Sailor Moon Fandom Survey Results

State of the Sailor Moon Fandom: 2020 Edition

State of the Sailor Moon Fandom: 2020 Edition

After having spent the past 23+ years as a semi-active member of the community, I like to think I have a fairly good finger on the pulse of the Sailor Moon fandom. But as we’ve learned countless times in the past, “gut instinct” tends to fall short of the actual facts.

To commemorate Tuxedo Unmasked‘s fifth anniversary,1 I figured now was as good a time as ever to poll the fans about their favorite characters, seasons, and version of the Sailor Moon franchise! 1,299 responses later and I think we’re in a place to start identifying some interesting trends.

If you’ve ever wondered who the most popular Senshi is in the English speaking world, how unloved Mamoru is, and how many people still prefer Scouts over Guardians, you’ve come to the right place! Today we’re going to dive deep into the fans that have kept Sailor Moon alive even when the franchise lay dormant.

I hope you're ready for a bunch of numbers... Usagi wasn't

I hope you’re ready for a bunch of numbers… Usagi wasn’t

As is often the case, we need to start off with a little bit of housekeeping before we dive into the numbers. After all, you’ll probably want to know where all this information came from, right?

Before we start making any assumptions, I do want to acknowledge one obvious caveat:

The responses could very well be influenced by the types of people who follow me on social media (Facebook & Twitter) and may not be representative of the larger fandom. People who are interested in Sailor Moon minutia may well have different opinions of the series.

Now with that out of the way, let’s crunch some numbers!

What is your preferred version of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon?

Favorite Version of Sailor Moon (click to enlarge)

Favorite Version of Sailor Moon (click to enlarge)

While I wasn’t surprised to see the 90s anime outpace all other versions (combined!) in terms of popularity, I was taken aback at just how underrepresented Sailor Moon Crystal was. I thought for a moment that this might just be a side effect of the fact that there are many more fans who got started with the 90s anime than Crystal, but even accounting for years in the fandom, Crystal still loses handily to its older anime sibling.

I suppose it makes sense when you consider that in a day of streaming and DVDs/Blurays, the old anime is just as accessible if not more so to people just now getting into the series.

What is your favorite season?

Favorite Sailor Moon Season (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Favorite Sailor Moon Season (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

If you were to ask me a month ago what the most popular Sailor Moon seasons were, I would have absolutely put the Black Moon arc in one of the top spots judging by the sheer amount of fanart (primarily Prince Demande and Black Lady) and merch alone. Much to my surprise, though, this is actually one of the least popular seasons among fans.

Of even more interest is how the relative popularity changes depending on if someone is a self-professed fan of the manga or anime. The first and third places are held firmly by S / Infinity and Sailor Stars respectively, but manga fans show a much stronger preference for SuperS / Dream (second place) over Classic / Dark Kingdom (fourth place). This makes sense when you consider that the Dream arc made a strong showing in the manga by telling a compelling story and bringing all the cast back for starring roles.

Read also:  Did Sailor Moon's Ikuhara Really Direct a Ninja Turtles Cartoon?

Things are a little different for anime fans, who rank Classic / Dark Kingdom as the second best season while Sailor Stars only barely edges out R / Black Moon by a few votes for third place. SuperS / Dream scores a paltry 10.8% of the votes from fans.

What is your favorite Sailor Moon form?

Favorite Sailor Moon Design (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Favorite Sailor Moon Design (by anime or manga; click to enlarge)

Once again, this is a question that took me completely by surprise. Perhaps it’s just my own personal bias, but I always thought the classic school uniform-inspired Sailor Moon design was the definitive design loved by all. Apparently I’m really not good at gauging these types of things.

Much to my surprise, Super Sailor Moon is the fan favorite design across both the anime and the manga. While the classic design scores a respectable second place among fans of the anime, it’s actually the least popular of all of Sailor Moon’s transformations among manga fans. As for Sailor Cosmos’ popularity — or lack thereof — in the anime, I think that’s a simple byproduct of the fact that the character never showed up in that version.

Choose your top 3 favorite Guardians

Favorite Senshi (Total; click to enlarge)

Favorite Senshi (Total; click to enlarge)

Disclaimer: I omitted Mamoru, the Three Lights, Chibi Chibi, and Princess Kakyuu because they scored low consistently and for the sake of brevity.

