In a word? The connection between automobiles and the characters, locations, and even magic spells in CLAMP’s Magic Knight Rayearth (MKR) series is “thorough.” In a phrase? There’s basically nothing in MKR which is doesn’t in some way connect back to car brands or the companies which manufacture them, either Japanese or foreign. Though the purpose of this blog is to investigate the mysteries of the characters and world of Sailor Moon, this is a topic that’s interested me for awhile and I figured it’d be worth taking a quick dive down this rabbit hole. If you’re interested, please do read on!
[Note to Readers: This article has been cross-posted to my other blog, Anime Theorist, as the (non-Sailor Moon) subject matter is a better fit there.]
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10 thoughts on “[Off Topic] How Deep Is the Car Connection in Magic Knight Rayearth?”
I loved reading this– even if it’s not Sailormoon related, it’s still interesting, and it also adds more overall knowledge about Japan and anime / manga which is never a bad thing!
Thanks for the feedback! I’d actually love to do a secondary/spin-off blog and cover other 80s, 90s, and early 2000s anime (since that’s what got me down this rabbit hole in the first place of studying Japanese!), but for now Sailor Moon still has a lot of content in its own right.
Interesting stuff. This is a fairly subtle example, but I’ve always been interested in naming schemes. Particularly at what point naming schemes cross the line between clever and cloying, to Japanese readers. What does it take to make Japanese fans groan?
I know as an English speaker, I found the most egregious offenders were always getting a mea culpa from otaku; defending the most obnoxious examples, like Sorcerer Hunters’ pastry theme, as cultural puns I couldn’t possibly understand. I didn’t buy it. Are there any notorious examples of name scheme fails?
You know, that’s an interesting question that I never actually thought about! Obviously there are just as many opinions out there as there are anime characters (so it’s not really possible to come up with a concrete answer), but I did take a quick look into what kind of anime/manga character names seemed to be most criticized online by fans. In case you’re curious, such names are often referred to as “DQN” (read as ドキュン/dokyun; means something equivalent to “smack my head” or “smh” in English internet slang).
The names which seem to be criticized the most by fans are the ones where they’re given one kanji (which is read for meaning) while the author chooses to read the name in a totally different way, typically a foreign name/word. A prominent example of a character who appears to show up a lot on lists is Light Yagami, of Death Note fame. His first name is written as 月 (tsuki; moon) while being read as the English word “light.”
Personally, if it were up to me, I’d say the names in the DragonBall series. I like the series – especially Z – but I can totally admit that it’s really hard to a battle between Vegetable and Freezer all that seriously. You could argue that some of the names don’t stand out to Japanese speakers, but Bulma (bloomer), Bura (bra), Pan (bread), and Trunks (trunks/boxers) are all words used in day-to-day life in Japan…
Wow, I never thought of the meaning of the word “Rayearth” either. “Shining swath of land” is really beautiful and kind of makes me think of Cephiro differently.
It’s kinda funny how you can spend so many years saying the word over and over and never really stop to think about it’s meaning! It really puts into perspective what the world of Magic Knight Rayearth is meant to be.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the series, and the more I learn about it, the more I enjoy it!
I had absolutely no idea that the naming system related to cars in any way! Interesting info!
Interestingly enough, a lot of Japanese fans who watched/read MKRayearth back in the day are lamenting the fact that, since most of the Japanese car names have been retired, new Japanese fans will probably totally lose out on that aspect. Not much of a difference from the experience of fans in the West though, I guess!
Interesting. I haven’t seen Rayearth since it was new, and I never would have guessed the character names had a connection to the auto industry. I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more non-Sailor Moon articles like this if there’s any more unique anime trivia you know!
I don’t suppose you have anything on Nurse Angel Ririka SOS or any of the other attempts to replicate Sailor Moon’s success with something in the “transforming female superhero” genre? Ririka seemed like a blatant ripoff and it was mostly mediocre… but it had a few great episodes. Most importantly, the characters had heart and felt like real people that you wish that you knew, just like in Sailor Moon, so that made up for some of the weaknesses. And unlike Sailor Moon, it wasn’t crowded with teammates so Ririka’s family stayed in the show the entire time. Just an OK show but it filled the void left in me when Sailor Moon ended.
To get even more off topic… it feels anime has kind of lost something in its character development in the past 15 or so years. Sailor Moon, Ririka, Kimagure Orange Road, Fushigi Yuugi, and others had relatable, real-seeming characters who I wished were real life people that I knew. It seems like some of that has been lost… a lot of characters now seem like unrelatable stereotypes who are nothing like any real person, and have little depth to them. Maybe (probably?) I’ve just been watching the wrong shows. Anyway, sorry about going on a rant here…
Thanks for the feedback! It’s nice to know that a lot of the readers of this blog come from a similar era in the budding anime fandom and have seen a lot of the same series I grew up on. I guess it’s not too surprising, since a lot of anime from that generation have a lot in common, and are also experiencing a huge resurgence in Japan as well (there’s so many CCSakura goods out now, and just today I saw some Ranma 1/2 figures on sale).
I’m familiar with the Nurse Angel Ririka SOS series in passing, though unfortunately I never had an opportunity to watch it. From what I heard, though, it did an even better job of pulling off the “slice of life” aspect that Sailor Moon had going for it in the beginning while also maintaining her life as a magical girl trying to protect the earth. It’s definitely on my “to watch” list now, though!
And I guess this ties into what you were saying, but I find myself drawn to a lot of older anime for reasons similar to what you mentioned in your comment. I mean, sure, a lot of it is nostalgia and I freely admit that, but I feel that anime has for the past decade (two decades, maybe?) been steadily moving away from the idea of showcasing everyday people doing great things and moving more toward characters who are already great to begin (the so-called “Mary Sues” of the world). This analysis actually appeared in a book researching trends of young Japanese in their 20s and 30s and how their behaviors are being influenced by anime and manga compared to how their parents were similarly influenced by anime and manga back in THEIR youth.
I can’t possibly do the book justice, but the short version is that in the 80s and 90s anime and manga focused on the main character starting out as disadvantaged, fighting against diversity, overcoming challenges, and through their struggle steadily improving and getting better. It was seen as something you could apply to your own life. Nowadays, anime and manga are a form of escapism; i.e., no one wants to think about how tough life is, so young readers want to read about their heroes being amazing and crushing evil. They don’t think of it as applicable to their own lives.
Just something interesting to think about!
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