Why Did the Outer Senshi Use Lipstick in Their Transformations?

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

This is yet another one of those questions that I’ve been wondering about for a long time that could either be something as simple as a design choice made up by either the animation staff or Ms. Takeuchi herself, or might actually have some sort of deeper meaning behind it. After all, the staff behind the Sailor Moon anime didn’t hesitate to make some pretty far-reaching, if arbitrary, decisions to alter characters personalities. However, for the most part, most of their changes were for the sake of adding in additional meaning to the anime as references for astute fans.

So why is it that, while every one of the Sailor Soldiers either has their nails painted during their transformation (or showcases their painted nails during when transforming into their Super forms), the adding of lipstick is a characteristic unique to the Outer Sailor Soldiers. Making things all the more interesting is that Sailor Saturn is excluded from this quirk, and her transformation clearly showcases her magical manicure.

Sailor Moon's Magical Manicure

Sailor Moon’s Magical Manicure

As best as I can determine, this design choice was most likely made in consideration of the target audience of the anime, and what is actually considered “adult” to them. After having watched, read, and played Sailor Moon in its myriad of forms, it’s easy to forget that the magical items they use are real-world items and that their “Make Up” transformation phrase is not only a nifty thing to shout, but also directly references the transformations these young girls are making into sailor-suited heroines. And in this case, it also is referencing real-world make-up.

According to a 2014 web survey conducted by My Navi Woman1 on women’s age when they first wore lipstick, the number one response was 18 years old, at 20.3%. Though the second most common response, 12 or younger, was at 19.8%, this actually is in the minority when you calculate the rest of the ages together. Taken as a whole, >60% of women responded that they were either 16 years or older when they first used lipstick. The same age range, incidentally, as Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna.

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

But for those numbers to be meaningful, we need to know about Japanese manicure trends. Fortunately, Benesse did a survey in 20112 with Japanese parents on just that. As early as 6 years old, 44.1% and 26.5% of girls were reported to being either interested in or actually painting their nails, respectively. Though the painting of nails is still forbidden in the vast majority of Japanese schools – even through high school! – it nicely highlights the point on what kind of makeup girls Usagi’s age and younger have in mind.

While this is by no means any sort of definitive proof of why the three talisman-bearing Sailor Soldiers all have lipstick applied when they transform, I think it does at least give an interesting insight into Japanese attitudes toward makeup which may differ from those in the West.

If I were to wager a guess, I would say that the point in doing it this way was to highlight the age difference between the new and mysterious Sailor Soldiers being introduced in the Death Busters Arc and to give them an added sense of maturity. It also explains why Hotaru goes along with the others in just having her nails painted. What do you think about all this? Do you think there was any sort of deeper meaning behind it, or just a stylistic choice of the animators?

What Do the Colors on Sailor Moon’s Brooch Mean?

Sailor Moon's Transformation Brooch

Sailor Moon’s Transformation Brooch

I’d like to thank a reader for sending this in because, I have to admit, that it the colors used in Sailor Moon’s brooch were just so natural that I never bothered to question it. But when you stop and take a look, you can’t help but wonder if there’s any method to the madness, any sort of order behind how Ms. Takeuchi arranged the colors as why. More specifically, the question posed is as follows:

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What is the Inspiration for the Spiral Heart Moon Rod?

The Spiral Heart Moon Rod

The Spiral Heart Moon Rod

Throughout her time as a sailor-suited soldier of love and justice, dedicating her days to boring school work and evenings to punishing evil in the name of the moon, Sailor Moon has gone through quite a few different magical items and all manners of attacks. While I’m personally a fan of the traditional Moon Stick, which I think we can all agree has a pretty lackluster name, the inspiration behind the Spiral Heart Moon Rod is fascinating in its own right.

What makes the Spiral Heart Moon Rod so interesting is that its design, like the designs of other important items in the Sailor Moon canon, appears to be based on a real rod – a scepter1 – in the possession of the British Royal Family. Specifically, I’m referring to the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross,2 part of the coronation regalia of the British monarchy.