There are a few things that really stood out to me here and took me by surprise. First off, I had no idea that Makoto of all people was the most popular Inner Senshi and that the supposed fan favorite Ami did so badly.

Worse still is just how poorly ChibiUsa ranks — only barely outperforming Mamoru by a measly four votes. I thought this might be a byproduct of the way Rini was handled in the old DiC dub and some residual 90s fan hate, but her low rank held through regardless of when the person first became a fan of Sailor Moon.

Another thing that I found incredibly surprising was the fact that Setsuna performs about as well as Haruka and Michiru. For being the forgotten Senshi that frequently gets the short-end of the staff, I’m impressed at just how much love she gets from the fans!

Even more interesting, though, is how closely intertwined season and character preferences are.

Favorite Senshi (by season; click to enlarge)

Favorite Senshi (by season; click to enlarge)

Disclaimer: Usagi was removed for the sake of simplicity since she ranked first in all seasons. The first bar on the left represents Mamoru for Dark Kingdom ~ Dream and Seiya for Sailor Stars.

I apologize for the somewhat messy chart here — there’s a lot to see and it’s a bit hard to get it all in one place where you can easily compare the data. But what I wanted to draw attention to is just how much of an impact a respondent’s favorite season had on their favorite character.3

For example, the Inner Senshi fill out the top spots for fans of the Dark Kingdom arc while Setsuna enters the top three for fans of Black Moon. Hotaru — who always performs well — really shines along with Haruka and Michiru among Infinity fans, and those who prefer the Dream arc finally give ChibiUsa to love she’s been longing for. Lastly, I found it interesting that Seiya takes second place only to Hotaru among fans of Sailor Stars, which is far better than Mamoru ever did in any of the seasons he appeared in.

Read also:  What Was Sailor Moon's Archery Attack?

What year did you first become interested in Sailor Moon?

Year you joined the Sailor Moon fandom (click to enlarge)

Year you joined the Sailor Moon fandom (click to enlarge)

This question isn’t terribly interesting on its own, but I wanted to include it 1) as a substitute for age (which isn’t necessarily important); and 2) to get a sense for how opinions on the series might have changed depending on when you joined the fandom. For example, do people who got into Sailor Moon more recently have more favorable opinions of Crystal than long-time fans?4 Do long-time fans have different character preferences?5

But the real reason I asked that question was so I could check it against the final one…

What do you call the “Senshi” in English?

Translation of "Senshi" (separated by years as a fan; click to enlarge)

Translation of “Senshi” (separated by years as a fan; click to enlarge)

Though the reason behind me asking this question was to see what era of fans started to adopt the 2003-era Guardian translation, I was also surprised to see how many of the fans who grew up with the Scout moniker still prefer it, even though the translation hasn’t been used for Senshi in about 15 years now. In fact, I’m curious as to why newer fans — those who have joined the fandom after the original Sailor Moon dub was off the air and the new Kodansha translation was out — would even be using the “Scout” term at all. But that’s probably due to a lot of the old information still out there online.

My work here is done

My work here is done

I’ve spent hours poring over these spreadsheets and I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface here with some of the observations that we can take away from it. For example, the connections between character preferences (e.g., Seiya fans tend to also be fans of Haruka and Makoto while Hotaru fans tend to lean toward Setsuna and Minako). Whether series preferences (anime, manga, crystal, etc.) impacts character preferences like it does with the individual seasons, and more. For the sake of brevity, though, I think we’ll call it here.

So what do you think of the results? Do these pretty much match with your observations of the Sailor Moon fandom (be it fanfiction, social media, or other interactions), or does your experience differ with what you’ve seen here? I’d be especially interested in hearing from around the world!

Last but not least, thanks to all of you who have joined me on this five year journey at Tuxedo Unmasked! Let’s keep it going!

Support Tuxedo Unmasked on Patreon!


References:

  1. Tuxedo Unmasked went live on November 1, 2015, though I started work on the topics posted here several months in advance
  2. Technically I received 1,299 — so close to a solid 1,300! — but three were obvious spam with insults written in it.
  3. Or the other way around, if you’d prefer.
  4. Not really. The preferences for the 90s anime and manga seem to have no connection to when you joined the fandom.
  5. Slightly; Makoto tends to score higher than Minako among long-time fans.

