How Did the Youma of the Dark Kingdom Get Their Names? (Part 1)

The Many Faces of Morga

The Many Faces of Morga

One of the many recurring themes that we keep touching on over and over in the world of Sailor Moon is the significance of names, and the minions of the Dark Kingdom are no different. The majority of their names are either directly related to the specific youma’s power, appearance, or the main character of the day in the episode, but quite a few of them actually have a surprising backstory behind them! So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the names of the youma as they appeared in the first season, separated by who they served under.

Jadeite

  • Morga: This is a hard one since there’s really no direct links in Japanese or English to her name, but judging by her appearance, the ga part of her name is likely in reference to 餓 (ga), meaning “to starve.” She also remarks in the manga that Naru’s mother is likely starving to death and locked up.
    • Speaking of the manga, she’s one of the few “monsters of the day” who appeared in both the manga and the anime throughout the entirety of the Sailor Moon series, though she didn’t have a name in the manga.
  • Balm: A clever play off of the word “palm,” in reference to palm reading and, more generally, fortune telling.
  • Frau: Many people claim this is a play off of the Japanese word 振る (furu; to dump), but that doesn’t make sense in this context. Most likely it’s a play off of “flower,” in reference to the broaches given away that sap listerners’ energy.
  • Iguara: A pretty clear reference to an iguana, due to the pet shop which was opened and the design of the enemy.
    • As an aside, he cute animals that smell all-so-nice in this episode, chanela, are an obvious reference to Chanel, the brand of perfume.
  • Kyurene: Spelled the same in Japanese as Cyrene/Kyrene of Greek mythology, a strong and aggressive female hunter.1
  • Derella: Derived from a shortening of Cinderella.
  • Garoben: A play off of the Japanese term ガリ勉 (gariben) meaning to be fanatic about studying,2 and probably in reference to all the students and how hard they were studying (and as a result, having their energy taken from them).
  • Ramua: An anagram of the Japanese word for “alarm” (as in, alarm clock). A – Ra – Mu = Ra – Mu – A
  • Kigaan: A play off of the Japanese word 祈願 (kigan) meaning prayer,3 which is typically offered up at a Shinto  shrine.
  • Murid: “Dream” written backwards in Japanese. Do – Ri – Mu = Mu – Ri – Do
Ramua – Pretty Terrifying Makeup

Ramua – Pretty Terrifying Makeup

Nephrite

  • Tesuni: An anagram of the Japanese word for “tennis.” Te – Ni – Su = Te – Su – Ni
  • Petasos: This is likely in reference to the ancient Greek hat known by the same name, petasos, in reference to the hat which Nephrite uses to syphon energy.4
  • Widow: Pretty obviously in reference to the black widow spider.
  • Kyameran: Could be interpreted either as: (i) An “n” added to the Japanese word for camera, or (ii) a contraction of “camera” and “man” to become Cameran.
  • Jumeau: In reference to the Bisque dolls5 which were popular in the late 1800s. A French company, Jumeau,6 was one of the most famous manufacturers.
  • Regulus: Direct reference to the star, Regulus.
  • Castor and Pollux: In reference to the stars and the characters by the same name in Roman mythology.7
    • As an interesting aside, it’s said that the models for two of the staff at the animation studio appearing in this episode, Hiromi Matsuno and Kazuko Tadashita, are none other than Hiromi Matsushita and Kazuko Tadano (husband and wife character designers and animators working at Studio Live on producing Sailor Moon episodes at the time)8
Castor and Pollux

Castor and Pollux

This takes us all the way through the first half of the original season of Sailor Moon, but it’s already getting pretty long, so I think we’ll need to hold off for part two until the next time around. Next up, we’ll be taking a look at the youma which service under Zoisite and Kunzite, along with the Seven Great Youma themselves and those that served directly under Queen Beryl. There’s plenty of more trivia to be found!

Read on to part two here!

