5 of the Greatest Unsolved Sailor Moon Mysteries

Perhaps you may be able to help solve a (Sailor Moon) mystery

Perhaps you may be able to help solve a (Sailor Moon) mystery

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a firm believer that you can answer — or at least come up with a sufficient explanation — almost any question as long as you have the right data to work with. Be it information provided in the anime/manga, from official interviews, or even offhand comments made by characters, there are a lot of Sailor Moon mysteries that you can put to bed if you can just find the right angle to approach them from.

Alas, much like the hunt for the great Loch Ness monster, there are still some that simply defy all explanation. Whether you want to call them plot holes, oversights, or mere story omissions, the series hasn’t really left us with anything to work with to bring us any closer to solving these annoying questions.

Join me, dear readers, on a look at some of Sailor Moon‘s greatest unsolved mysteries. As the great, late Robert Stack would put it, “perhaps you may be able to help solve a mystery.”

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What Was the Inspiration for the Dark Kingdom’s Uniforms?

Don't even get me started on the Nephrite color-changing issue...

Don’t even get me started on the Nephrite color-changing issue…

Since I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the importance of school uniforms and their relevance to the series, I think it’s about time that we give some attention to what the men of Sailor Moon are wearing. And that’s what I fully intend to do.

Tuxedo Mask… wears a tuxedo. And a mask. Done.

Now that we’ve got that mystery solved, I’d like to turn your attention to something you’ve probably thought a lot less about: just where did the inspiration for the uniform’s worn by the Dark Kingdom come from? Were they completely made up, or did Ms. Takeuchi take her inspiration from the uniform of some long-forgotten army?

If this is a question that ever has crossed your mind, you’re in luck, because we’re going to take a closer look at exactly that today. It’s time to put on your sleuthing hat, because things are about to get interesting!

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How Different Were the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom in the Anime and Manga?

You can't deny the Four Kings are cute

You can’t deny the Four Kings are cute

“Is this another topic on the differences between the anime and manga,” I can hear you groaning. But before you give up in search of something else to read, hang in there – how the characters of the Shitennou, the “Four Kings,” differed between the anime and manga, and especially the differences in Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship, is actually pretty interesting!

Or… at least it is to me. Your results may vary.

But in any case, today I’m going to take a look in how the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom changed. Wanna come along?

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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.

What Book Was Mamoru / Endo Reading When He Was Possessed?

Endo's Book

Endo’s Book

I’ve mentioned it many times before, but it always amazes me just how detailed Ms. Takeuchi is in bringing to life the characters (and world) of Sailor Moon. You can really tell that she researches all the names, places, and characters and even puts in a lot of fun finishing touches here and there that leave a lot of fodder for me to answer questions like this! So, just what book did Mamoru – or, more accurately, Endo – forget and leave behind, only for Reika to come and bring back to him?1

Endo and his book (Vol 3, p 59)

Endo and his book (Vol 3, p 59)

At first glance, the title of the book just seemed pretty generic and like something you’d write as a one-off line, akin to the fake movie titles you hear spouted off in movies. The title translates to “Encyclopedia of Jewelry” (宝飾大全; houshoku taizen) and opens up to a page entitled “Collectors’ Stones,” and shows a variety of different stones on it. This seems a bit odd to those of us who are particularly pedantic because the title of the book is specifically about jewelry, while the book itself shows a page on rare (and not-so-rare) stones. So what gives?

Houseki Taizen

Houseki Taizen

Well, after doing a little bit of research, it turns out that there actually was a book by this exact same title, published by Yomiuri Color Mook in February 1991, over a year before this scene appeared in Nakayoshi. However, after taking a look through the index of the book,2 it seems that while Ms. Takeuchi may have used this book as a reference when looking up different stones and their meanings for the series, it probably isn’t the base for the one Mamoru is reading here. The cover, however, does seem similar! But not quite what we’re looking for on the inside.