The Sovereign's Scepter with Cross and Spiral Heart Moon Rod

The Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross and Spiral Heart Moon Rod

In addition to the remarkable similarities in their general appearance, which is pretty convincing in its own, it’s also noteworthy that the Sovereign’s Scepter contains within it Cullinan I,3 the clearest cut diamond in the world – not too dissimilar from the legendary Silver Crystal itself! The curving lines reminiscent of a heart, the crown design on top, and the crystal embedded within all make this a pretty convincing basis for the design.

Cullinan I

Cullinan I

Taking into consideration that the talismans were also based on Western designs, it seems pretty fitting to me that Ms. Takeuchi would choose such a famous item from the crown jewels to use as the basis for her design. It also ties in nicely with her role as heir to the Silver Millennium and the future Neo-Queen of Crystal Tokyo.

Since we know that Ms. Takeuchi incredibly well-informed and clearly did a lot of research into various crystals, I think it would definitely be worthwhile to take a closer look at some of the broaches throughout the seasons, or maybe some of the other various sticks, wands, and scepters wielded by Sailor Moon. Just seeing something real that looks so similar really gives you a sense for just how impressive her attacks must have looked to the enemies she faces.

But what about you? What was your favorite of her weapons, and why? I’ve always loved the simplicity of the Moon Stick and how it even evolved once the Silver Crystal was added to it, but that’s just me. I’d love to hear other people’s opinions!

What’s So Super About Super Sailor Moon?

Transforming Into Super Sailor Moon

Transforming Into Super Sailor Moon

Depending on how you take it, this question could either be existential, painfully obvious, a bizarre linguistics mystery, or an interesting mix of all three. Just to be clear, we’re not actually discussing the relative power of Sailor Moon’s attacks or why the series is called Sailor Moon in the first place, but rather what was the reason for having her powered up form being called “Super Sailor Moon.” Couldn’t she just power up without needing a new name?

She's not just good, she's super!

She’s not just good, she’s super!

Well, as with a lot of things in Japanese media, answering this question requires us to take a look back at the social and historical context that the Sailor Moon series was created in. As original and unique as the series is, and as much work as Ms. Takeuchi put in to make such a rich and diverse world for her characters to live within, the series was still greatly impacted by the pop culture of the country it was founded in.

You see, throughout the mid- to late-1980s and into the 1990s, Japan had something of a love affair with the word “super,” not much unlike how “x-treme” (and various variations thereon) became synonymous with sports, soft drinks, and pretty much any product or TV show marketed to anyone under the age of 30 in the US from the late 1990s and early 2000s.1 Japan’s (…bubble) economy was going strong,2 and the word “super” seems to have been picked up by marketers to show how their product was new and improved.

The most obvious example that you’re probably all aware of is the upgrade from the Famicom/Nintendo to the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo, but this goes back much earlier. Following the Nintendo connection, the sequel/upgrade to the smash hit “Mario Bros.” was “Super Mario Bros.”3 But as we’re about to see, characters being “leveled up” so-to-speak isn’t the only way that the word super had infected Japanese culture.

1988 Commercial for Asahi Super Dry

1988 Commercial for Asahi Super Dry

In 1987 the Asahi Beer company, wanting to expand their business from a paltry 10% of the Japanese beer market, launched the Asahi Super Dry product line. This sparked off what is known as the “Dry Wars” among Japanese beer producers,4 who were all trying to capture the budding dry beer5 market.

Other noteworthy examples include the Super Saiyan form6 in Dragon Ball Z in 1991, the Super-VHS video standard7 introduced in 1987, and the proposed upgrade to the floppy disk – the so-called SuperDisk8 – in 1997. Taking a look at anime titles alone, you can see the trend pretty clearly:9

So what does this all mean, then? Essentially what this means is that during this particular time in Japan, the word “super” was a popular marketing buzz word used to convey to the audience that this was a new, upgrade, improved version of a previous product. That’s not to say that the concept didn’t exist in the west – Superman predates this marketing buzz in Japan by nearly half a century. But what’s interesting about all this is that, taken as a whole, what Ms. Takeuchi was trying to emphasizing by powering Usagi (and, later, the rest of the Sailor Soldiers) up into her Super form.