How Did the Youma Used by the Four Kings Differ?

Reference Sketches for Episode 20

Reference Sketches for Episode 20

While it’s pretty well known that the way each of the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom went about their job was different (as well as the objectives assigned to them by Queen Beryl), one of the interesting “blink and you’ll miss it” facts about this arc is that the youma1 who served under them were also different. I’d like to also go into how each of their names were also unique/relevant to the episode that they appeared in, but we’ll need to go into that sometime later due to the sheer volume of names we’d have to look at. So for now, let’s take a look at how the youma under each of the Four Kings differed!

Jadeite

In nearly all of the Jadeite episodes, there was generally some sort of transformation taking place, usually in the form of either Jadeite himself or the youma he dispatched dressing up and pretending to be a human. In the first episode, for example, Morga had abducted Naru’s mother and pretended to be her for at least several days. Though it’s unclear how long Naru’s mother was abducted, we do know that jewelry sales were going on for several days and in the manga she remarks that Naru’s mother is dying of starvation as they speak.2 Though it’s not always clear if they take the place of specific humans or sometimes simply make up an identity, this is the running theme throughout the Jadeite arc. Not one to miss out on the cosplay action, Jadeite himself also gets involved in multiple episodes: 3 (as a radio DJ), 10 (bus driver), and 11 (security guard) off the top of my head.

Nephrite

Nephrite is somewhat unique in that he gets involved more directly than the other Kings. However, the youma that he oversaw typically differed with those from Jadeite’s in that they rarely (if ever?) would actually transform into or pretend to be humans, but rather would possess Nephrite’s target as identified through his fortune-telling or something that belonged to and was important to them in order to steal their energy. Tesni and the tennis racket, Widou and the cloth, and Kyameran and the camera are all good examples of this. There is one exception to this rule, though, in episode 19 with Neprite Kamen, but I guess he just wanted a chance to be in the lime light!

Zoisite

Zoisite’s case is a bit different, since the majority of the youma working under (with?) him can’t even be said to be serving under him at all in the first place. However, nearly all of those that appear in this arc are one of the Seven Great Youma, each tied to one of the seven Rainbow Crystal shards and being reincarnated as humans. They were said to have been the strongest of Queen Beryl’s minions, so it’s possible that several millennia they served under Zoisite, but that’s unclear.

Binah – One of the Seven Great Youma (Ep. 28)

Binah – One of the Seven Great Youma (Ep. 28)

So anyway, the youma in this arc are unique in that they are all monsters reborn as humans, which has imbued their human form with special powers. Their youma form typically assumes a trait of the person they inhabited.

That’s not always the case, however, as seen in episodes 23 and 24, with Yasha and the three youma Zoisite sent to kill Nephrite. Unfortunately, with so few examples, we can’t really find a common theme between them.

Kunzite

Kunzite’s situation is interesting in that it’s basically the opposite of what Jadeite did: rather than have youma take the place of (or pretend to be) a human, he simply turned a human into a youma to cause them to do his dirty work. Though it’s not clear (and never really explained in the series) if he causes a youma working under him to possess the human and Sailor Moon uses the power of the Silver Crystal to destroy it or if he simply imbues the human with powers which causes them to become a youma, which Sailor Moon cleanses from them. My guess is the latter, since they still seem to have human emotions and maintain their relationships, as is the case with Janelyn and Misha in episode 39.

For something so minor and that could’ve easily devolved into a “monster of the day” segment, I’m personally glad that the anime producers went so far out of their way as to treat all of the Four Kings differently. Not only were their tasks different, but the way they went after their tasks were also sufficiently different and definitely kept the series interesting through the whole season!

Why Was Diana the Moon Fairy Cut From Sailor Moon?