Around here, I almost gave up and just figured that this was a simple coincidence that the names matched, and maybe Ms. Takeuchi just made the book up. Seems possible, and there might not really be anything deeper to this story. Going back through my notes again, I made one last check of the Sailor Moon Perfect Edition (完全版; kanzenban) to get some higher quality scans and to see if I could get any further details. Wouldn’t you know it, but it turns out this that is yet another one of the scenes where Ms. Takeuchi actually made changes between the original run of the manga and the newer updates!

Endo and his (second?) book (Vol 2, p 153)

Endo and his (second?) book (Vol 2, p 153)

This time around, the book’s been renamed “General Primer on Gems and Crystals” (総論宝石結晶; soron houseki kesshou) and the inside looks different. Doing a quick search for the title, and bingo! There was a book by a very similar name published back in March 1992 by Relief Systems titled “Crystals and Gems” (結晶と宝石;kesshou to houseki). Now wait a minute, I know I’ve seen this before… and any one who grew up in the early 90s and had to spend time in their school library definitely has too.

Kesshou to Houseki

Kesshou to Houseki

After researching this book more, I found out that this is actually a translation of the book titled “Crystal and Gem,” written by Robert F. Symes, and published by DK Children.3 The book has been around since the 1960s and I assume remains relatively unchanged, since a quick look at the index confirms that on pages 48 and 49 (of the English edition, at least) is a section titled “Collectors’ items.” Not much unlike the section found in the first edition of the manga. Even the art style/layout of the English and Japanese book is incredibly similar to the style which Ms. Takeuchi used in the original scene.

Crystal and Gem pp. 48-49

Crystal and Gem pp. 48-49

In fact, if you take a look at the page and compare it with the image from the manga above, you’ll actually notice that Ms. Takeuchi’s sketch is a near exact copy of these pages! Even more interesting is that page 49 (right page) contains an image in the lower-left corner of Mr. George Kunz, the source of the name for the stone Kunzite. Quite an inside reference!

It’s funny that Ms. Takeuchi actually changed the title of the book in the re-release to be closer to the inspiration, and yet changed the inside of the book to be further away from what the referenced material looks like. It’s not like I don’t understand, though. In the original manga, it was simply a sketch and impossible to get an idea of what the contents of the book were like, while this new version has clearly written text with “Jadeite” and “Beryl” written on it. But it feels a little less nuanced, and more like she’s throwing you a softball.

However, I’m honestly impressed that Ms. Takeuchi went this far to put a reference to Kunzite in here, in a small sketch of a book in one tiny panel. Great job!

How Did the Youma of the Dark Kingdom Get Their Names? (Part 2)

The DD Girls

The DD Girls

Now we move onto the latter half of the first season of Sailor Moon and onto the youma serving under Zoisite. What’s interesting about this is that though we were generally granted our usual “one monster of the day” to meet the quota, for the most part these youma didn’t actually serve under Zoisite, but rather belonged to the Seven Great Youma, which had existed since the time of the Silver Millennium and were simply uncovered by Zoisite or the Sailor Team. Also rarely noted is that Queen Beryl herself also has youma which report directly to her, though to be honest, the structure of the Dark Kingdom is a bit hard to follow in the first place. Anyway, as we did in Part 1, let’s take a look at how the youma of the Dark Kingdom got their names!


  • Yasha: This is the Japanese word for Yaksha,1 a natural spirit appearing in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist texts. The meaning behind the face mask and the monster form is in reference to the female and male yakshas, which were portrayed respectively as beautiful with round faces and attractive figures, or as fearsome warriors.
    • You may recognize this name as being similar to the character Inuyasha, from the series with the same name. This is the same yasha being referenced.
  • GrapeSuzuran, and Housenka: Often referred to by Western fans as the “Plant Sisters,” though in the Japanese version they’ve been given no name other than the “Three Youma Girls.” Their names are clever plays off of flowers, but by using different kanji also spell out the names of their attacks, though unfortunately I can’t find any sort of deeper meaning behind Grape. As for the other two:
    • Suzuran when written as 鈴蘭 (suzuran) means “lily of the valley,” but by using a clever word play could be written as 鈴乱 (suzuran) which means something akin to “bell disturbance” (harmonic disorder?). Her attack name is 鈴乱れの音 (suzumidare no oto), meaning something like “Sonic Disrupting Screech!”
    • Housenka when written as 鳳仙花 (housenka) means a garden balsam, but the first part of her name can also be written as 砲戦 (housen), which is an artillery barrage. This is likely in reference to the fireballs she shoots.
  • Akan: This is a mix of the Japanese word あかん (akan) meaning bad, wrong, or something you shouldn’t be doing.2 Also, あか (aka) can also mean red, which explains the color.
    • As an interesting bit of trivia, this is the only time which any of the Four Kings other than Kunzite turns a normal human into a youma.

