Is Rei Hino / Sailor Mars Part Demon?

This can't be normal

This can’t be normal

While most of the Sailor Soldiers don’t seem to show any sort of magical aptitude outside of their post-henshin’d form, Rei (and, okay, Hotaru) is unique in that she has supernatural abilities even in her “normal” form. After all, shortly after Rei’s first appearance in the manga we’re already given accounts of her having mysterious powers.1

And that’s saying nothing of her fire reading abilities or stunning people with ofuda in both the anime and manga.

So we’re gonna take a look at the interesting possibility that this may be at least somewhat attributable to Rei being part demon. How, you ask? Read on and find out!

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What’s It Like to Be a Sailor Moon Cosplayer?

Saturn and Saturn

Saturn and Saturn

Whether you’re an anime or manga fan in Japan, Europe, America, or anywhere else around the globe, odds are that you’re intimately familiar with cosplay, and may have even done it yourself. While cosplay isn’t limited to — or even unique to — Japan, it is without a doubt well-known for the high quality of the costumes and incredible attention to detail by the cosplayers who bring our favorite characters to life. Today, I’d like to talk about the experiences of one such cosplayer.

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Is Hotaru the Source for the Otaku Slang Term “Moe”?

Is Hotaru the Original Moe?

Is Hotaru the Original Moe?

For anyone who has been keeping up with anime terminology and slang popularly used in the otaku sub-culture (both in Japan and abroad), you have no doubt run across the term moe. Probably quite often, in fact. Though the term itself mostly is used to refer to the sense of adoration or affection toward a given character, it can also be used in reference to a character (or actions by said character) which would elicit such reactions. One of the popular theories is that the term was first inspired by Hotaru, which is what we’re going to look at today!

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Why Did Professor Tomoe Sacrifice Hotaru?

Hotaru Taken by a Tragic Explosion

Hotaru Taken by a Tragic Explosion

Now, far be it from me to pass judgment on what makes a good and bad parent, but I’ve always found it… questionable that Professor Souichi Tomoe chose to implant a daimon egg in his daughter (and only surviving member of his family after the tragic death of his wife), which ultimately allowed Mistress 9 to take control of Hotaru. While this plot device – or one like it – was obviously necessary for the progression of the Death Busters story arc, I wasn’t completely satisfied with that answer. After all, Ms. Takeuchi is pretty well known for putting meaning behind the most insignificant details, right? While most of what’s written in this post is just speculation on my part, I think there’s enough evidence to at least give it some serious consideration. So let’s take a closer look!

Even mad scientists need to eat...

Even mad scientists need to eat…

While I’m generally a fan of the Occam’s Razor1 school of thought (i.e., that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be true), when it comes to explaining the personalities and backgrounds of the characters of the Sailor Moon series, Ms. Takeuchi has proven to prefer depth and complexity. In order to answer the question about Hotaru and her father’s questionable parenting practices, we again look to Greco-Roman mythology for a little context.

Cronus, the Greek god on which Saturn was based,2 had something of a bad habit when it came to eating his own children. Seeing as he had castrated and overthrown his own father, Uranus, in order to become the ruler of the universe,3 it’s somewhat understandable that Cronus would worry about his own children wanting to topple him. In fact, he was told by Uranus and Gaia (his mother) that his own son would be his undoing. In order to put a stop to that, he would eat his children shortly after they were born.

Though canonically we would accept Hotaru as the character representative of Saturn/Cronus when it comes to her portrayal within the Sailor Moon series – indeed, Saturn was often depicted with a scythe/sickle similar to the Silence Glaive – I wonder if it’s also possible to look at the story as it’s applied to her. Though Professor Tomoe clearly cared about his daughter and sought to save her life, implanting the daimon egg within her and allowing Mistress 9 to possess Hotaru seemed to be connected with his desire to further his research (which is what caused the accident in the first place) and completely separate from his efforts to keep Hotaru alive.

Professor Tomoe – Not All There?

Professor Tomoe – Not All There?

While one could naturally point out the obvious difference in eating your own children and what Professor Tomoe did, the results are not so dissimilar when you take a look at the motivations behind them: like Cronus, Professor Tomoe was willing to sacrifice his own child in order to further his own goals in his quest for power.

This could all very well be just a coincidence, but seeing how much effort Ms. Takeuchi went even to match up star signs and birthdays for all of the characters, it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibilities. So what do you think? Do you think that Professor Tomoe’s treatment of Hotaru was in reference to the Greek origins of the character? Just a plot device? Maybe some other theory…? I’d love to hear it!

What is the Inspiration Behind Sailor Saturn’s Silence Glaive?

Sailor Saturn and Her Silence Glaive

Sailor Saturn and Her Silence Glaive

While most of the weapons in the Sailor Moon universe range from either the fancifully bizarre (e.g., head-jewelry-turned-boomerangs), to mundane (e.g., magical-but-plainly-normal disguise pens), and even extend to the mythological (e.g., the three talismans), the Silence Glaive – wielded by Sailor Saturn, the most powerful of the Sailor Soldiers – has always been an interesting source of debate among fans of the series as far back as I can remember. Part of this is due to the name itself, of course, though there is also some confusion regarding its significance to the series and why she uses such an obscure weapon. Let’s take a close look at what this weapon is, and if there may be any deeper reason why Ms. Takeuchi chose for her to use it!

