Why Isn’t Minako’s Name Associated With Venus?

Sailor Venus and Her Forlorn Namesake Planet

Sailor Venus and Her Forlorn Namesake Planet

One of the first things anyone with even a passing interest in learning Japanese will notice is that the names of all of the (inner) Sailor Soldiers is that their names follow a pretty noticeable pattern. Even if you haven’t studied Japanese, you’ve likely read about their names and explanations thereof in countless numbers of profiles online. For the sake of a quick summary, the Japanese no (の) serves as a possessive and can mean something similar to “of” or signify ownership, much like ” ‘s ” in English. In this way, the last name of each of the characters makes a nice wordplay which signifies not only elemental affinity, but the celestial object they’re tied to. Though the English names for the planets are gaining traction in recent years, traditionally the other inner planets (excluding Earth) and Jupiter have been referred to by elements, which ties back into the elemental affinities of the inner soldiers.

Mercury to Jupiter, in Japanese

Mercury to Jupiter, in Japanese

Here you can see the Japanese names of the planets: Mercury (水星; suisei – water planet), Venus (金星; kinsei – metal planet), Earth (地球; chikyuu – earth globe), the Moon (; tsuki – Moon), Mars (火星; kasei – fire planet), and Jupiter (木星; mokusei – wood planet).

The same characters are found in the name of the Sailor Soldiers: 月野うさぎ (Tsukino, Usagi – Usagi/Rabbit of the Moon), 衛 (Chiba, Mamoru – Mamoru/Protector of the Earth), 水野亜美 (Mizuno, Ami – Ami of the Water), 火野レイ (Hino, Rei – Rei of the Fire), 木野まこと (Kino, Makoto – Makoto of Wood), and 愛野美奈子 (Aino, Minako – Minako of… Love). As you can see, Minako breaks out of this system in a pretty dramatic way and leaves us with the question of just why is it that Ms. Takeuchi decided to not follow the pattern with her in the first place.

The Sailor of Love and Beauty

The Sailor of Love and Beauty

The easiest answer, of course, is simply that Minako came first, as we talked about before in her debut in Sailor V, approximately half a year prior to her appearance in the Sailor Moon manga. Minako is the self-proclaimed Sailor Soldier of love and beauty, so it only makes sense that she has a name that matches, right? Obviously her character being created prior to the rest and before Ms. Takeuchi herself had the naming patter down clearly plays a roll in this, but there are several other reasons which likely played into the decision.

For one, in order to name Minako after the planet Venus (and to conform with the naming system of the rest of the Sailor Soldiers), she would have had to name her 金野美奈子 (Kin’no, Minako). This name unfortunately doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in Japanese, and obviously is a little too close to comfort with Makoto’s name. The other reason is that, through a clever play on kanji readings, it turns out that Ms. Takeuchi already did manage to sneak Venus into her name, all without having to bother with using her last name to do it.

As you may know (and probably noticed above), Japanese kanji can generally be read at least two different ways, very often more. These readings are referred to as their on and kun readings.1 Taking Ami’s name, for example, her last name Mizuno (野) contains the same character as Suisei (星). The same applies to Hino (野) and Kasei (星), and Kino (野) and Mokusei (星). Well, if one were to take alternative readings for Minako‘s () first name, you can actually pronounce her name as Binasu2 – the older Japanese romanization of the English name “Venus.”

So while it might not be apparent on the surface, it turns out that Ms. Takeuchi did manage to slip the the planetary reference into Minako’s name! It’s amazing how far she really thought these things through…

Was Makoto a Member of a Gang?

The Juvenile Delinquent, Makoto Kino

The Juvenile Delinquent, Makoto Kino

Out of all of the Inner Sailor Soldiers, Makoto is definitely the one who has changed the most from her original inception and her final incarnation in the manga. Ami and Rei of course also differed from the original plans written up by Ms. Takeuchi (to say nothing of the differences between manga and anime Rei) – though the differences weren’t quite as dramatic as Makoto – while Minako stayed largely the same, thanks greatly in part to the fact that she starred in her own prequel manga running parallel to the Sailor Moon universe.