25 thoughts on “Sailor Moon Fandom Survey Results

  1. This is so interesting! Especially how Hotaru is so popular despite being in only 2 seasons of the 90s anime. I’ve been active on the sailor moon editing community on instagram for a few months now (@venusxaino) and I really see so many Hotaru, Usagi and Makoto fan accounts in comparison to Ami and Chibiusa fan accounts. Also the term senshi is generally used by people from 12 to 19 while scouts is being used by people born in the 90s just like shown on this survey. By the way I saw an account named @tuxedo_unmasked on instagram with like 700 followers. Is that you?
    ~Inge

    • Huh, that’s interesting to see these preferences also play out in fan works too! I wonder what the results would be if you looked at DeviantArt or AO3 for fanfiction characters.

      As for Instagram, nope, I’m not on there. Must be some other person who hopefully isn’t pretending to be me. =D

  2. Fascinating stuff! Though given how I’m on a few Sailor Moon fansites and Discords, I find many of these unsurprising. There is a MAJOR fan-hate against “SuperS” in particular (no shocker it’s still the most hated one), many still don’t like ChibiUsa, and Sailor Jupiter is incredibly beloved by female fans in particular.

    I think Jupiter being such a contrast of masculine strength and feminine vulnerability is like candy to girls who love the show- in many ways, she’s the most “Westerner-friendly” character as a result. Rei’s “Mean Girl” stuff reminds girls way too much of the bullies they used to encounter, by contrast. And Ami typically bores a lot of modern fans. Just TOO nice and flawless.

  3. I missed participating the poll! It’s my fault the results are so inaccurate… I refuse to believe that over 10% of people put SuperS as their favorite season, and less than 5% more put the best season (R) as their favorite. I fully understand anyone who puts S and the first season ahead because they were incredible as well… but Stars is ahead of R? It’s hard to understand… I can only guess people disliked the Makaiju section and felt it tarnished the incredible Black Moon arc.

    Manga results make sense, the excellent SuperS/Dream arc got the respect it deserves. I’d even put it ahead of S/Infinity. I still think it’s weird that the best manga arc made the worst show season.

    Chibiusa as the least popular… I still blame the DiC dub for that. She’s one of the best. Then again, I didn’t pick her as my favorite either… maybe she’s 2nd or 3rd on everyone’s list, but nobody places her 1st? I’m another Makoto fan… she’s just plain nice, she’s considerate, she can cook, and also happens to be great at sports and is the strongest inner senshi besides Usagi. All of the characters are wonderful and likeable… Usagi and Minako are fun but dramatic, Ami and Rei are caring and considerate but a bit uptight perhaps? Makoto is just a great all around person with a relaxed attitude… most of the time. And cooking skills can’t be overlooked!

    As for Sailor Scouts… it’s just catchy, it sounds good. I go with Senshi just because none of the translations are quite right, Soldier is the closest but it sounds so military related in English. A word like Warrior fits… but no alliteration harms it. I give a big fat BOO to “Guardian”, I don’t care if Naoko herself chose it, even if the definition does make sense. It was soldier/senshi (or scout) for 20 years, no changing it after all that time!

    I’d be interested in seeing more polls, especially on more specific topics. I’ll make sure not to miss it next time!

    • I’m wondering if part of the ChibiUsa issue just comes up as a legacy part of the Sailor Moon fan culture, similarly to how “Scout” still hangs in there. New fans may not have the same baggage (DiC, etc.) but they still interact with long-term fans and read old online content. So in the end, they’re still exposed to all the self-reinforcing hatred of ChibiUsa and other things that have become deeply ingrained in the Sailor Moon fandom.

  4. Poor Ami, she’s one of my favorites, but her design and powers tend to be underwhelming compared to the others.
    Personally, the 90’s version of Shine Aqua Illusion is one of my all-time favorite anime attacks.

    I used to prefer Sailor Moon’s base form, but in the past few years I’ve come to really like her Super Form.

    • I’m also surprised to see Rei do so poorly — I always felt like she was one of the more popular characters in the late 90s and early 2000s. Maybe I’m just remembering wrong?

