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 ↩
23 thoughts on “Is Princess Serenity Just Another of Sailor Moon’s Transformations?”
“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.” This is exactly how I see it happening after both, Usagi and Mamoru, remember their past lives, and, maybe embrace it fully once they take their stance as king and queen after the Dream Arc. Because, why else would they go back to call themselves Serenity and Endymion in the future? Why not living a normal life after Galaxia? Sailor Moon sure is confusing at times.
In the way I view it, their souls merged – so that Usagi has both the memories and abilities of Princess Serenity (and Sailor Moon, since that form is obviously linked to Serenity), but she can use them only when she changes her form.
We saw Saturn talking to Hotaru, but Usagi´s different forms never talked to each other, except the time in Black Moon Arc. But then she was present in two bodies, so it cannot be used as an argument.
Metal Beryl would have been a much better name.
Thinking of it as a transformation seems to make sense. The Soldiers do acquire some extra knowledge when they transform: otherwise, they wouldn’t know the attack words… and their skill and power also seems to increase, matching the indicators we have for Serenity.
It’s also a bit more satisfying: I wouldn’t really like to contemplate Usagi as a puppet of a long dead princess: thinking of it as a transformation that gives her access to memories and skills feels less strange.
I mean, I definitely agree on principle that “Metal Beryl” is a better name. But there’s also a part of me that think there are so many amazing jokes that could be made about “Metal Beryl” that it’s simply too good to pass up. But that’s neither here nor there.
Regarding the transformation, I personally like that idea better, because it allows Usagi to tell her own story and not simply be the continuation of Serenity’s story, but I can definitely see the appeal for both interpretations.
Okay, so, question: What happens then when they change to Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion? They just… change? If they aren’t their royal selves from the moment they remember…
Unfortunately, we don’t have any information on that. My sense is that NQS and King Endymion are an extension of whoever we see in the series as of Stars. I figure it’s Usagi just taking on a new title of “Neo Queen.”
Or maybe Beryllium? Suggesting its metallic form. Ami would be very proud!
Love that name! I really wish they did more with the form…
“as well as in the live-action Sailor Moon series, with Usagi’s Princess Sailor Moon transformation.”
Very interesting article. However, I do doubt the above part. It’s not just a transformation, it’s more like two persons sharing the same body. Usagi had no memories of and no control over what happens when the Princess takes over. There was even a part where the 2 of them had a lengthy discussion on what is right and not. Just imagine Sailor Moon would do that to Super Sailor Moon, another transformation of hers. It just doesn’t make sense.
If anything, it’s more like Yukito/Yue of Card Captor Sakura situation, only that Usagi got to know of her second ego at a certain point of time, whereas Yukito still keeps repeating “What am I doing here?” in the middle of the Clear Card Arc. Or you could compare it to PGSM’s Beryl/Kuroki, only that the 2 went a step further and got separated bodies, too.
Interesting article. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’ve always felt that the memories of Princess Serenity (and the increased power level that goes with getting in touch with those memories) are just a part of Usagi’s past that she can’t remember until then.
Whether or not it counts as a transformation is a matter of semantics. If you magically remembered a past life as a renowned piano player, and suddenly find yourself with the ability to play the piano extremely well, and have your personality affected (at least temporarily) by the sudden recall of decades worth of a past life… did you “transform”? Most people would say no.
What if your clothes magically changed when this happen. Does it count as a transformation now? Now it’s debatable. Maybe it is?
Anyway, I do not see Serenity as a separate entity who can “come out and play”. I think Usagi’s change in mannerisms are a temporary change as she remembers what she used to be, and what she’s capable of being now if she tries. Usagi develops a level of maturity she didn’t have before, and it happens in an instant, as a result of regaining those lost memories.
I think that, at least in the manga, the point is that while Usagi technically *is* Princess Serenity reincarnated, she is also *more* than just that.
When Usagi is first given the power to become Sailor Moon, her only issue with it is having to fight monsters. When she awakens as Serenity, though, not only does she get her past self’s memories, but her body attempts to adjust, with her hair suddenly growing. And Usagi seems upset at the idea of *becoming somebody other than just herself*. Before that, she only had brief dream-like “this feels familiar” moments, which didn’t bother her much.
Towards the end of the first arc, Usagi, in a fit of despair, attempts to kill herself, mirroring the fate of the “original” Princess Serenity. She seems to think it was destined for that story to repeat. But this time, *it doesn’t work*. And she wins.