Mamoru Chino, p. 237, vol. 3 of Sailor Moon

Mamoru Chino, p. 237, vol. 3 of Sailor Moon

As we’ve discussed previously, the Makoto Kino that we know today was originally to be known as Mamoru Chino, a cigarette-smoking, rough-and-tumble junior high school girl. Naoko’s notes here read (clockwise, starting from the top):

  • Wait until you’re an adult before you start smoking!
  • This is the first name I thought up for Mako-chan
  • In the beginning, she was a juvenile delinquent sukeban (to be discussed below)
  • “Chino, Mamoru”

So we can see here that Makoto was originally planned to be something of a juvenile delinquent though, in Ms. Takeuchi’s own words, apparently she had been reformed somewhat. Though, the question is: did Makoto really change all that much from Naoko’s original plan?

Sukeban style

Sukeban style

When we first meet Makoto in the manga,1 she’s introduced as the new transfer student to class 2-6 who wears a different school uniform due to “the sizes not fitting,” and according to Umino, was kicked out of her previous school for fighting.2 One of the first things that stands out is not so much that she’s wearing a different school uniform per se, but the style and how she’s wearing it. The long skirt Makoto wears is reminiscent of the sukeban fashion of the time, the mark of a female juvenile delinquent which was popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The most popular example of this at the time is probably from the manga Delinquent Girl Detective (スケバン刑事),3 a manga series which has been adapted into an OVA, live-action drama, and live-action movies. The word sukeban itself is an abbreviation of sukebanchou (女番長), which stands for “female gang leader.”

In addition to the other variations/accessories to the style,4 some of the main hallmarks of the sukeban was the long skirt, the rolled-up sleeves, and the lack of the bow or ribbon that typically accompanied the sailor schoolgirl uniform. All of these, as you may have noticed, are present in Makoto’s character design.

Last, but not least, for the evidence toward Makoto still retaining the wild streak Ms. Takeuchi had originally planned for her, is the scene in the manga where Motoki, possessed by a youma, tries to seduce Makoto.5 In the scene, we can see Makoto, alone, going to a vending machine late at night.

Makoto purchasing beer at a vending machine

Makoto purchasing beer at a vending machine

What’s noteworthy about this scene, however, is the sign at the top of the machine which reads “Asa__ Beer.”6 At the time (and even today), it wasn’t uncommon to find vending machines selling alcohol that anyone could purchase from without supervision or needing to prove your age,7 which it looks like Makoto is doing in this scene.

While Makoto may not be – as far as the storyline canon is concerned – a member of a gang, it’s pretty clear that Ms. Takeuchi’s original intentions for the character are that she has some strong anti-social tendencies and, even if not directly involved in gang-like behavior, definitely bears a strong resemblance to the anti-establishment movements at the time. It’s also pretty evident that, though I’m sure she was tamed down a little bit and became even more so as the series progressed, Ms. Takeuchi intended for her to still be something of a troubled and openly defiant young girl. I’d love to see more of her notes on this someday, but for now we have to just make do with what you can see in the manga!

How Were the Sailor Soldiers Reborn After the Fight With Queen Beryl?

The Tragic Passing of the Sailor Soldiers

The Tragic Passing of the Sailor Soldiers

Talking about the Sailor Moon timeline is a bit of a grey area right out of the gate, simply because the anime and the manga obviously differ, and pretty greatly at that. Obviously this is a fictional universe so we can’t hold out a lot of hope for things to be 100% accurate, nor should it be. If we were concerned with absolute accuracy, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be talking about junior high school girls fighting the forces of evil to begin with! But to the extent that we can recreate the timeline and make some sense of it, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

We talked in-depth before regarding how long the fight against the Dark Kingdom and Queen Beryl would have taken and ultimately came up with thirty-three days, with a lot of caveats of course. Though I haven’t checked the anime – and with 46 episodes which need to be watched, I’m afraid it would take an incredibly long time to do a thorough analysis – but my gut instinct is that there the battle against the forces of the Dark Kingdom took a little under a year, though seems to be fair to assume that the series followed along close to real time.1 These timeline issues actually are pretty helpful in answering the above question, regarding how the Sailor Soldiers came back to life after their untimely demise in their battle against the D-Girls in the anime. That’s right! Today, we’ll be talking about the anime timeline, though we’ll turn back and tie this into the manga where we can.