The Three Lunar Guardians – Luna, Diana, and Artemis

The Three Lunar Guardians – Luna, Diana, and Artemis

One of the great mysteries surrounding the early years of Sailor Moon (and the characters developed for it) is around the character of Diana, the Moon Fairy who was to accompany Luna in her task of awakening Sailor Moon and searching for the Moon Princess. The fact that the name, Diana, was later reused for the daughter born between Luna and Artemis, and ChibiUsa’s post Luna-P companion, certainly makes matters all the more confusing when you try to look up information about her. And believe me, I certainly tried! So, what kind of character was Moon Fairy Diana originally supposed to be like, and what were the reasons for cutting her? Well, let’s find out!

Unfortunately, there’s really not much known about Diana outside of what’s written in the Materials Collection Artbook,1 so it’s hard to really go into much detail here. According to Ms. Takeuchi’s notes, she’s:

  • A cute fairy who’s mischievous, talkative, and sassy. Also a crybaby.
  • Found by the Sailor Team among the ruins of the Moon Palace, she sticks around with Luna and Usagi. She and Luna don’t get along.
  • She has pale blue wings with a light, lemon-yellow lace skirt.

What we do know is that she and Luna would have had a bit of an antagonistic relationship with each other, probably akin to the manzai comedy acts2 which are so popular in Japan. More specifically, most acts are made up of a pair of comedians playing very specific roles: the boke – who’s portrayed as light-headed, stupid, and innocent – and the tsukkomi – who’s serious, easily angered, and doesn’t put up with the nonsense from the boke.3 Here, it’d likely be Diana and Luna playing those roles, respectively.

Luna and Diana – Amateur Comedy Hour

Luna and Diana – Amateur Comedy Hour

So, why was it that Diana was cut from the story? While we’ll never really know for sure (at least without getting official word from Ms. Takeuchi, which seems unlikely this many years later), it’s most likely that she simply was too similar to Usagi. Just by reading the blurb about what her personality was meant to be like – mischievous, talkative, sassy, and a crybaby – there isn’t that too much that differs with Usagi. Also, while Ms. Takeuchi didn’t exactly steer clear from comedic moments (especially in the Codename: Sailor V manga), it seems that as the series progressed the characters had come more into their own and the idea of making Luna into a comedy-relief duo became less and less appealing.

While it’s a shame that we’ll probably never really know what kind of character the Moon Fairy Diana was meant to evolve into, ultimately I think I like her successor – ChibiUsa’s feline guardian – better than what this character would have been. Still, though, I’d love to see more material that ultimately got cut!

What Does Rei’s Name Mean?

What's in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

As anyone who’s started out on the massive undertaking of learning Japanese can probably tell you, there are three different writing systems used in Japanese: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana are nearly identical except for their usage – hiragana is used for native Japanese words, while katakana is used for words of foreign origin or for sounding things out (such as onomatopoeia). Kanji is used in conjunction with hiragana1 to add context and meaning to words or names.

The reason why this is important is that Rei’s name not only lacks any kanji associated with it (to be fair, both Usagi and Makoto’s names are typically written only in hiragana as well), but it’s also written in katakana, the system usually reserved for foreign names. Considering that we can be pretty sure that Rei’s not foreign (especially when you consider that Grandfather Hino is about as Japanese as they come, running a Shinto shrine and all), that leads us to the interesting question of why Ms. Takeuchi would choose to write Rei’s name in this manner. So, why did she?

The Mysterious Miko and her Birds

The Mysterious Miko and her Birds

While Ms. Takeuchi has never officially commented on this issue, it’s most likely that her reason for choosing this style is precisely to draw attention to Rei’s name. You see, since Japanese lacks uppercase letters and it doesn’t look so good in bold or italics, one Japanese strategy to emphasize a word or text is by writing it in katakana. For example, this strategy is often employed in video games or manga when robots are speaking. It gives the reader a sense of unease and draws attention to the text, the same way an English writer may put something IN ALL CAPS.