      • She was hated on a lot because of how harsh she is with Sailor Moon many fans don’t see past it and realize she’s one of the ones that absolutely loves Usagi enough to give up her life for her but out of the other 4 I always felt she was the closest to Usagi is why I shipped them together since I was 10 years old

  5. I’m not surprised Chibiusa ranked so badly she’s been hated on since I joined the fandom in 1995 well 1999 was when I really saw opinions online but she’s always been hated on and still is hated on today and you have no idea how much that hurts me even today. Even a Anime store I went to that hated her everyone hates chibiusa instead of understanding she’s just a little girl lost and scared in the past and stile the Crystal cause she wanted to be just like her mom also in Crystal/Manga we know it was due to bullying like give her a break! But no cause she’s actually 900 years old everyone says fuck you Chibiusa. I’m so fucking sick of it lets not forget she went after Mamuro so they hate that too and I’m surprised she did well in the dream arc considering so many people hate it because A she falls in love with Pegasus a manifestation of Helios spirit and the 90s because the Outers are not in it.

    • I always had written the ChibiUsa hate off as a side effect of how poorly the DiC dub handled her character in the west, but the fact that even new fans (who likely were never exposed to the DiC dub) are still so disinterested in her seems really strange. I wonder if it’s just something about the character’s portrayal and western values, maybe? Kind of like the Scrappy Doo syndrome…

      Either way, it’s definitely bizarre!

      • Not even Western I know friends from Japan they also hate her they say is because she’s 900 years old meaning she’s an adult acting like a brat and not you know a child. Also her going after Mamuro kinda fucked it up more. And people hate her more now that they know she pulled a gun at Usagi everyone hates she did that to her mother even though Usagi and her from the past are more like sisters. The 900 year old crap fucks with it and her personality is not liked sadly. Trust me it hurts me no one can see she’s just a child and that her Usagi from the past are like sisters and not mother and daughter.

        • Even back in the 90s they had serious issues with young fans in Japan disliking ChibiUsa due to her behavior in R, but I always figured that they sorted that out across S and SuperS.
          Basically the creators thought it’d be funny to create an antagonistic relationship between mother and daughter, but fans just saw it as their favorite character (Usagi) constantly being harassed by an annoying little kid. It was really a poor call when writing the season.

    • I never hated Chibi-Usa, even though I preferred other characters. I do think the hate she gets chiefly stems from R which I feel is really unwarranted given the context to her character in that season. My hot take is that R Chibi-Usa was when she was best handled because they balanced out her ‘annoying little sister’ dynamic with usagi with moments of tenderness

  6. Being a German fan who got into Sailor Moon in 1998 but never saw the English dubs, my picks may have led to some distortions in the results, haha! I agree that the dub has a great influence, though. My character preferences depend heavily on the voice actors. I suppose I may have liked Rei, Minako, Michiru or even Chibiusa more if I liked their German voices more. I liked Makoto’s and Haruka’s German voices very much and I guess that’s part of the reason why they are my favorites (next to Seiya).
    I picked sailor senshi over sailor scouts, guardians or soldiers because it’s the original, and I usually don’t refer to the senshi in English at all. The German translation was Sailorkriegerinnen IIRC, which means sailor warriors.
    I’d love to see the connections between character preferences and whether series preferences impacts character preferences like it does with the individual seasons etc. It would be great if you made a survey result part 2 some time.

  7. I wonder if R’s poor performance in the ‘favorite season’ question truly indicates that it is the least popular, as such. I think very many of those who chose Classic or S as their favorite season would pick R as their second or third favorite.

    R would probably perform much better in a ranked poll, where the top three seasons are awarded ‘standings points’. SuperS might then perform even worse – it seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it season.

  8. I think Jupiter is popular with American fans because of her reputation as an uncomplicated “cinnamon roll” personality. She’s sort of just the ideal friend. People seem to also like that she represents both toughness and physical strength as well as being a hopeless romantic. It’s refreshing to see feminine characters that embrace both sides of themselves like that. Jupiter was always my favorite growing up, but she never seemed that popular to me… now she is.

    Interestingly, I have seen some Japanese Youtube comments about her that essentially say, “I’ve come to appreciate Makoto now that I’m older because she is a ‘Gap Moe’ character” (I think this is a newer term. These types of characters always existed, but since the term was coined, these types of characters have become more popular and recognized now.)