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What Health Problems Did Usagi’s Voice Actress Suffer From During Recording?

Dr. Usagi - Always Willing to Help

Dr. Usagi – Always Willing to Help

Kotono Mitsuishi1 was far from an up-and-comer when she had joined the cast of Sailor Moon to play the lead role — immediately after her graduation from high school in 1986 she joined a voice acting vocational school and got her first voice acting job in 1988 as Tomoyo in the OVA titled Aim for the Ace! 2, based on a manga of the same name.2 Her career really picked up with her taking up the role of Usagi in Sailor Moon, though she continued to play a variety of roles in other anime (including Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion).

It seems a bit odd, then, that right at the climax of the series — from the awakening of the Princess Serenity, through the fight with Queen Beryl, and into the beginning of the Cardian arc — that the voice of the titular character would suddenly change. From episodes 44 through 50, Kae Araki3 (who would later go on to play ChibiUsa several episodes later during Sailor Moon R) stood in for Kotono and played the roll admirably, though it obviously stood out in fans minds and, even more notably, it apparently stuck with Kotono herself and is said to be one of her greatest regrets. In her essay collection, titled “Moon, Stars, and the Sun” (月 星 太陽),4 she talks frankly about the tough time she had on missing out on episodes 44 through 46 — the conclusion of Sailor Moon — due to being hospitalized.

Kotono Mitsuishi - The Voice of Sailor Moon

Kotono Mitsuishi – The Voice of Sailor Moon

We know that she was hospitalized, but what for? At the time, a public announcement was made (from her agents and voice acting studio, I assume) stating that she had an appendicitis which is why she wouldn’t be able to perform for awhile. The numbers don’t quite add up, though. Typical recovery times for an appendicitis are around two to three weeks5 at maximum, while she was absent for approximately two months.

So what really happened? Well, it turns out that the story was much more alarming (and helps explain why the studio didn’t want to tell this to the enthusiastic fans of the show which were mostly young children) that it seems. As she later revealed on her blog, Kotono had undergone surgery for an ovarian cyst and was in the hospital for a month recovering from it when she missed out on recording episodes 44 through 46, followed by bed-rest at home, which is why she was unable to participate in the recording through episode 50. To make matters worse, she suffered from a concurrent outbreak of peritonitis which actually put her life itself in danger.6

健康診断受けてきました。これは無精しちゃいけません。男性は勿論のこと、女性はとくに婦人科検診なのさ。ホント無精しちゃいけません!ちょっとあの台はイヤだけどね(-_-;)

三石24才のときよ、「卵巣のう腫」に穴があき、腹膜炎併発で命に関わる事態になってしまったんです。即手術、一ヶ月入院、三ヶ月自宅療養。
家族、仕事のスタッフみ〜んなに迷惑をかけました。そしてなにより、自分が辛かった…。

はい!
皆で行けば怖くない!
安心もらいに検診へゴー!ゴー!

In English:

I just got my health checkup. You can’t be lazy about these things. For men too, of course, but women definitely need to get gynecological checkups, y’know. You absolutely cannot slack off on this! That table really sucks, thus… (-_-;)
You know, when I was 24, a hole opened up in an “ovarian cyst” and at the same time, I suffered a case of peritonitis, which actually put my life at risk. I had emergency surgery and was hospitalized for a month followed by three months’ bed rest.

It was a huge hassle for my family, the staff at work, and everyone else. Even worse, it was just awful for me!
It’s not scary if we all go together!
Let’s get checked up so we don’t need to worry! GO, GO!