Seven Great Youma

  • Gesen: A direct reference to the Japanese word for arcade — ゲームセンター (game center), often abbreviated as ゲーセン (gesen).
  • Boxy: A Japanese pun which plays on both “boxer,” and the Japanese word for priest, 牧師 (bokushi).
  • Bunbo: Seeing as this youma was reincarnated as Ryo Urawa, one of the few characters to nearly match Ami in intelligence, and he’s themed after stationary supplies, his name — based on the Japanese word 文房具 (bunbougu; stationary supplies) — makes sense!
  • Binah: This is likely in reference to Binah,3 one of the ten Sephirah,4 which are considered to be the revelations of the Creator’s Will.
  • Rikoukeidar: The name is a play on the Japanese term 理工系 (rikoukei) for a person who is considered more logical (rather than artistic) or what we’d consider a science type. Makes sense considering the type of school Reika went to!
  • Jiji: This name is a double pun, based on the slang used to refer to an old man じじ (jiji; derived from おじさん, ojisan) and 獅子 (shishi), the basis for two 狛犬 (komainu) which appear outside Shinto shrines.5
  • Bakene: A play off of 化け猫 (bakeneko),6 one of the youkai, or ghosts/spirits, of Japanese legends.
A Bakeneko Youkai

A Bakeneko Youkai


  • Mitsuami: A direct reference to the Japanese word 三つ編み (mitsuami) meaning hair braided from three strands.
  • Shakoukai: A double pun playing on the term 社交界 (shakoukai) meaning social circle and 貝 (kai) meaning shellfish.
  • Blizzar: With all the hard work they put into names, I’m kinda disappointed that they went with a simple reference to blizzards here. I guess to Japanese speakers the reference isn’t so obvious, though?
  • Zoyrin Geller / Doyrin Geller: The Japanese pronunciation of this name isn’t even known among Japanese fans, much less among the Western audiences. One possible explanation is that the name is in reference to Solingen (pronounced with a Z in German and in Japanese), which is known as the City of Blades,7 which may be in reference to the ice skates.
    • As a bit of trivia, Janelyn (the female member of the pair) is a reference to Janet Lynn,8 an Olympic American figure skater.
  • Papillon: From the French word for butterfly.
  • Oniwabandana: A reference to the 御庭番 (oniwaban),9 secret agents serving under the Tokugawa government as spies and security guards. The second half of the name is also a play on bandana.

Queen Beryl

  • Thetis: A clear reference to the sea nymph of Greek mythology of the same name.10
    • One interesting thing about Thetis is that she’s one of the few youma who actually shows much personality and even interacts within the Dark Kingdom. She also was one of the strongest to appear until the Seven Great Youma.
  • DD Girls: Unfortunately, none of the individual team members have their own name, but rather are just known by their color. However, the group’s name is a reference to the Japanese all-girl pop group C.C. Girls,11 and mixed in with the reference to the D-Point, where the final battle took place.
CC Girls Telephone Card

CC Girls Telephone Card

And there you have it, an in-depth look into the names of all of the youma as they appeared in the first season of Sailor Moon! I gotta admit it was a bit exhausting, but I’m happy to see that the producers of this series went so far out of their way to put so many hidden meanings in these one-shot enemies. Who’d have known!

[(1-20-2015) Edited to add: Thanks for the catch on Boxy and 牧師 goes to Sailormoon Canada on Twitter!]

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.


  • 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


  • 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!