  9. I can explain some of the dislike (not necessarily “hate”) for Chibi-Usa from my end, at least. I’ll admit I kind of did hate on her when watching the DiC dub, but I felt sorry for her toward the end and got over it. But it wasn’t just SMR that she stole the spotlight in. Pretty much the majority of the series went from “Sailor Moon” to “The Chibi-Usa Show” after her introduction.

    R introduces her and tells her story. She spends a lot of time being and unsympathetic little brat until you know the whole thing, though. Sailor Pluto, an arguably much more interesting character, is barely developed in the 90s anime, and in the manga, she essentially serves as a plot device/tragic sacrifice to help Chibi-Usa awaken as Sailor Chibi-Moon. But either way, Crystal Tokyo gets saved and we get a little glimpse of the future. Not too bad. Then comes S.

    Chibi-Usa has a little less focus here, but her friendship with Hotaru is central to the plot. And in the anime, which is already pretty filleriffic with the monsters of the day being sillier than ever, makes Chibi-Usa into sort of an irritating comic relief character. It was amusing a couple of times to watch “Pink Sugar Heart Attack” be little more than a useless annoyance to the villains, much less so after the next dozen times. Chibi-Usa is basically a little pink clone of mom at this point, and not a very interesting one at that.

    And then comes SuperS, and yes, it’s my least favorite season. I’ll admit that I’m a biased Outer Senshi + Hotaru fan, so their loss was a blow, but almost nothing else in this season (for the anime) really appeals to me either. Fish-Eye was probably the most interesting thing, but he can’t carry the season himself.

    But here’s where Chibi-Usa firmly steals the spotlight and the show suffers for it. Do I think trading her creepy fixation on her future dad for a boy trapped in the form of a pegasus was an improvement? No, in fact, it nearly put me off the show altogether (that scene where he blushes while she has her shirt off still grosses me out), in fact, I never did finish the whole thing. Evil circuses are overdone and bore me and most of the villains seemed rather sub-par. And they try so hard to make Chibi-Usa so much more mature than Usagi that they literally infantilize her. Tuxedo Kamen is also at his most boring and useless here (no offense) and the anime stole his Golden Crystal and gave it to Pegasus for no apparent reason. I could go on, but I’m trying to focus on the Chibi-Usa stuff. At least the Dream Arc for the manga was pretty decent, but I’d argue it was still a fairly weak plot overall compared to the other ones.

    Then comes Stars, and Chibi-Usa is (finally) back off to the future (again). The Outer Senshi + Saturn return (anime) and things sort of look interesting again. But by then I knew more about the manga and disliked some of the changes being made (the controversy with the Starlights changing gender, which I’m almost positive was done mainly for the Usagi x Seiya ship tease, which I didn’t care for, a watered-down plot overall, Haruka and Michiru’s “betrayal”, lack of Sailor Cosmos), so I skimmed through the majority of the season and read the manga instead. Chibi-Usa has much less presence here than when she was first introduced, but she’s the last one standing (along with her Sailor Quartet) once Guardian Cosmos comes along to explain what happened and reboot the universe. But manga Chibi-Usa has always been less annoying, and for once, she didn’t seem to take over too much of the story.

    So of the four seasons/arcs where she appears (I’ll leave out the movies & specials for now), Chibi-Usa is kind of an annoying spotlight-hog for two of them and slightly less annoying comic relief character (that’s somehow still essential to the plot) for another. It takes until the end of the series for her to get toned down, but in the anime, that just amounts to basically being shoved out of the picture almost entirely (along with Mamoru).

    She has a weird fixation on her dad, and a weird relationship with both parents’ past selves, really. Seeing her and Usagi fighting all the time “like sisters” was actually even more annoying than Usagi and Rei’s childish bickering in the anime, and it felt like they had to try to tear Usagi down to prop Chibi-Usa up. Her powers are laughably useless in the anime (at first), then she’s basically just a pink version of mom. She gets her own Sailor Team in the manga, but it’s puzzling what that means for the future. She easily befriends the dark and melancholy ladies (Setsuna and Hotaru) in the group, but instead of helping develop their characters, it somehow seems to shove them even more into the background. I guess that’s my biggest complaint. Sailor Moon, and to a lesser extent, the Inner Senshi, get most of the spotlight as it is, then Chibi-Usa comes along and takes even more of it, and a lot of the other characters get less screentime and development for it.