So as you can see, the whole situation was actually pretty dangerous which, fortunately, worked out well in the end. But there is a happy ending to this story: it turns out that through the Animate Cassette Collection (audio-only versions of the stories told in the anime, sold exclusively through the Animate store chain), Kotono actually played Usagi for their recording of the final scenes of Sailor Moon.7 One way or another, she was able to take the character through the end of her (first) story!

Sailor Moon Audio Cassette Collection

Sailor Moon Audio Cassette Collection

What is the Story Behind the R in Sailor Moon R?

Sailor Moon Rrrr......rrr?

Sailor Moon Rrrr……rrr?

One of the more enduring mysteries about the Sailor Moon anime franchise is what the “R” in the second season of the anime, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R, actually stands for. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “hotly contested,” it is one of those questions which you’ll get a different answer for every person you ask. Before we go on, though, one thing to get out of the way is to discuss the way that Ms. Takeuchi handles this in the manga, seeing as the manga didn’t have seasons, per se, even though the themes of the stories did change in both the anime and manga around the same time and always happened around March or April of each year.1 In the manga, the five major story arcs are named:

  1. Dark Kingdom [February 1992 – March 1993]
  2. Black Moon [April 1993 – March 1994]
  3. Death Busters [March 1994 – March 1995]
  4. Dead Moon [April 1995 – March 1996]
  5. Sailor Stars [April 1996 – March 1997]

The anime, by contrast, in Japan is referred to as:

  1. Mujirushi (無印; lit. ‘unlabeled’) [March 7, 1992 – February 27, 1993]
  2. R [March 6, 1993 – March 12, 1994]
  3. S(uper) [March 19, 1994 – February 25, 1995]
  4. SuperS [March 4, 1995 – March 2, 1996]
  5. Sailor Stars [March 9, 1996 – February 8, 1997]

There is some debate among fans regarding Sailor Moon S as well and whether or not it stands for Super, since it seems silly to have Super followed by SuperS, but alas, that is irrefutable due to the fact that the title is sung during the eyecatch.2 You can watch and hear it for yourself here!

Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal

So that brings us back to “R” and where the title comes from! Unfortunately, the eyecatch is of no help, since it simply says “Sailor Moon R!” There are many theories floating around, including that it stands for Romance, suggesting that this is because the series takes on more of a romantic turn in the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru. However, that theory doesn’t really pan out, since the anime had to run with Cardian storyline for three months3 to allow Ms. Takeuchi to get ahead in the manga so they could follow the story.4 This means that they wouldn’t have known yet that the theme of the series was ‘romance’ anyway.

Other common theories are Return (since the series came back to the airwaves), Rabbit (after Usagi), Remake (since it’s theorized that the characters were reborn and the year was restarted, explaining no change in age), and Ribbon (… no idea where this came from!). One strong contender for the Return theory is that on the TV program Quiz: Hint de Pint,5 which also aired on TV Asahi (the same station that Sailor Moon aired on) the host, Masaru Doi, read the title of Sailor Moon R as “Sailor Moon Return” in the episode airing July 25, 1993.

Quiz: Hint de Pint

Quiz: Hint de Pint

While we can’t say for sure, one thing that further adds to the mystery is that there’s another series which came out right at around the same time which to which the author also gave its sequel the “R” title after its name: the science fiction Somon Valley series by Katsuhiko Takahashi.6 The Somon Valley series first made its debut in 1985 and the follow-up novel, Somon Valley R7 was released in 1991. Now at first glance this could just be a coincidence, but it’s also worth noting that the producer of the Sailor Moon anime, Iriya Azuma,8 belonged to the science fiction club of Keio University (incidentally, the same university Motoki Furuta and Mamoru in the anime attend) and is apparently quite familiar with science fiction in general. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that Mr. Azuma was influenced by this title when name the new Sailor Moon anime series.

