How Different Was the Pacing of the Sailor Moon Anime and Manga?

The Sailor Soldiers and Their Princess

The Sailor Soldiers and Their Princess

Taking into consideration that the manga was serialized in Nakayoshi magazine at a rate of one act per month1 while the anime needed to consistently churn out episodes on a weekly basis, it’s plain to see that there would be definite pacing differences between the two. What’s interesting, though, is that when you take the time to actually look at the data, the story flow of the Sailor Moon anime and manga are actually more similar than you would assume. A word of warning: we’re going to be looking at a lot of numbers today!

First off, we need to establish our points of comparison. We know that the manga ran for 52 acts and the anime for 200 episodes. For the sake of a fair comparison, though, I believe we need to remove the Cardian Arc (as much as I may like it) from the Sailor Moon R anime and also the beginning of Sailor Stars since it was a continuation of the Nehelenia story line. We also will not be counting the side stories (picture diaries, etc.) in the manga. Once you do that, here is how the numbers break down:

Number of Episodes and Acts by Story Arc
Story Arc Episodes Acts Eps/Acts
Dark Kingdom 46 13 3.5
Black Moon 30 10 3.0
Death Busters 38 10 3.8
Dead Moon 39 9 4.3
Sailor Stars 26 10 2.6
Total 179 52 3.4

As we can see, though it differed on a season-by-season basis, on average the anime had to make 3.4 episodes per act in the original manga – and that makes sense, considering they needed to track how the manga developed on a roughly monthly basis. But what does this mean for the actual story progression, and how did they differ due to this need to add episodes? Interestingly enough, it didn’t have as much on an impact as I would have thought, though the anime did choose to pad out the story in interesting ways (and even shorten certain story arcs, it seems).

In order to answer this question, I think the most clear-cut way is to look at important story events and compare how early/late they occurred and how much attention certain elements were given as a part of the total story arc. Let’s get started!

Dark Kingdom

As you can see here, this shows how much the series had progressed by the time the character was introduced (in percentages). For example, Ami appeared in Act 2 of the manga and episode 8 of the anime. This works out to 15% and 17% of the way through the plot, respectively, and is actually pretty close. Rei (at act 3 and episode 10, 23% and 22% respectively) is also pretty close in the manga and anime. Makoto and Minako, however, are a different story. It seems that the anime staff wanted to take a break from introducing new characters for a bit and held back for quite a while on Makoto’s introduction, probably until they were ready to bring in the Rainbow Crystal story line.

Speaking of which, you can also see that there was a great amount of difference in how the time between the Four Kings and the end-game (or with Queen Beryl as the main villain) was split up in the manga and the anime.2 First, the manga:

Interestingly enough, an equal (or near-equal) amount of attention was given to each of the main villains in the manga, including the end with the drawn-out battle against Queen Beryl/Metalia. How did things look in the anime, then?

And… wow. Jadeite and Kunzite have around the same respective shares, but I was surprised to see that Nephrite and Zoisite actually were around for nearly as long as the rest. Of course, the padding added to them greatly impacted the post-Kunzite part of the story, which was reduced to a paltry two episodes.

Overall, I think what I learned by taking a look at the actual numbers of the two tellings of the Dark Kingdom arc was that they’re surprisingly more similar than I had thought, when you take into account the volume differences. You could probably make other observations depending on how fine-toothed of a comb you want to use looking at the data (amount of times the Sailor Soldiers fight, number of days passing, side-character interactions, etc.), but I think this makes an informative visualization.

Unfortunately, this article has gone on a bit long, so we’ll have to save the analyses for the rest of the story arcs until the next part. What other interesting differences are waiting to be discussed, I wonder…?

Why Does Fiore Look So Much Like Ail and An?

