Is Usagi Just a Copy of Minako from Codename: Sailor V?

♪ One of these things is not like the other ♪

♪ One of these things is not like the other ♪

Whether Minako is considered a prototype for Usagi or a completely unique character seems to be a matter often debated among fans — and not without good reason. After all, it’s a well known fact that Ms. Takeuchi originally started Codename: Sailor V as a one-shot story meant to tell the tales of a sailor-suited warrior of justice. Only later did that idea get transformed into the Sailor Moon world that we came to know and love.

The anime even played heavily, perhaps too heavily, on this trope, adding further fuel to the Usagi/Minako copycat fire.

And yet, like practically everything else in the Sailor Moon universe, things are not as simple as they seem.

Today we’re going to take a look at Usagi and Minako’s characters in-depth and and see if we can settle once and for all just how similar (and different!) they really are. I hope you’ve got a talking cat handy, because you just may need one to untangle this mess!

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Happy Birthday Minako Aino!

Sailor Venus cake by YouTuber DreamChaser

Sailor Venus cake by YouTuber DreamChaser (watch video)

Ah, Minako Aino — part-time lover, part-time volleyball playing, Queen-stabbing Sailor Senshi. Is there nothing this girl can’t do?

Thanks to her dual story arcs in Codename: Sailor V and in Sailor Moon, Minako is one of the few characters sporting character growth nearly on the same level, or possibly even greater, than Usagi herself!

The girl who was once a crime-fighting rookie eventually joins the Sailor Senshi as a veteran warrior and leader of the Sailor Team. The fact that these two arcs blend together so easily is yet another credit to Ms. Takeuchi’s amazing storytelling abilities.

Today in honor of Minako Aino’s birthday (her 40th, if case you’re counting!), we’ll be talking about five interesting facts about her character and the role she plays in Sailor Moon. Be sure to stick her around and wish her a good one!

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What Are the Sailor Soldiers’ Favorite Ways of Fortune Telling?

Usagi getting her fortune told (ep. 2; using yarrow stalks)

Usagi getting her fortune told (ep. 2; using yarrow stalks)

Once again, we’re going to be talking about something that you never knew you wanted to know: the way that each of the Sailor Soldiers prefers likes to throw their fate to the wind and find out what their fortunes may be.

That’s right, we’re talking about fortune telling! Join along for another trip into exploring the profiles of our favorite Sailor Soldiers!

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How Did the Sailor Soldiers’ Views of Love and Life Differ?

All you need is love! ♪

All you need is love! ♪

With all of the exciting adventures the Sailor Soldiers embark on and the resulting epic battles against the forces of evil, it’s often easy to forget that, at its core, Sailor Moon is a story of teenage romance.

Today, I’d like to take a closer look at the softer side of our sailor-suited heroines and see how their approaches to love and life differed.

So without further ado, let’s get this started!

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Why Do Minako and Rei Always End Up Together?

What's going on here??

What’s going on here??

Alternative title: What Is the Relationship Between Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars?

Whenever the Sailor Soldiers split up in the anime or manga, you’ll notice that the breakdown generally ends up with Makoto and Ami and then Rei and Minako. Today, we’re going to take a look at why that may be, and if there’s any deeper reason as to why Ms. Takeuchi decided on this break down.

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Why Was There No True Leader of the Sailor Team?

Who's in Charge?

Who’s in Charge?

Before you get all excited and start commenting that Sailor Venus was the leader of the Inner Senshi and that this is clearly spelled out in the manga, I’ll stop you right there and point out that I know this. However, outside of one or two mentions in the manga, Sailor Venus never functionally performs any leadership roles, and in the anime I’d say it’s up to debate whether she’s actually leader at all. When you consider that the the battles against the Monsters of the Day end with someone shouting to the effect of “Now, Sailor Moon!” it’s pretty hard to view anyone else but our titular character as the leader. Or… is it?

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Why Did Sailor Venus Play the Role of the Moon Princess?

The Moon and Venus – Not as Different as They Seem

The Moon and Venus – Not as Different as They Seem

One of the odd peculiarities of the co-existence of the shared universes of Code Name: Sailor V and Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is the fact that despite Sailor V(enus) being the first Sailor Soldier to make an appearance, she was the last one to join the team. Not only that, but despite having been the self-proclaimed Sailor Venus,1 she further claimed that she was was the true heir to the Moon Kingdom – Princess Serenity. She not only has the crescent on her forehead, but the Crescent Compact2 to prove it. So what gives? Why was she the one chosen to play the role of the princess (and not Ami, Rei, or Makoto?) and, for that matter, why does she even have a crescent compact in the first place if she’s not even from the moon?

To answer this question, we need to go back in time—almost 405 years exactly3 to the late fall/early winter of 1610, and to the observations of the planet Venus made by Galileo Galilei. Though the existence of Venus had been known to civilizations across the globe since time immemorial, one of Galileo’s greatest contributions to the budding field of astronomy gained through his observation of Venus was in his finding proof that the old geocentric model (in which the Sun, stars, and other celestial bodies revolve around the Earth)4 was provably wrong and that the heliocentric model (in which the Earth and other celestial bodies revolve around the Sun)5 must be correct.

Sailor Venus as Princess Serenity

Sailor Venus as Princess Serenity

And how did Galileo come to this conclusion? Through his observation that Venus has a crescent phase, much like the moon. Or, in Galileo’s own words (in Latin):6

Cynthiae figuras aemulatur mater amorum

And in English:

The mother of love [Venus] copies the forms of Cynthia [the Moon]

Indeed, as Galileo saw it, the significance of Venus in his observations was that it was displaying the same phenomenon we observe on a monthly basis when looking up at the moon. Put into other words, Venus was imitating the moon – not unlike how Sailor Venus pretends to be Princess Serenity, the heir-apparent to the Moon Kingdom. This would also explain being given the crescent compact in the Sailor V manga and her using it as a weapon, since the crescent shape of Venus was one of its important features. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that any of this would have been lost on Ms. Takeuchi. Not only was she clearly thorough with her research in the first place, but she herself is a fan of astronomy and was a member of the astronomy club in high school.7

As for why Sailor Venus was the last to join the team despite the first to make an appearance, there could of course be many answers for this, but part of the reasoning behind that may also lie in her namesake planet: Venus is known both as the Evening Star and as the Morning Star, due to it appearing early in the evening shortly after the sun sets and preceding the sunrise in the early morning. This tracks nicely with her appearance in the Sailor Moon anime and manga, as she both preceded (Sailor) Moon and was the last to make her appearance.

It’s unclear how much of the story Ms. Takeuchi already had planned out ahead of time before the one-shot release of Code Name: Sailor V in RunRun and when, a little over half a year later, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon was first serialized in Nakayoshi, but considering all the work she went into putting together all the other mysteries of the series, there’s definitely a lot there to support a variety of theroies!