Regardless of which camp you fall under, it’s an enduring mystery that will keep people guessing for quite awhile longer, I’m sure, or at least until some sort of behind-the-scenes reference material comes out! Hopefully one day we’ll get an straight answer, but for now we’ll just have to enjoy theorizing!

What Do We Know About Miss Haruna’s Family?

The Four Sakurada Girls

The Four Sakurada Girls

[Haruna (upper left, Sailor Moon), Akina (upper left, to the right of Haruna, PQ Angels), Natsuna (bottom left, Sailor V), Fuyuna (far right, Cherry Project), Haruna (left of Fuyuna, Cherry Project)]

Haruna – Sailor Moon

Haruna – Sailor Moon

Well, we certainly do end up talking a lot about families, don’t we? The story of the rarely-discussed yet just-as-essential English teacher at Juban Junior High School is actually pretty interesting, when you realize all the thought that Ms. Takeuchi put into her. Though we don’t really know a lot about her life in general, we do know that in addition to being one of the few recurring non-main-cast characters which has been consistent across all of the various iterations of Sailor Moon,1 we also know that she and her sisters all seem to be pulled into all sorts of super natural drama.

Before we go any further, though, we should touch on her name briefly. Her last name, Sakurada (桜田), essentially means field (田) of cherry blossoms (桜) and her first name, Haruna (春菜), means spring (春) greenery/vegetables (菜).

Natsuna – Sailor V

Natsuna – Sailor V

The Police Chief – Natsuna

It’s not incredibly uncommon knowledge that there is a character in the Sailor V manga which bears a striking similarity to Haruna—the go-get-’em Superintendent-General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, Natsuna (夏菜) Sakurada (桜田). The kanji for Natsuna means summer (夏) greenery/vegetables (菜). It’s been theorized by fans for a long time that there’s quite possibly a familial relationship between Haruna and Natsuna since they not only share the same last name, but live in the same part of Tokyo. Many have claimed that it’s been officially stated by Ms. Takeuchi2 that Natsuna is Haruna’s younger sister. It’s a bit hard to believe that the (young-looking) Haruna’s younger sister is in fact that Superintendent General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, but all the stories seem to be consistent in this regard (and there’s a further reason for believing this, which we’ll touch on a bit later).

Fuyuna – Cherry Project, vol. 3, p. 176

Fuyuna – Cherry Project, vol. 3, p. 176

The Ballerina – Fuyuna

What is slightly less well known is that Sailor Moon is not the first time Ms. Takeuchi had used the character of Haruna. Her first appearance was in the manga Cherry Project, which was serialized in Nakayoshi magazine from October 1990 through December 1991. Much like with Sailor Moon, Haruna serves as the Chieri’s (the protagonist) homeroom teacher. Wanting to help teach the young and upcoming ice skater a sense of peace, balance, and simplicity in movement, Haruna gives Chieri a ticket to a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. It is later revealed that the star of the ballet is her younger sister, Fuyuna (冬菜) Sakurada (桜田). As with the other two, her name means winter (冬) greenery/vegetables (菜).

The Classic Literature Teacher – Akina

Last but not least, we get the fourth in the line of the Sakurada girls, Akina (秋菜) and, as with the rest, her name means autumn (秋) greenery/vegetables (菜). She exists in the PQ Angels universe, which was carried in Nakayoshi in 1997, and plays the role of their homeroom teacher and also teaches classical literature at Koganemushi Academy. Though it’s never stated that she’s related to Haruna (in fact, unlike in the rest of the universes created by Ms. Takeuchi, it seems pretty unlikely that this series exists within the same timeline as the shared universe of Sailor VSailor Moon, and Cherry Project), they do share the same last name and also the occupation as a junior high school teacher.