Long Lost Siblings, Maybe? (left to right: Ail, Fiore, An)

Long Lost Siblings, Maybe? (left to right: Ail, Fiore, An)

The first time anyone sees the Sailor Moon R movie, I’m pretty sure one of the things to pop into their head is that, you know, the villain of the movie looks an awful lot like those villains, Ail and An, who appeared in the Cardian Arc of the anime. Surprisingly, though, despite the fact that it’s pretty obvious and seems like a consistency issue you’d like to address, absolutely none of the Sailor Soldiers (or even Fiore himself) address this issue. As silly as it sounds, this has been nagging at me for years and I finally decided to take a look into it.

Ail & An

Ail & An

One of the things that makes it much more difficult to use the Sailor Moon anime as a source when trying to pin down its various mysteries is the fact that you can never quite be sure what parts of the story are meant to be canon (i.e., fit into the larger context of the story and “actually happened”) and what events are meant to be side stories. Making matters worse, the anime wasn’t even too concerned about internal consistency for events that were clearly canon, like Sailor Pluto’s death at the end of Sailor Moon S and her casual reappearance in the SuperS movie and in the Stars anime, as if nothing had happened.

Typically, though, I think it’s safe to say that the Sailor Moon movies are non-canon, especially since the Sailor Team doesn’t seem too particularly concerned with other enemies at the time (the Black Moon Family is never mentioned in the R movie, etc.) and at the beginning of each season and the arrival of the next threat, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t been fighting any other enemies in the mean-time. That said, the Cardian Arc itself could be considered non-canon, which leaves us with a possible double-non-canon interesting plot issue.

Researching this issue lead me to a source I’ve gone to before to answer series canon questions; the December 1993 edition of Animage magazine1 which featured an interview on page 28 with the Sailor Moon R series (and movie) director, Kunihiro Ikuhara2 as a part of the promotion machine for the then-upcoming Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie.3 Much to my surprise, he actually addresses this question head on:


“As you can tell by looking at the enemy, this story is a renewal of the Ail and An arc. Of course, the angle we’re telling [the story from] is completely different.”

“Renewal,” when used like this in Japanese, would be akin to a remake in the West, with the implication that something has been updated and redone better than before, as with a shop being renewed, or the re-release shinsouban manga which was referred to as the “Renewal Edition.”4

Fiore also can't believe the answer is so simple...

Fiore also can’t believe the answer is so simple…

So after all these years of wondering if they’re from the same planet, if they were siblings, or if maybe all aliens outside of the Sol system looked that way (though this was disproved in Stars), it turns out the answer is really quite simple: the movie is taking the basic premise of the Cardian Arc and is a retelling, using story elements from the Black Moon Family (primarily ChibiUsa’s existence) to flesh out the story.

I’m happy to have this mystery finally put to rest, though to be honest a part of me does wish that there was a bit more to the story. I’ve always been a fan of the Cardian Arc and the characters appearing therein, so it would have been nice to see the story expanded upon rather than re-written. But it is good to know that Mr. Ikuhara did address the issue!

Why Is Makoto Always Chasing After Men?

On a Constant Quest for Love

On a Constant Quest for Love

It’s always been interesting to me just how far Ms. Takeuchi went to take various related sources and pool them all together when creating the designs and personalities for each of the Sailor Soldiers. I feel that this is much more obvious in the original, so-called “inner” soldiers (even if that name is a bit of a misnomer, considering Jupiter is most certainly an “outer” planet),1 though planetary and mythological inspiration can still be seen here and there in the colors and designs of the outer soldiers. For example, Usagi is smaller than the rest of the cast because the moon is itself small while, on the other end of the spectrum, Makoto is the tallest of the group. Taking a look at mythology, we have the obvious Selene and Endymion connection and of course, the Minako / Venus / Aphrodite “goddess of love” inspiration. But what about Makoto? What role does her unrequited love for her ex-crush (and subsequent chasing of other men reminding her thereof!) does her role as the soldier of Jupiter play?

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Did Moonlight Knight Make a Mistake in French?

The Moonlight Night... er.. Knight!

The Moonlight Night… er.. Knight!