A Survivor of the Dry Wars

A Survivor of the Dry Wars

Taking into consideration how deeply this was all affected by the words, language, and other series and products out at the time, it makes me wonder what the upgraded form of Sailor Moon would’ve been called if the series came out today? Mega like in Pokémon?10 Though I’m a fan of the Super and Eternal forms, I’d love to know how things would’ve changed if the series had been made today!

[Sailor Games] Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (Super Famicom)

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon for the Super Famicom (1993)

Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon for the Super Famicom (1993)

After the amazing success of the Sailor Moon game for the Game Boy, developer Angel went immediately back to the drawing board to make their next game – this time for the then-leading powerhouse, the Super Famicom. Released on August 27, 1993, the game came out while the Sailor Moon R anime was airing on TV, but considering the lead time necessary to develop a game like this, it seems to have been based entirely on the Classic season of the anime. So without further ado, let’s take a look and see what Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon has to offer!

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Why Did Mimete Call Eudial a Snail Lady?

Eudial and Her Snail-y Demise

Eudial and Her Snail-y Demise

At first glance, it doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy that Mimete would refer to Eudial at a “Snail Lady” since there are several scenes in the anime where Mimete uses them to harass her. But when you stop and think about it – as I’m wont to do with incredibly tiny details about anime – it doesn’t really make any sense why Mimete would call Eudial something that she so clearly dislikes. I mean, you don’t refer to someone with acrophobia1 as “Ms. Tall Places” or someone someone with an extreme dislike for legumes as “Mr. Bean,” right?2 So if that isn’t the reason, what is the connection between Eudial and snails?

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What Does Nephrite’s Cursed Symbol Mean?

The Target is Chosen

The Target is Chosen

One of the interesting things about the Classic season of the Sailor Moon anime is that each of the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom not only had their own unique objectives, but they also had their own youma and their own ways of trying to achieve their goals. While Jadeite may have decided to get energy en masse, for example, Nephrite chose to get energy from a person when they were at their peak. But there’s one thing that I always wondered about many years ago when I watched Nephrite put his mark on his future victims: does that mark actually have any sort of meaning behind it?

The answer to this question is unfortunately, like is often the case when discussing the world of Sailor Moon, both yes and no. While the producers behind the anime were no strangers to adding in obscure hidden references into the background of scenes or playing games with character names, the answer to this question is rather straightforward – if you know where to look for the answer.

The Curse of Nephrite

The Curse of Nephrite

Since we see Nephrite use this symbol in multiple episodes when he puts his mark on a possession important to each of his victims, we can pretty definitively state what the proper orientation is (i.e., which way is up and, thus, how it should be interpreted). When you look closely at it, you can see that this symbol is really nothing more than a stylized form of the katakana used to spell out his name in Japanese – more specifically, the ネ (ne) in ネフライト (nefuraito).

But that’s no good reason to get disappointed, not yet at least! First, we need a brief history lesson.1

Hiragana and katakana,2 the two Japanese syllabic alphabets, developed from evolutions – simplifications, really – of kanji, which had been previously used in the form of man’yogana3 wherein kanji was read not for its symbolic meaning, but was used to phonetically spell out Japanese words. This was obviously not ideal for several reasons:

  1. Very little consistency between authors over which kanji was used to represent which sound (i.e., there are dozens of kanji that can be pronounced ne, so which do you use?)
  2. Kanji is time-consuming to write and requires more finesse for fine lines
  3. It was unclear when a kanji should be read for pronunciation and when it should be read for meaning (a proper noun, for example)

The katakana symbol ネ (ne) comes from a simplification of the kanji 祢 (ne),4 more specifically, the left radical of that kanji. When you take a look at how the kanji is simplified when writing in one of the various cursive styles of Japanese calligraphy, you can see the similarities with Nephrite’s mark.

Japanese Cursive Styles

Japanese Cursive Styles

You can see that as the kanji is written in more stylistic manners, the left radical bears a strong resemblance to the mark that Nephrite leaves on all of his victims. It looks like what we have here is a case of the anime producers actually looking back to the past in order to create something new and unique. I told you this wasn’t a complete disappointment!

Now if only someone could explain to me why it would be okay for Nephrite and Naru to date, like the trouble with Usagi and Mamoru in the anime, I think all of my questions would be answered.