Akina – PQ Angel

Akina – PQ Angel

Though we can’t say with 100% certainty that they’re all related, we do know that Haruna and Fuyuna are at least sisters, and that Natsuna is also likely Haruna’s younger sister. Between a police chief, professional ballet dancer, and two public school teachers, the Sakurada’s are a pretty ambitious family, it seems! As for why it may be possible that Natsuna actually is Haruna’s younger sister, I would say the best assumption is found in their names—all four girls are named after the four seasons. Though it’s nothing more than a theory, it’s possible that the girls were named in the order that they were born: Spring (Haruna), Summer (Natsuna), Autumn (Akina), and Winter (Fuyuna). Not absolute proof, of course, but in a series where Ms. Takeuchi has thought so much about names and birthdates, it is definitely possible!

What is the Story Behind Nephrite’s Alter Ego?

Nephrite and his Ferrari 512 TR

Nephrite and his Ferrari 512 TR

After Jadeite’s death in the anime in episode 13, the task of seeking out more energy for the Dark Kingdom fell upon Nephrite and his astrology-inspired plots to acquire as much energy from one person at their peak rather than many people at large, as his predecessor had tried. Even more unlike Jadeite (and even the rest of the four kings), he actually created a human persona and directly interacted with the sailor soldiers and supporting cast.1 Making his debut as Masato Sanjouin (三條院正人), he poses as a young business entrepreneur (though his business is never explained) who owns a mansion somewhere on the outskirts of Tokyo and an expensive sports car.

Sailor Mercury has no respect for cars

Sailor Mercury has no respect for cars

On the topic of that sports car, now is as good of a time as any to mention that the design used in the anime was taken off of a real-life vehicle, and a pretty impressive one at that. The model for the car used was the Ferrari Testarossa and, more specifically, the 512 TR model.2 What’s even more impressive about this is that the episode in which Nephrite’s car debuted first aired on June 13, 1992 — just three months after the car was first unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in in March of the same year.3 The writers and art directors of the Sailor Moon anime were clearly on a rushed schedule as it is, and this definitely shows the very short lead time they must have been working with.

The Real Thing

The Real Thing

The car cost over 20 million yen when it first came out in Japan and, as an import model in an increasingly weakening Japanese economy, would obviously be a pretty rare sight at the time, though apparently according to an interview, Ms. Takeuchi remarked that when she moved into her new apartment / workspace, she was surprised to see that one of the other residents there owned a bright red Ferrari. Though her involvement in the anime on an episode-by-episode basis seems to have been relatively minor, her love for cars is well known and appears multiple times throughout the series,4 so this experience may have been a partial inspiration for Nephrite’s car in the anime.

Emperor Sanjou

Emperor Sanjou

Finally, where does his assumed name, Masato Sanjouin, come from? Well, the best that I could come up is the partial play on the kanji in his first name, 正人, though it’s a pretty common name and doesn’t mean anything in its own right. The two kanji, taken individually, mean “True” and “Person.”5 As the alter ego of an enemy, the irony is definitely there! Now for his last name, 三條院, this is unfortunately all pure speculation, but after researching it further, the best I can come up with is that it’s likely a reference to Emperor Sanjou who reigned from 1012 to 1016. After his death, he was given the posthumous name of Sanjou-in, in reference to the palace where he spent his last days.6 While an emperor who reigned for a mere 5 years before going blind seems like an obscure and unlikely reference, though there may actually be something behind it.

Emperor Sanjou is only known to have written 8 poems (of the tanka variety), the most famous of which being known as Kokoro ni mo or “[Longing] of the Heart.”7

心にも あらで浮世に ながらへば 恋しかるべき 夜半の月かな

Or, in English:

I will find myself longing for the sight of the midnight moon.

Taken in context from the point of view of a villain soon to be redeemed by learning of the power of love, I’d say that these are pretty fitting words and a great hidden — if obscure — reference for Nephrite’s human side. Put into this context, it definitely puts a more interesting spin on Nephrite’s outlook when we went out to engage with the humans he set out to steal energy from. Who would have known that Nephrite was already a hopeless romantic before he even met Naru!

What Does Ami’s 300 IQ Score Actually Mean?