Moonlight Knight is a bit of an oddball character in the Sailor Moon anime, as he’s one of the few “hero” characters that exist only in the anime with no manga connections at all. The whole Cardian Arc1 was completely made up for the anime only, supposedly to give Ms. Takeuchi a chance to prepare her next story arc while the anime rushed ahead of her, though I’ve always suspected that the true purpose of this was to give them a sort of teaser for the upcoming Sailor Moon R movie. That, however, is a story for another time. What we’re here to look at is: what’s with Moonlight Knight’s use of French?

* Not a subtitling error

* Not a subtitling error

Possibly even more than Tuxedo Mask himself, Moonlight Knight was fond of long, dramatic speeches.2 More interesting to me, though, is what he said when he departed. Despite his strong Arabian design, Moonlight Knight always leaves the Sailor Team with a fancy “adieu.” What’s noteworthy about this is that it appears to have been a mistake by the anime production staff, directly translating his さようなら (sayounara; good bye) into something more fancy-sounding without looking into the cultural context. The issue here is that adieu implies that you don’t believe that you will see the other party again (at least not soon), and that you are saying good bye with a sense of finality. What he should have said was au revoir, which is used when you do believe that you will be crossing paths in the near future.3

While I would like to say that there was some sort of deeper meaning to this word choice and over-analyze the issue, I’m afraid that this is pretty much clearly a case of not having done the appropriate cultural research. If I were to read into the issue, however, I would say that you could make the assertion that this was Moonlight Knight’s way of expressing that he hoped he and Mamoru would soon re-join (i.e., Mamoru’s physical / human form and his sense of duty to protect the Sailor Soldiers) and was bidding them farewell. Put another way, by implying he would see them again would suggest that Moonlight Knight did not intend to return to Mamoru and resume his activities in the form of Tuxedo Mask.

Of course, this is probably looking way too into it, but it’s at least an interesting tidbit, if nothing else! Since Mamoru is a university student in the anime, and many university students are required to learn a second foreign language (other than English), it’s entirely plausible that he did study some French. You’re pretty clever, Mamoru!

How Did Sailor Moon’s Disguise Pen Work?

It's Morphin' Time!

It’s Morphin’ Time!

Among all of the special items that Luna gives Usagi and all of the other Sailor Soldiers, I’ve always felt that the Disguise Pen was one of the most interesting, and yet also the most under represented. How is it that you could have a pen that could turn you into whatever you wanted to look like (and typically allow you to look like a grown adult despite being a fourteen year old girl…) and yet so rarely ever use it? In fact, out of its 11 appearances in the anime and six appearances in the manga,1 all but two of them in both the anime and manga occurred in the the Dark Kingdom arc.

What particularly interests me, though, is how more often than not Usagi manages to use the pen wrong and all the while still gets a semi-satisfactory result. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s take a look!

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How Did the Moon Frisbee Become the Moon Boomerang?

The Not-Boomerang Moon Boomerang

The Not-Boomerang Moon Boomerang

Few attacks in the history of the Sailor Moon series have undergone as many alterations as the sailor-suited soldier’s debut attack in both the manga and the anime. While it’s up for debate whether or not her crying, which unleashes ultrasonic sound waves that distract the youma Morga in the midst of her assault,1 is a special attack in its own right, in the tradition of most anime and live-action shows in the sentai fighting-force line, I think it’s fair to say that anything without an explicit name is just a part of them being super soldiers of justice. Otherwise, you will need to start coming up with names for their ability to jump to high places, a name for Sailor Jupiter’s punching, and more. That said, Sailor Moon’s tiara is the first named attack, but its name has gone through several major changes. What gives?

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Who Is the Demon Standing Behind Sailor Mars?

Mars and the Mysterious Demon

Mars and the Mysterious Demon

One thing that’s always been of great interest to me is the story about the demon that appears in the background when she throws her ofuda and stuns enemies. I’ll admit that, having first seen Sailor Moon with the (censored) DiC dub, the first time I saw the demon – which they forgot to censor in one episode of the first half of Sailor Moon R (in the Doom Tree saga)1 – it was pretty terrifying. It didn’t help that it was 2am and in a dark room, of course. So what’s the story behind the demon? Who is he, and what is his connection to Rei and her banishing of evil spirits?