How does this all play out for Rei? Well, it gives the reader an impressing that something just isn’t quite right about this priestess girl and a sense of mystery to her. It also leaves it up to the reader as to which kanji they want to attribute to Rei, depending on what they believe her personality is. Though Usagi and Makoto are written in hiragana, there’s really only one meaning possible for either of their names: rabbit and truth, respectively. Rei, on the other hand, has several prime choices, all of which could be read the same. For example:

  • 玲 = translucent, brilliant, clear 2
  • 麗 = beauty, lovely3
  • 霊 = spirit, soul, ghost4

So by writing the name in katakana, Ms. Takeuchi is in a way able to attribute all of these meanings to Rei, all without actually saying any one in particular.

As one final note, it’s worth mentioning that the Chinese adaptation didn’t have the luxury of spelling out names phonetically and actually did have to choose one of the above. The localization there went for 火野麗 (the second one above),5 though it seems there are several other characters used occasionally by fans. Who knew that how you write the name could mean so much!

What Was Sailor Moon’s Original Title?

The Original Cast of Pretty Soldier Sailor V

The Original Cast of Pretty Soldier Sailor V

One of the details that’s rarely discussed (which isn’t too surprisingly, since it’s not terribly well known) is that the official title of the series that we all know and love – Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon – wasn’t actually decided until the last minute. In fact, as of November 1991 (the material printed in the January 1992 issue seems to have been compiled at this time, as noted by the date written in the lower right of her sketch – November 5, 1991), Ms. Takeuchi and the editors at Nakayoshi magazine were still referring to the series as Pretty Soldier Sailor V.1 Fortunately, that’s not all there is to the secrets that can be found in this old back issue. In fact, there’s even an interview with Ms. Takeuchi in which she discusses some details about the series, some of which weren’t even actually used!

1992’s Super Heroine Appears!
“Pretty Soldier Sailor V” (Naoko Takeuchi)

“Code Name: Sailor V,” which has been massively popular in Nakayoshi‘s spin-off magazine RunRun, has powered up and will now be serialized in Nakayoshi magazine!! Thanks for your support!

Sailor Moon's Pre-Final Design

Sailor Moon’s Pre-Final Design

On page 48 of the January 1992 issue, you can see Sailor Moon’s working design, which differs both from her final design and even from the one which appears in the Sailor Moon Materials Collection artbook. In fact, if you look closely, both of the designs seem to differ slightly, so it looks like she had several designs being worked on at once.

Sailor Moon here is lacking her tiara and broach, but mysteriously has armor-style shoulder pads and even a crown in one of them. One of the designs appears far more reality-based, at least from the one image, due to the normal earrings and more simply school uniform (and not the normal body-forming Sailor Soldier uniform the team is famous for).

 

Several more interesting points can be found in the early-stage sketch of some of the main cast proposed by Ms. Takeuchi, which appear on page 292 of the same issue, in a monthly interview column titled “Nakayoshi Manga Newspaper.” In the picture (which can be seen at the top of this article), you can see the “mysterious cat” which was likely an early design for Luna (though it could be Artemis, it seems unlikely that she wouldn’t just use his name if it were), though it’s white and appears to be fluffy. We also have an “otaku boy” who appears to be Umino, the  “main character and ally of justice – Usagi,” in addition to the Mamoru-looking character on the right: “a nice guy who’s my type… could he be Usagi’s enemy?!” And the Rei-looking character in the middle of the group? Actually, that’s Ms. Takeuchi herself! It says: “I’ve recently gotten my hair straight-permed and started prettying myself up!”

The interview itself isn’t too interesting and doesn’t really give many details, but for those who are interested, here is a rough translation of the interview between the Nakayoshi editorial staff and Ms. Takeuchi:

Editor (Ed): What will the story be about?
Naoko (N): It’ll be a really cool story that’s totally outrageous, with some romance thrown in.

Ed: What’s the main character like?
N: “Usagi” is her name. She’s a crybaby, but she has a sweet and innocent personality.