I also find it interesting that the final battle with the Dark Kingdom looks very different between the versions. In the anime, Usagi fights Super Beryl as Serenity – her past form. In the manga, she fights as Sailor Moon, but using a staff-length Moon Stick, and with the crescent moon symbol still visible on her forehead.
This continues later in the series, too. Manga Usagi doesn’t turn into Princess Serenity to destroy enemies, she does it just fine as Sailor Moon, and the few times she appears in that form are more for symbolism. However, her soldier forms *do* start to resemble Serenity more, first with her white semi-transparent Super outfit, and then when she permanently loses her tiara as Eternal Sailor Moon (which Diana says is the closest form to Neo Queen Serenity).
In the anime, she seems to “channel” Serenity as her emergency powerup form in order to use the Silver Crystal, to the point one has to wonder why she doesn’t just learn to stay in that form all the time. Probably because the anime liked the “using the Silver Crystal will kill you” gimmick, which allowed for more drama during the climactic points. Interestingly, the “depower” is almost always *back into Sailor Moon*, even when it doesn’t make sense (the crystal exploded in the R movie), so it’s a “second transformation” similar to Super Sailor Moon during Infinity/S. Which, coincidentally, was the only anime season to not feature Serenity during the finale.
– First season: fights as Princess Serenity.
– Sailor Moon R: fights as Neo Queen Serenity, with Chibiusa as Small Lady Serenity. This one in particular is odd, because Chibiusa wasn’t even a soldier at the time. And NQS seems to be possessing Sailor Moon’s body.
– Sailor Moon R movie: fights as Princess Serenity.
– Sailor Moon SuperS: transforms into Princess Serenity to save Chibimoon because… I don’t even know. Chibimoon transforms into Small Lady Serenity once she is saved. Both get wings.
– Sailor Stars: fights as winged Princess Serenity, loses her dress before winning, presumably for symbolic reasons.
Comparing the two versions, we get something like this:
– Manga!Usagi: “I’m a reincarnated princess who died in the past and became this clumsy girl. But I’m also a soldier now, and can use the Silver Crystal, so I can defend myself and my loved ones.”
– Anime!Usagi: “I’m a clumsy girl who became a soldier and who also happened to be a reincarnated princess! And I’m absolutely nothing like her, but when I become her, I can fight even stronger enemies! Wearing that cute dress and everything!”
…which probably has something to do with the anime version exaggerating Usagi’s clumsiness from the beginning. They couldn’t resist playing up the irony of her being a princess, despite manga!Serenity not really acting much different from Usagi in the Silver Millenium flashbacks.
I thought there was an episode, maybe episode 40 in the 90s anime when Usagi’s family goes on vacation, or maybe in Crystal shortly after she recovers her memories, where Luna tells her she is NOT Serenity, and not doomed to be a tragic princess, that she IS Usagi Tsukino.
Hmm, there very well may be a scene like that! I don’t recall it, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen that part.
That could just be Luna trying to cheer her up, though. I mean, Luna didn’t even know that Usagi was Serenity this whole time, so her memory is clearly faulty.
There’s definitely a statement like that in Crystal;; the point being that she’s not merely defined by her past life, but able to make her own future.
Usagi both is and is not Princess Serenity…
What I mean is that Usagi has all the memories of Princess Serenity Heir to the moon kingdom magical powerhouse and everything there BUT also has all the memories of Usagi Tsukino, fourteen year old Japanese kid that is somewhat spoiled and a crybaby… Princess Serenity on the other hand grew up to be something different, she was a Princess, and was brought up to a certain standard.
So there is this two conflicting way of growing up that coexist inside Usagi. She tends to be the goofball easygoing and somewhat silly one because she just wants to still be free of the responsibilities of being a sovereign, but when it’s needed she CAN be grown up…
In the manga, after we learn that Usagi is Princess Serenity, there’s actually a scene where the inner scouts go by Usuagi’s house and discover that she still looks like Serenity. One of the scouts (I don’t remember who) actually cuts her hair back to the length that it was before she awakens as the princess.
I don’t think they’re two different entities sharing the same body at all. Usagi is Princess Serenity and vice versa. Usagi can’t change too much as a person or else her family and close friends (such as Naru) would become suspicious. I also think her continuaing to act as “Usagi” and not as “Serenity” would be a way for her to distance herself from the painful memories of her past. She not only lost the love of her life, but her also lost her entire kingdom and must feel some guilt for her mother dying and the kingdom being destroyed as the queen used to silver crystal to send their star seeds into the future instead of defeating Beryl. Assuming that the queen would have been able to do so in the first place.