Buddhist God Acala

Buddhist God Acala

As we’ve already discussed in the past, Rei’s use of religion is a bit of a mixed bag in the Sailor Moon series (and the anime in particular), so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to find out that this demon isn’t actually a Shinto god at all, but actually can be traced back to Buddhism. Now, that’s not to say that Buddhism and Shinto are two completely separate entities. They were originally, of course, but over the years (and in a desire to try to explain away inconsistencies in beliefs), many of the Buddhist bodhisattvas2 (in a nutshell, someone who has come to understand the trues teachings of Buddha; akin to a saint in Christianity) came to be worshipped as Shinto gods, and many popular Shinto gods were considered to be bodhisattvas. In the case of Rei’s banishing of spirits, however, there’s a strong and clear Buddhist connection.

The demon that we see here is not a demon at all, but rather the Buddhist god known as Acala,3 one of the five Wisdom Kings,4 who is traditionally depicted with a sword in his right hand, a lariat or a noose in his left, and fire in the background. Acala, known as Fudou Myou’ou (不動明王; Unmoving Wisdom King), gained quite a following in Japan5 and had a great deal of art, statues, and no less than 34 temples dedicated to him.6 Considering that strong tradition, his warrior-like nature, and the association with fire, it’s not too surprising that he was a good fit for Rei’s warding off of evil energies.

It seems like the more you look, the more there is to find in the Sailor Moon universe, and I’m always impressed at just how far not only Ms. Takeuchi went, but the TV Asahi and Toei staff in creating the companion anime series. It’s always exciting to see what other mysteries there are to uncover!

What Is the Shared Mythology Between Luna, Artemis, and Diana?

The Moon... Cat Family

The Moon… Cat Family

Of course we already know that Luna, Artemis, and Diana are connected through their familial connection, so there isn’t much of a mystery there. What is interesting about this connection, however, is that though Ms. Takeuchi may have recycled the name of Diana, she made a wonderful choice by choosing that as the name for Luna and Artemis’ adorable daughter.

Cat Family

Cat Family

Most people are probably aware of the connection between Luna’s name and the Moon, especially speakers of English and the romance languages, since the name has been been reappropriated for many moon-related terms in astronomy, events, and phenomena (e.g., lunar eclipse, lunar calendar, lunar tides, etc.). The source of this name, like many names associated with the planets and stars, is Roman mythology. The Roman goddess Luna1 is the goddess of the moon, corresponding to the Greek goddess Selene.2 Interestingly enough, this shows a nice, clear tie between Usagi — Princess Serenity — and Luna, which really shows up in the interplay between the pair.

What about Artemis, then? Well, sorry to say to the gruff, male assistant to the sailor-suited soldier, Sailor V, Artemis was also a goddess, this time of the Greek variety.3 It’s not all bad for poor Artemis (the cat!) though; the goddess he’s modeled after was known for her prowess as a hunter and was often depicted with a bow and arrow and was known as the protector of young girls, which fits in well with his position as confidant, advisor, and assistant to Minako.

The question of the day, then, is who is Diana, and how are Luna and Artemis connected to her?

Enter Diana (Act 20 of Sailor Moon Crystal)

Enter Diana (Act 20 of Sailor Moon Crystal)

Interestingly enough, Diana is also a Roman goddess of the moon.4 More specifically, she is the Roman counterpart to Artemis, known originally as a goddess of hunting (once again, like Artemis, many of her appearances in art depicted her with bows, arrows, and hunted beasts). Later, she became more widely known as the goddess of the moon, eventually coming to replace Luna in that role in Roman mythology. Indeed, Luna eventually came to be known as an epithet5 — a descriptive name, of sorts — for the goddess Diana. Ultimately, Diana is both Artemis and Luna, making the name a wonderful choice for the daughter of the two feline guardians.