Ed: It sounds like there’ll be “transforming” involved. When will she transform?
N: When “the Earth is in peril.”

Ed: What kind of enemies will she face?
N: Incredibly beautiful women and remarkably handsome young men… at least that’s what I’m thinking!

And there you have it! The first time that Usagi’s name was announced to the public… and some more of the background on the series before all the final details had even been decided! I’d really like to know more about what all this talk of “Sailor V powered up” was meant to imply, and if there were supposed to be any direct connections between Minako and Usagi. Hopefully one of these days more information will surface!

Why Was Mamoru Changed to a University Student in the Anime?

The Epitome of Maturity

The Epitome of Maturity

The question of why Mamoru was made older in the anime has been one of those questions that has really bothered me ever since I first learned that there were — sometimes significant — differences between the two mediums. First off, it doesn’t seem to really have much of an impact on the story itself since his parents are dead in both and him living alone doesn’t need to be explained and, if anything, it’s actually detrimental. As we discussed previously, Mamoru being a university student adds certain legal questions regarding Usagi and Mamoru dating. And this didn’t just stand out to western audiences, either. A Google search for タキシード仮面 ロリコン (takishiido kamen rorikon; Tuxedo Kamen lolita complex)1 yields over 30,000 hits of various blogs, polls, and sites with Japanese fans asking (or joking) about the same thing. Even fan books and magazines dating back to 1993 were asking the same questions.

So what did the anime producers gain by changing Mamoru from a second-year high school student to a (most probably) first year university student? Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any concrete answers to these questions and these are just personal musings, but taken together with the facts, these may have played a part in the decision to raise Mamoru’s age. So, let’s take a look!

Masked Rider

Masked Rider

Tuxedo Mask Needs a Ride

This is a pretty minor point, but when you consider that despite there really being no strong plot connection or reason for Mamoru to be driving, he appears quite often in either his car or on his motorcycle (an Alfa Romeo SZ and Bimota Tesi 1D, respectively)2 throughout the series. It also seems that someone on the Sailor Moon anime staff was a fan of automobiles, since not only were Mamoru’s based on real-life vehicles, but Usagi’s family car and Nephrite’s car are also based on real models.

Mamoru Doesn’t Have Any Friends

Okay, so it may be a bit harsh to say that he doesn’t have any friends, but… let’s face it — according to the manga, Mamoru really has no social life, friends, or even acquaintances. The only possible exception would be his underclassman, Ittou Asanuma,3 though they don’t really interact.

Motoki, being a character dating back to Code Name: Sailor V, was stuck being a university student (due to Sailor Moon necessarily taking place a year later) and couldn’t be aged down, so moving Mamoru up allowed them to be classmates and to imply something of a social life for Mamoru.

Family Time with the Sailor Team

Family Time with the Sailor Team

The Audience was Older

The most significant reason for making Mamoru older may have very well been the simplest: the show, unlike the manga, was typically watched together as a family, and with older audiences. I discussed before that the manga skewed to a younger audience, but didn’t mention the details on the anime. Throughout its run, Sailor Moon aired on TV Asahi from 7:00 to 7:30pm on Saturdays4 in what is known as the “golden time” (or primetime in the West)5, capturing on average 11.6% of viewers (and 16.3% at its peak) for the time block, which was comparable with its strongest competitors.

It may seem superficial, but from the point of view of older viewers (upper junior high school, high school, and even older), a high school boy doesn’t have the same mystery to him nor the dependability of an older (university) man who’s working various jobs and has money to spare. Mamoru may live in a fancy, upscale apartment in both versions, but he seems to spend that money much more freely in the anime, which may be part of his charm.

As mentioned at the top, everything written here is just personal observations and theories, but it’s an interesting step toward getting clearer understanding of how Mamoru differs in his various incarnations. One day, I really hope this question is posed to Ms. Takeuchi, but unfortunately with the onset of the new Sailor Moon Crystal, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

What is a Moonie Code?