In the manga and through various interviews with Naoko Takeuchi we learn that it was forbidden for citizens of the moon to interact with citizens of Earth. I’m sure Serenity/Usagi is just happy to try and live the life she always hoped for – being with Endymion/Mamoru on Earth.
I think there might be insight into looking at real life amnesiacs.
People with amnesia are interesting because they offer a look into a person’s “natural” personality versus the traits they’ve taken on through experience. Our personalities are comprised of a bit of both nature and nurture. Someone who is naturally mean spirited may continue to be so after losing their memories, but someone who was mean due to upbringing or social pressure may lose that meanness because, obviously, they don’t remember their motivation for acting that way. A lot of people assume that regardless though, an amnesiac will fully return to their former self once their memories come back, but we find this isn’t typically the case. Even after an amnesiac regains their memories, the fact that they went through a period without them is in it of itself a new experience which has granted them a new perspective to retrospect those memories through. The aforementioned mean person, for example, may now remember how she felt justified in acting that way, but she doesn’t agree with it anymore because she has since gone through new experiences which changed her perspective. Or, conversely, she could still succumb those social pressures, but would nonetheless be more self-aware of them.
I think the Serenity/Usagi situation may be similar to that. Serenity and Usagi are fundamentally the same person, but they still have differences between them because they were brought up differently. Once Serenity was “awakened,” it was akin to Usagi remembering things she personally experienced, but there’s nonetheless a certain detachment because there has since been an entirely new life jammed in between then and now which has had completely different influences on her behavior. Usagi remembers what it was like to be brought up as a princess, but she can’t easily slip into those same shoes again because she was conversely also raised to be a normal student. That does not, however, mean that her past life has zero influence, just that it has to compete with the possibly contradictory experiences of her current life in influencing her behavior and decisions.
Take the dancing and figure skating for example. Serenity, as a princess, was probably brought up from a young age to do those things and had a lot of practice. Usagi, being a modern student, did not, and has since fallen into more clumsy habits with the way she moves and coordinates. The fact that Serenity’s memories were restored doesn’t necessarily mean that Usagi’s muscle memory is going to flip back to the old ways like a switch – she is simultaneously used to moving one way, and used to moving in a contradictory way. There’s no reason for her past way of moving to automatically usurp the new way, but as you pointed out, the old way does seem to be able to come back when Usagi is placed in a situation that puts her “in the zone” as it were. Possibly, if she actually sat down and tried to get back into those activities, more of her old skills would manifest, just like any ability that a person has fallen out of practice with.
In short, Usagi is a mish-mash of hers and Serenity’s traits, her brain equally processing the two lives/experiences as its own but sometimes running into complications where those experiences contradict each other, in which case it depends on the situation how she’ll react. You have to think of it less as her having lived one really long life and more as what it really is, that being that she has been alive for 14 years TWICE in two completely different circumstances, with both lives and their respective experiences being forced to coexist in one mind and body. Serenity’s experiences may win out in one situation, and Usagi’s in another, but that isn’t to say that the experiences belong to two different entities entirely who sometimes hand off controls to the body.
Or at least, that’s how I see it.
I think this is probably the best explanation, and will also postulate that I don’t actually think the manga and anime are all that different in this respect, the anime just plays it more subtly and lets it stretch out over the entire series.
I think in the anime she grows into it. As she matures she becomes more accepting of her past and her destiny. She gets less clumsy, matures in general, and gets a deeper connection to the silver crystal and her own power. There are moments when it hits her overwhelmingly hard, like the first time she becomes the princess, and also times when she zones in and really, almost seems to do it deliberately.
Ultimately, at least by the time of stars, we are told that the Sailor Crystal is a person’s soul in the manga, (and possibly the soul of their planet too… O.o but that way madness might lie if I think about that too hard. does the crystal go back when the sailor dies or the planet? is one tied to the other? If there’s only one sailor ever for a planet does that mean that queen serenity, usagi and chibiusa all share the same soul? I need to stop thinking about that or my brain will implode… Let’s just say that the seed pops back to the cauldron when the next kid is born and makes a new soul…and perhaps the cauldron exists outside of normal time so that a planet can have more than one seed for a little while. Yeah. Let’s go with that.) And the anime at least seems to imply this is the case too. That would suggest that this really is some form of reincarnation. Usagi and Serenity share the same soul.