Ami and her Rumored 300 Point IQ Score

Ami and Her Rumored 300 Point IQ Score

One of the first and most important things to mention when talking about Ami’s enormous IQ is that (in the manga, at least) it’s actually an unsubstantiated rumor that she has a 300 point IQ in the first place,1 spread by her classmates in Juban junior high school.

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What Does the P in Luna-P Mean?

Luna-P Attack!

Luna-P Attack!

I’d hate to make you read through all of this and keep your hopes up for a definitive answer the whole time, so I’m just going to spoil it all now and say that there actually is no meaning behind the “-P” in “Luna-P.”  But wait! Before you move on, you should at least stay for the back story behind this mysterious appended letter, because there’s actually a rather interesting story behind it!

The first thing to mention that there are actually a lot of characters with the “P” nickname, and not just in Sailor Moon (Mina-P, Luna-P, and even Naru’s mother’s jewelry show, the Osa-P), but in Japanese media in general (Noriko ‘Nori-P’ Sakai1 and Tomohisa ‘Yamapi’ Yamashita2 being notable examples). This was a big boom in the late 80’s and early 90’s and even still crops up in Japan today, even if it is seen as a bit of an older fad.3 Going back to our Osa-P example in Sailor Moon, is named after Ms. Takeuchi’s editor at Nakayoshi, Fumio Osabu. The ‘Osa’ part of his name was taken and the cute modifier ‘-P’ added, and then bam! Instant jewelry shop.

Osa-BU and Osa-P – See the Resemblance?

Osa-BU and Osa-P – See the Resemblance?

But that doesn’t answer our (revised) question of where this -P naming trend comes from. To do that, we need to go back to our real-world examples from before – particularly Ms. Noriko Sakai who debuted in 1986 as a singer/idol. Early on in her career, she went by the nickname “Nori-P” – a moniker invented by her and Hideyoshi Aizawa, the president of the talent agency she worked for – and as a part of her branding would introduce a whole slew of unique words and phrases which were picked up by the media as the so-called “Nori-P Go” (lit. Nori-P Language; Nori-P-isms).4 This was made up as a form of branding to form a cohesive brand image for her and to appeal to both young women and adult males alike, by putting an emphasis on her creative childishness, a very important part back then as well as today in Japan’s kawaii culture.

Noriko Sakai in the 1980s

Noriko Sakai in the 1980s

But if she was already using the -P moniker back in 1986, it must have come from somewhere, right? Or did she and her manager create this all by herself?

Well, there’s actually slightly more to the story, since  this is actually a derivation on her nickname in junior high school, Norippe. This type of nickname – the -ppe addition to someone’s name – dates back even further in Japanese culture and actually has its roots in linguistics and different dialects across Japan, though it’s far less commonly used now.5 This comes from the word hyoue (兵衛), which is also read as bee (as in “eh”) when read as a part of a compound noun or a name. When attached to another word, it’s used in a similar manner to hickbumpkin, or Joe Nobody depending on the context.6

This bee started to get attached to people’s names before ultimately becoming pronounced by people through repeated use as ppe through the linguistic phenomenon of phonetic change7, which then ultimately inspired Ms. Sakai to adopt her school-girl nickname of Nori-ppe into Nori-P when she went about creating her idol persona.

So, to make this incredibly long story short, what does the P in Luna-P stand for, exactly? While it doesn’t stand for anything directly, it is definitely a sign of the times and, though slightly dating the world of Sailor Moon, adds a certain early-90’s atmosphere to the world of the Sailor Soldiers, and I suppose we can thank future Ami (as the inventor of Luna-P) in the far-flung future of Neo Tokyo and her nostalgia for her youth in introducing ChibiUsa to a simpler time!

How Long Did the Fight Against Beryl and the Dark Kingdom Last?

June 2003 Calendar from Sailor Moon Channel

June 2003 Calendar from Sailor Moon Channel

This is one of those issues that at first glance seems hard to really get a handle on it, but the more you dig, the more you learn that the Sailor Moon series – in the manga, at least – has a pretty definite and reliable time line. Before we get further into this question (and inevitably come up with our answer), though, we need to lay out a few ground rules to help us identify what you’re really asking.