The Silence Glaive

The Silence Glaive

The first, and most obvious, question people often ask is: what exactly is a glaive anyway? While I’m not exactly an expert in medieval European weaponry, the best way to summarize a glaive is that it’s a form of a spear, but with a sharpened blade which is used for cutting rather than thrusting/stabbing,1 and is actually quite similar to the Japanese samurai weapon known as a naginata.2 Over the years, some fans have suggested that the Silence Glaive itself may be closer to the medieval European weapon known as a halberd (and that the name itself may be a mistake),3 but taking into consideration that it is more similar to a long axe, this seems unlikely. More likely, this assumption probably comes from the fact that some Japanese-English dictionaries refer to a naginata as a form of halberd.

Making matters more confusing, Ms. Takeuchi had actually chosen to write out the name of the Silence Glaive in kanji in its first appearance.4 The Japanese name given for it is: 沈黙の鎌 (chinmoku no kama; sickle of silence). This is more than likely a direct reference to the popular image of the Grim Reaper/Death,5 who is often depicted as wielding a sickle for reaping the souls of the dead. That said, when you look at the design of the weapon and its decidedly non-sickle-like-appearance, it’s probably safe to assume that Ms. Takeuchi was using the term “sickle” (鎌; kama) in reference to the Chinese/Japanese weapon known as a “sickle-spear” (鎌槍; kamayari).6

Various Forms of Kamayari

Various Forms of Kamayari

While this basically takes care of the question of what Ms. Takeuchi’s intention was when she was naming the Silence Glaive, this still leaves a lot of questions open with regard to what she actually had in mind when she was drawing it. As mentioned above, either a glaive or a naginata would be an obvious choice since the former is used in the actual name and the latter is a traditional Japanese military weapon, I personally think that the crescent blade (偃月刀; yanyuedao),7 a traditional Chinese pole weapon, is more likely to have been the source of inspiration for Sailor Saturn’s weapon, especially considering the curved blade (and the connection to the moon, which is included in the Chinese characters for the weapon itself).

A Crescent Blade (偃月刀; Yanyuedao)

A Crescent Blade (偃月刀; yanyuedao)

And for reference, the Silence Glaive…

The Silence Glaive (沈黙の鎌; chinmoku no kama)

The Silence Glaive (沈黙の鎌; chinmoku no kama)

Without an interview with Ms. Takeuchi herself regarding what her intentions were it’s not really possible to make any clear and definitive statements as to what the basis for the design, history, and inspiration behind the Silence Glaive were, but thanks for some of the hints she gave through the Japanese kanji, I do think we are able to at least make several strong guesses on the issue.

What do you think, though? I’d love to hear more theories on this matter, and other people’s thoughts on possible inspirations behind this unique weapon!

What is a Tomoe and Its Connection to Saturn / Hotaru?

Hotaru Mitsu-Domoe

Hotaru Mitsu-Domoe

It would probably be fair to say that the historical connections and meanings behind the names of the Sailor Moon cast seems to be something of a running theme for me. On the other side of the coin, though, Ms. Takeuchi definitely seems to have done her homework when it comes to naming her characters and even went out of her way to add hidden references to the character’s planets and personalities. And that’s not even talking about all of the in-jokes and references that the anime staff put in!

As most any Sailor Moon fan can tell you, all of the Sailor Soldiers are named in a way that directly references their planets (though the Minako/Venus connection isn’t so obvious). Once she reached the Outer Soldiers, in fact, their names literally come from the Japanese names for their respective planets,1 with the final character for star/planetary-body (星; hoshi)2 omitted. However, oddly enough, Hotaru’s last name, Tomoe, doesn’t fit so neatly into this naming system. In fact, other than the fact that the To part of her name is made up of the symbol for soil (土; tsuchi/to),3 which is the Japanese elemental symbol representing Saturn.4

The planets and their Japanese/English names

The planets and their Japanese/English names

What about Moe? Well, the kanji used is an alternate (uncommon and used only for names)5 way of writing moe (萌え; infatuation),6 which I’m sure is a term that many modern fans of Japanese anime are familiar with.7 So at first blush, one could assume that Hotaru’s last name implies that she is infatuated with the earth… but that would be incorrect. As with the names of some other characters, the most obvious Japanese translation is not always the correct answer, and that’s also the case here with Hotaru’s last name.

Taiko drum with a mitsudomoe

Taiko drum with a mitsudomoe

You see, the more likely interpretation is that the kanji which make of Tomoe (土萠) are irrelevant and that her name is actually a direct reference to the Japanese shape known as a tomoe.8 In its most common form, as a mitsudomoe (三つ巴; triple tomoe) which is commonly found on Shinto shrines and on taiko drums, it is said to represent the three-fold division between mankind, earth, and sky. Incidentally, going back to its Shinto roots (though the symbol also appears in Korea, China, and throughout Asia, so it’s fair to say that its origins are not Japanese), the tomoe was traditionally associated with Hachiman, the god of war.9 What’s more, this was also the symbol used on the flag of the Ryukyuan Kingdom10 and is today strongly associated with karate and various other forms of martial arts throughout Okinawa, further cementing its military nature.

Taken all together, it’s pretty apparent that the stronger connection for Hotaru here would be with the tomoe symbol, both for its military applications (which ties in nicely with her status as one of the most powerful Sailor Soldiers) as well as for its symbolism related to the various stages of life – birth, death, and life in heaven.

As usual, I really have to give it to Ms. Takeuchi to be able to slip references like this in, all the while making it seem totally natural. Not only did she manage to include the reference to the planet Saturn, but even managed to include a far deeper cultural reference. She never ceases to amaze!