The Magnificent Mars Mantra!
While Sailor Moon definitely had its fair share of character stereotypes, I think that was actually one of the points where the series truly shined. Rather than just sticking with common tropes, it built upon them to make each of the characters into people that stood out on their own merits and that the readers/viewers could really relate to.
One such character, for me at least, is Rei — and especially the Rei that we see depicted in the anime. Though a haughty, strong-headed, and competitive 14 year old girl in her day-to-day life, she somehow manages to make this work with her spiritual side without ever feeling like either depiction of the character is shoehorned in.
Today, I’d like to take a moment to explore a little more of Rei’s spiritual side, and specifically about what some of her chants actually mean. If you happen to be an evil demon, you may want to skip this article. For the rest of you, read on!
Could This Be Rei’s Darkest Secret??
I know that I’ve talked a lot about Rei and the rather confusing situation going on with her Christian/Buddhist/Shinto beliefs, but the more you look into it, the more unclear the whole situation behind the Hikawa Shrine becomes. It’s that time again where we take another deep dive into Grandpa Hino’s questionable religious affiliations!
The Four Kings and Their Buddhist Counterparts
What many people don’t realize at first glance is that Ms. Takeuchi is not only a talented manga artist, but has an impressive background in the sciences. From joining the astronomy club in her high school days to majoring in chemistry (and later becoming a licensed pharmacist) in university, she had a very diverse base of information to draw upon when creating the Sailor Moon universe. The Four Kings (Shi Ten’Ou; 四天王) of the Dark Kingdom – Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, and Kunzite – are no different.
As with the names of each of the Sailor Soldiers (and many of the other characters in the series), the names of the Kings are no accident and have a deeper meaning behind them. Before we can get into the importance of their names themselves, though, we’ll need to first discuss where the concept of the “Four Kings” comes from in the first place. The “Four Heavenly Kings” comes from a Buddhist belief in four gods governing over each of the four cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West. Though the names of each of these kings (and the group themselves) differs by country, it should be safe to keep the scope of this conversation limited to its background in Japan due to this being where the series takes place.