First off, we are only considering the Dark Kingdom arc for the time being, or Acts 1 through 14 of the shinsouban manga re-release in 2003/2004.1 Next, and directly related to the first, we’re restricting our estimate to the manga right now, since the anime had far too many episodes and definitely makes things more difficult to calculate (though I’d enjoy taking a shot at it someday!). Finally, though we can give ourselves a minimum estimate due to how characters interact, the statements they make, and when one day runs right into the next, it’s unfortunately not possible to give ourselves a maximum estimate, shy of saying “it took less than a year.” So, now that we got that out of the way, how many days did the battle against the forces of the Dark Kingdom take?

Thirty three days, or thereabout. So, let’s take a look at the breakdown! The following is an act-by-act analysis of how many days at an absolute minimum, along with the reasoning behind it. Where more than one day could have passed, I assumed the minimum.

  1. 1 day – Surprisingly, the first act takes place all within one day. Not much to say.
  2. 3 days – It’s not clear how much time passed between Acts 1 and 2, but Luna is still explaining the absolute basics to Usagi,2 so we can safely assume no time has passed.
  3. 3 days – Again, we don’t know how many days passed between Acts 2 and 3, but Ami remarks at the arcade with Luna and Usagi that she can’t believe she’s a sailor soldier,3 so it seems safe to assume that it’s the following day.
  4. 2 days –The Act starts with Luna researching Mamoru and Sailor Moon being in the paper, so we can safely say it’s the following day.
  5. 1 day – This is one of the first acts that really has a lot of uncertainty over how much time passed in between. We really have nothing to go on either way, other than the fact that Makoto appears in the end of the Act 4, and that Usagi and her friends talk about how great it would be to be a June bride.4 Since school hasn’t just begun (in April in Japan) and there was no long vacation (Golden Week,5 in the first week of May), we can assume that the story thus far has taken place in mid- to late-May.
  6. 3 days – An indefinite amount of time passes between when Zoisite first comes on TV and everyone starts to obsess over finding the crystal, though from the way the scenes play out, it almost suggests it’s either the same day, or chronologically close. I’ve assumed the minimum.
  7. 4 days – The amount of time to pass after Usagi wakes up at Mamoru’s house is unclear, so I’ve assumed the minimum. Later, when Naru is renting videos, she remarks that she planned to watch movies “all weekend,”6 and is wearing her school uniform, meaning it must have been a weekday, probably Friday. The next scene, she has those same videos (possibly to return them, on Monday),7 which is what gives us our estimate of four days.
  8. 2 days – Hard to say how much time has passed, so I assumed the minimum.
  9. 7 days – Ikuko apologizes for Usagi worrying her friends so much and coming every day, and the girls (Ami?) remark that it’s already been one week.8
  10. 4 days – They spend time researching how to get to the Moon, Usagi asks her father to turn the Legendary Silver Crystal into a necklace, etc. so it’s a bit hard to say. I assumed a minimum of four days.
  11. 4 days – Umino, Naru, and Luna all remark that Usagi has been going to the game center “every day”9 to go see Endo. Assuming they all aren’t hugely exaggerating, I’d say this has to be no less than four days from what we see.
  12. 0 days – From here on out, the rest of the Acts take place on the same day.
  13. 0 days
  14. 0 days

Seeing that Usagi’s June 30th birthday (as we discussed previously) doesn’t take place during the run of the Dark Kingdom arc, and that Mamoru’s August birthday is mentioned later in the Black Moon arc, it’s a safe bet that the series played out over the course of mid- to late-May and through June.

I don’t know about you, but with all of Usagi’s talk about being a slacker, loving sleep, and her family and friends talking about never getting stuff done, I’d say she had a pretty eventful month. Saving the world in 30 days is pretty good for anyway, especially a self-proclaimed slacker!

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