    I didn’t mean for this to turn into a huge gripe, but there you have it. I don’t hate Chibi-Usa, I just wish there had been a lot less of her. And more development for the characters I feel got shorted. Ultimately, even the Inners could have had more to do as individuals rather than a group that gets taken down by the villains like clockwork in order to give Sailor Moon (and her pink clone) yet another opportunity to save the day, but I guess that’s a complaint against the more formulaic aspect of weekly storytelling.

    Thanks for reading.

    • I totally agree with all the reasons you mentioned, though my dislike of her is stronger. While binge-watching Crystal recently, by the time we hit season 3, my fiance (who had no exposure to the show or manga previously and was only watching passively) groaned any time she was in a scene. She is by far the most grating character in the show and she should have only stayed around for 2 seasons *tops*.

  10. The official results were held in Japan and I have to say, it’s pretty surprising!
    Especially considering there’s no Taiki or Sailor Star Maker! What kind of world do we live in?! 😉

    1. Sailor Uranus
    2. Sailor Moon
    3. Haruka Tenoh
    4. Minako Aino
    5. Kou Seiya
    6. Michiru Kaioh
    7. Sailor Saturn
    8. Makoto Kino
    9. Ami Mizuno
    10. Sailor Mercury
    11. Fish Eye
    12. Sailor Venus
    13. Princess Serenity
    14. Sailor Neptune
    15. Usagi Tsukino
    16. Sailor Mars
    17. Hotaru Tomoe
    18. Luna (Human form)
    19. Black Lady
    20. Sailor Jupiter
    21. Rei Hino
    22. Sailor Pluto
    23. Chibi Usa
    24. Prince Demande (Black Moon)
    25. Sailor Chibi Moon
    26. Mamoru Chiba
    27. Tuxedo Mask
    28. Kou Yaten
    29. Nephrite
    30. Luna (Cat form)
    31. Sailor V
    32. Zoisite (Dark Kingdom)
    33. Helios
    34. Neo Queen Serenity
    35. Sailor Star Fighter
    36. Sappir (Black Moon)
    37. Naru Osaka
    38. Sailor Star Healer
    39. Koan (Black Moon)
    40. Eudial (Death Busters)
    41. Small Lady Serenity
    42. Prince Endymion
    43. Palla-Palla (Dead Moon)
    44. Kunzite (Dark Kingdom)
    45. Berthier (Dark Moon)
    46. Tiger’s Eye (Dead Moon))
    47. Artemis
    48. Setsuna Meioh
    49. Mistress 9 (Death Busters)
    50. Sailor Galaxia (Shadow Galactica)

    • One thing I really don’t like about the NHK (and 90s Nakayoshi) poll is that the Senshi and ‘human’ versions of each character are ranked separately. 1 and 3 are the same person (Haruka), 9 and 10 are the same person (Ami)… it all seems so absurd and makes things really messy. Had they combined the numbers, Ami would almost certainly beat out Makoto…

      Just a pet peeve. =p When I did my manga popularity polls based on the Nakayoshi results, I combined every version of the same character into one.

      • I agree. I was just telling someone else that over on Sailor Moon News.
        I can see splitting Chibi Usa and Black Lady into two separate characters, but why split Chibi Usa, Small Lady, and Chibi Moon into three more separate entries?

        It really seemed redundant and made the listless exciting for me, since we had at least 20 duplicates on a list of 50.

      • Yeah, that makes no sense. It’s not like their personalities are that different between their identities. If it’s an evil version, like Mistress 9 or something, that makes sense, but Haruka/Uranus? Maybe Usagi/Neo Queen Serenity, but the others are unnecessary.

  11. Maybe the number of people who have watched the Sailor Moon Crystal series, PGSM, or Sera Myu is also fewer, so they are not as popular as could be expected.

    As for Chibi-Usa, I thought she was more likeable in the manga than the anime, so she probably could be better liked if the manga Chibi-Usa and anime Chibi-Usa were not combined into one character. Her character popularity ranking in the serialization was usually high, wasn’t it? That could be only for some arcs, perhaps.

    This was an interesting article, in any case!

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