’s Princess Serenity. In the manga, Usagi seems to have regained a significant amount of her memories, and it still seems that the events that happened when she was Princess Serenity are events that happened in her own past. Yes, it was her that suffered at the hands of Queen Metalia and her minions, it was her that died, and it was her that lost Prince Endymion.
However, this all seems to be limited to the extent that these are old memories awakening within her, much like having some memories from a tough time you experienced in your teen years resurfacing when you’re in your thirties. This is not to be confused with Usagi awakening as Princess Serenity.1 Usagi doesn’t seem to represent herself as Princess Serenity per se, but rather has her memories.
The anime, however, seems to go the other direction. Because why wouldn’t it?
Here, Usagi seems to become Princess Serenity. Her mannerisms change, and so does the way she speaks. It’s almost like Princess Serenity was reincarnated with her spirit locked away within Usagi when she died, and then upon Usagi realizing what happened, Serenity was able to “come out and play” if you will.
Sure, Usagi gained at least some of her memories of the past, but outside of the moments where she’s clearly acting as Princess Serenity, Usagi seemed to treat the situation akin to a story she heard and less like memories and events that she experienced first hand.
Episode 39 is a great example of this.
We learn that Princess Serenity was a great and talented ice skater, and yet for some reason, Usagi’s an accident waiting to happen on the ice. This is after she’s already supposedly “awoken” as Princess Serenity, so you would assume that either she should be able to ice skate properly, or she should at least be confused as to why she can’t.
But what happens instead is actually far more telling: in the second half of the episode, Usagi is able to ice skate just fine once she’s on the ice with Tuxedo Mask. Almost as if Princess Serenity and her latent abilities are still somewhere deep inside Usagi.
We see this same thing happen in the latter half of episode 22 as well, though this is prior to her realizing that she’s Princess Serenity. Usagi, who by all accounts has two left feet and can’t even run without tripping, dances perfectly with Tuxedo Mask. I can only explain that away as Serenity awakening within Usagi, albeit on a low level, from being together again with Endymion.
And that brings us full circle to the original question: is Princess Serenity another form that Usagi transforms into, much like Super Sailor Moon or Eternal Sailor Moon?
In the climactic final battle of the first season of the anime, it’s not Sailor Moon who faces off against Queen Metalia2 — no, it’s Princess Serenity, accompanied by her fallen comrades. This scene seems to treat Princess Serenity like a powered up version of Sailor Moon, similar to another transformation.
And that isn’t even the only time that we see this happen either. The climactic battle against Fiore ends in a similar fashion as well, with both Usagi and Mamoru transforming into Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion respectively to save the day.
As the series progressed, the whole Princess Serenity storyline grew less and less important (though it would come back to play an important role in the Dream arc in the Sailor Moon manga) and fell to the wayside as just another tidbit about Usagi’s character. But at least for a time, the anime seemed to hang onto the concept of Princess Serenity being a personality, or power, lurking within Usagi that she could call upon in her darkest hour.3
This is definitely one of those articles where I freely admit that it’s just me speculating. That said, I do believe that there’s a reasonable amount of evidence to back up the theory that Princess Serenity was yet another of Usagi’s transformations — at least in the early part of the anime.
Interestingly enough, this concept of a princess transformation actually did crop up elsewhere in the Sailor Moon franchise: as the Princess forms assumed by each of the Sailor Soldiers in the Dream arc (when they learned of their castles orbiting their respective planets) as well as in the live-action Sailor Moon series, with Usagi’s Princess Sailor Moon transformation.4
So where does your opinion fall on this theory? Are Usagi and Princess Serenity separate people who happen to inhabit the same body, or did Usagi completely awaken to her past as Serenity? It’s interesting to think that, in that case, the opening of Sailor Moon follows the story of Usagi Tsukino, and then from that point on, we’re following Serenity living as Usagi Tsukino in the modern world. I’d love to hear your thoughts down below!
- I really hope I’m making sense here. If not, just yell at me in the comments and I’ll explain. ↩
- For the record, this is technically “Super Beryl” that she fights against, a powered-up version of Queen Beryl possessed by the power of Queen Metalia. Yes, it’s an absurd name ↩
- And yes, that is a reference to Transformers: The Movie (animated) ↩
- See Princess Sailor Moon ↩