One final little bit of trivia: the Romanian word for fairy, ZẤNĂ,6 is said to have come from the name Diana. That helps explain the moon fairy connection in her original incarnation!

How Was Mamoru Affected by His Amnesia?

Usagi brings Mamoru a Rose (Sailor Moon R Movie)

Usagi brings Mamoru a Rose (Sailor Moon R Movie)

While we know that Mamoru was pretty different between the manga and the anime and that his alter-ego Tuxedo Mask wasn’t spared from changes, it’s also worth taking a look at how one of the more notable traits about Mamoru – his amnesia – was treated between the two versions. As happens with a great majority of the cast of Sailor Moon, it all starts with the tragic death of Mamoru’s parents, when he’s six years old (according to the manga, on his sixth birthday). As the story goes, he and his family get into a car accident and he’s the only survivor, though he’s been left with amnesia. This is where I think things get interesting.

Let’s stop for a moment and think about what this amnesia means for a bit. Though we usually talk about amnesia as one big, abstract thing, there are actually multiple forms. What is typically referred to in the Sailor Moon series is the form where, due to some form of emotional or physical trauma, you lose your memories of events leading up to it. This is known as retrograde amnesia.1 While this is made out to be a big thing, when you think about it, it actually has very little impact on him. If he lost all of his memories at six years old and, at the time of the series, he’s 16 or 18 years old (in the manga and anime, respectively), that would mean that he’s spent more years gaining new memories than he’s lost. In fact, due to a phenomenon known as childhood amnesia,2 most people don’t remember anything prior to the age of three.

The Chiba Family (Act 7, vol. 2, p. 53)

The Chiba Family (Act 7, vol. 2, p. 53)

Now, I don’t mean to trivialize his hardship, but that means that Mamoru had 10-12 years to rebuild and make new memories to replace the three years of his life that he forgot. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that it’s actually a relatively minor issue, in the grand scheme of things. In fact, manga Mamoru doesn’t seem terribly affected by this other than mentioning concern over whether he really is Mamoru Chiba and that he has dreams of a woman telling him to find the Silver Crystal.3 What about anime Mamoru, then?

Mamoru's Transformation (ep. 19)

Mamoru’s Transformation (ep. 19)

Unfortunately, from what we see throughout the anime, he’s much worse off here. Not only does he suffer amnesia from before the accident, he also seems to suffer from occasional bouts of what’s known as anterograde amnesia,4 i.e., losing track of time and failing to create new memories as things happen. This seems to occur in conjunction with his transformation into Tuxedo Mask which, unlike in the manga, he’s actually unaware of his alternate identity entirely.

In Mamoru’s big reveal as Tuxedo Mask in the anime,5 upon sensing that Sailor Moon is in trouble trying to save Naru from Nephrite in his costume as the Tuxedo Mask imposter, Mamoru suddenly suffers from a massive headache as he’s walking down the street and drops to his knees before transforming into Tuxedo Mask.

What’s interesting here is that as he’s falling down, he says:

「ま、またか、頭がッ」 (ma, mataka, atama ga…)

“N.. not again, my head!”

So it seems that all of his transformations into Tuxedo Mask are not only happening without his knowledge, but he’s also left without any memories of it either.

I think it’s definitely interesting to see how both the manga and anime took the impact of the accident on Mamoru to completely different places. While it affected his sense of self in the manga (his sense of a missing past), more than anything else it seems to have caused a rift inside him in the anime, leading to the creation of Tuxedo Mask as a separate identity and his loss of memories during his transformation. Now if only someday someone would explain where all that money came from!

How Different Was Tuxedo Mask in the Anime and Manga?

The Dueling Masks

The Dueling Masks

Second only to Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask was one of the original suited soldiers of justice fighting for peace and love on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo. In addition to the rather substantial differences between anime and manga Mamoru, Tuxedo Mask (when taken as an individual character) was also rather different between the two. Today, we’re going to look at a few of those differences.

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