Usagi Flaming Noobs on the Sailor Moon ML

Usagi Flaming Noobs on the Sailor Moon ML

This is something a little bit different from what I usually cover here, but I wanted to briefly stop and take a look at not just the world in which the characters of the Sailor Moon universe live, but also how the fans had developed their own culture to show their appreciation for the series. This isn’t something I will be doing all that often, but I think it’s definitely interesting to show how the Sailor Moon fandom has evolved into what we have today. So, without further ado, I bring you Moonie Codes!

mooniecode(1.12.05)
SM:5+ F:vM9+[+]Sf+:pSCl D:sNe-Ta-:vEs X:**[*]:a197s|1d:m17sO:?d+:s[+]:o:a[+]:h+[+]:x P:a24:s6:w:f[+]:eGrBGz:hBrD:t[-]:cWh:bB+:*Li:yH?:r+|-

For those of who looking at this mass of letters and numbers and who were neither regular internet users in the late 1990s or fans of Sailor Moon, this jumble of text looks like something between a corrupt file or an encryption key. Alas, this is the kind of insanity that hardcore fans used to put in their e-mail signatures, post on message boards, put on their homepages, or even sign guestbooks with to show their level of fandom. First created by the user Tolaris1 on July 15, 1997, the Moonie Code is a play off of the Geek Code2 and was created as a quick way for you to succinctly write all of your preferences, opinions, thoughts, and beliefs on Sailor Moon in one block of text.

Luna never was good at touch-typing...

Luna never was good at touch-typing…

How does it work?

Well, in the author’s own words:

The moonie code consists of a few sections. Each section starts with a capital letter and is used to describe a part of your amazing and unique personality.

Each section, as noted above, is marked by a capital letter and then followed by a colon to help mark it from the rest. Let’s take a look at a few examples and deconstruct it a bit!

SM:5+

Means that, on a scale of one to ten, you’re between a 5 and a 6 as a Sailor Moon fan.

F:vM9+[+]Sf+:pSCl

F is for your favorites, be it senshi, villian, supporting cast, or season. v is for villians, so the code above shows that the poster likes Mistress 9 quite a bit (the + sign) and liking her more and more (the additional [+] sign) as well as Saphir. The p is for your favorite season/act, and the author of this code likes S and Classic.

I’ll save you the boredom of analyzing each part in detail, but this should give you an idea for how a Moonie Code was put together.

Okay, but why?

Back in 1997, you could finish lunch before your e-mail loaded

Back in 1997, you could finish lunch before your e-mail loaded

For anyone who grew up with Gmail and nearly unlimited e-mail storage, high speed internet, web 2/3.0, and Facebook, this is a completely valid question. The early internet, however, was a completely different beast what what we have now with far more basic forms of communication and — more importantly — far fewer images (as a matter of necessity).

Message boards, where they existed, generally did not have user images and rarely did profiles contain any bios or detailed information. The primary form of communication between fans was over e-mail and “mailing lists,” on which all registered members receive a copy of each e-mail sent in the group. This is where things like these Moonie Codes would shine, since you could communicate through your signature your love for the series in each and every e-mail or message board post without having to tell the same story over and over again.

That’s nice, but what exactly is a Moonie?

You could probably pick up on this on your own, but it’s probably worth pointing out: a “Moonie” was one of the many names being tossed around for Sailor Moon fans in the US in the late 90s. Much like Trekker vs. Trekkie, though, there were many people who didn’t care for the term (and the Moonie Code even has a section allowing you to put that information in!).

So there you go, a brief primer on the Moonie Code, and a snapshot back in time on what the Sailor Moon fandom on the internet was like in the US back in the late 90s. In case you want to know more (or want to make your own Moonie Code), I’ve copied the original Moonie Code readme file here. Enjoy!