Queen Serenity interfered with the natural process when the moon kingdom fell. Presumably, what *should* have happened is that the sailor crystals of the princesses should have returned to the cauldron and new random children would have been born with the sailor crystals. She literally stopped that from happening and forcibly sent the exact same sailor crystals to earth so that they could all try over. (No wonder it killed her, going against the natural order that hard!)
They absolutely are reincarnations, they’re just expressed differently depending on the particular needs of the plot.
“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.”
Couldn’t we argue that Usagi lacks the muscle memory for ice skating? It’s like that scene from the Matrix. Neo awakens and he intellectually knows how to walk but his physical body has literally never done it. His muscles need to be built in order for him to do it
In the manga, it’s explicitly stated the Silver Crystal had to undergo a transformation itself to act as a Sailor Crystal. For Sailor Moon it eventually evolves into the Silver Moon Crystal then reverts when she becomes Queen, at which point she looses most if not all her Sailor Senshi powers, as she admits herself. It’s then claimed by Chibi-Usa and eventually evolves into the Pink Moon Crystal.
The fact that it had to do this has long been part of my theory that Sailor Moon isn’t a True Sailor Senshi, but that’s its own thing.
So REALISTICALLY, Serenity+Endymion would functionally be separate personalities from Usagi+Mamoru because they would’ve have drastically different life experiences.
But, I think within the context of the story and the kind of fairy tale logic we’re working with, I don’t think that’s the case.
I think they essentially view themselves as both people at the same time. “I WAS a princess on the moon and Queen Serenity was my mother, but NOW I’m a school girl and Ikuko is my mother” To use an analogy, none of us are the same people we were at age 10 and yet we know we used to be that person and their life experiences still inform aspects of who we are now.
Additionally,if you wanted to get spiritual, maybe the intention is that they are fundamentally always the same people just in different times and places. So Serenity was always a goofball who loved to eat just as Usagi is, she just happened to have had some ice skating lessons is all.
As far as the anime version is concerned I 100% agree that Princess Serenity was Usagi’s ultimate transformation, her trump card for when things got really, really bad.
Sailor Moon doesn’t have the best storyline so I am glad it has never been voted as the greatest manga/anime writing ever. I am just going to leave it at that.
For me, Serenity is Usagi & Usagi is Serenity. It’s the same for the Inner Senshi, Luna & Artemis also. They even look the same. Why? It goes back to what a previous commenter stated, regarding how Queen Serenity (Usagi’s Mom) sent everybody to Earth to save her daughter vs. Usagi, Mamoru, Luna, Artemis & the Inner Senshi going to the cauldron that is revealed in the final season.
(If I recall this correctly, it’s the same for the Outer Senshi as well. I do not remember what happened to them right now after the Moon Kingdom fell.)
I would say also that it’s what another commenter mentioned regarding Usagi & the gang being amnesiac. They are “regular” people to fit in on Earth, to keep their true identities a secret for the most part & also to protect them from Metallia before their powers awaken & to avoid being easy targets after their powers awakened.
About the abilities (skating, etc), I find that part interesting. 1 explanation is what other commenters mentioned: Usagi is seriously out of practice (very little muscle memory). I think Jupiter is able to pick up skating instantly because she is athletic in her modern life also.
I am a bit foggy about the timing of the events, but another possibility is Usagi cursed, much like her daughter (stunted growth). The curse can come from about 2 things: Metallia and/or backlash from when her Queen Serenity used the Silver Crystal to send everyone to Earth. (The backlash from the immediate intervention is death, as it is for Seera P when she uses Time Stop in the manga. Maybe some of that backlash also extended to Usagi or any user of the Silver Crystal. I also think there was an issue with the Silver Crystal being split into pieces & then also being split into pieces for as long as it was.)
I’d like to put a note here about Pluto. As far as I understand it, she goes back to the cauldron to be reborn after her death & comes back exactly the same. (Correct me if I’m wrong here.)
The 3rd possibility is that Usagi’s powers were still weak; she hadn’t integrated fully with her past life self & the Silver Crystal was restored recently. There’s also a lack of battle experience in her past life. The inner senshi would pick things up faster because they’ve been guardians from the start!
Just for jollies: If Sailor Moon’s princess form is a transformation, then it’s the original one. The rest are disguises, including Usagi in her modern life. XD 😛
Now: what about Princess Serenity’s dad?! I’d love to hear that back story! (White Jade Emperor anybody??)