Why Does Sailor Moon Heal Everyone?

Mooooon Healing ESCALATION!

Mooooon Healing ESCALATION!

An alternative title for this question is probably: “Why Doesn’t Sailor Moon Kill More People?” But that seemed a little dark, so I decided for some nicer phrasing. It’s not like we actually want Usagi to kill, right?

One thing that makes this question interesting is that, if Sailor Moon had been a cartoon originally made in the United States back in the early 90’s, I wouldn’t give this a second thought and it wouldn’t even occur to me that it’s odd that the vast majority of the monsters of the day (and even the major villains!) end up being ‘healed’ or otherwise brought over to the side of good. Even when the villains do wind up being killed in the anime, they usually die at their own hands, by being backstabbed by a colleague, or for some reason unrelated to the Sailor Team. But this is Japan, where the concept of showing bad (or even good!) people die in children’s media isn’t considered to be so wrong.

Detective Conan can be surprisingly dark...

Detective Conan can be surprisingly dark…

Take Detective Conan for example. Its target audience is mainly young children, and yet since the anime began its run in 1996, a total of 334 people have died as of episode 631.1 Since the story is meant to take place over just one year (without any of the fancy time-resets Sailor Moon is granted), that works out to 0.9 deaths per day!

Even in the live-action Super Sentai series,2 which Sailor Moon‘s concept is based on, at the very least the daily monsters were generally killed without a second thought.

The first, and most obvious answer, is the argument related to sexism (though not necessarily in a bad way): the Sailor Soldiers are girls, and thus are seen to be pure and shouldn’t be killing people. What makes this a particularly difficult to refute argument is that the Sailor Moon series essentially created the fighting superheroine genre3 in Japan, so we don’t have a lot of examples to go off of. But I personally don’t think that’s 100% of the story.

Moonlight Mask

Moonlight Mask

I wonder if, perhaps, this might be partially related to the major thematic element of the series – the moon. In fact, Japan’s first tv superhero, Moonlight Mask,4 also fought as a “soldier from the moon.” His name (月光仮面; gekkou kamen) actually comes from the Japanese name of the Buddhist bodhisattva Candraprabha,5 whose name is written in Japanese as 月光菩薩 (gakkou bosatsu; Moonlight Bodhisattva).

So how does this connect to the Sailor Soldiers always choosing to show mercy over killing? Well, Moonlight Mask’s motto (as a throwback to his Buddhist inspiration) might be the key:


“Do not hate, do not kill – let us forgive.”

Moonlight Mask was also known for not killing his enemies, possibly in reference to the Buddhist origins behind his name, but I also believe it’s related to the perception of the moon as a source of unsullied purity; a light in the darkness. This connection also is carried through into the Sailor Moon series, from the purity of the characters themselves and even back to the peace of the Silver Millennium, which was only put to an end due to the greed of humanity. But what about you? Do you think it’s simply a matter of tv viewers not wanting to see women kill, or is there possibly some other, deeper explanation that I missed?

As an interesting aside, between his turban, name, and all white outfit, he’s pretty clearly the inspiration behind Moonlight Knight, and also the second time Mamoru is based on an old Japanese superhero.

Is Michiru the Most Powerful of the Sailor Soldiers?

Is Neptune really an unstoppable force?

Is Neptune really an unstoppable force?

Let me start out first by saying that I don’t necessarily subscribe to the theory that Sailor Neptune is the most powerful of the Sailor Team, but during my research of going through old Japanese fan sites, this was an interesting theory I ran across. The reasons behind it are also pretty interesting, so whether or not this is something one personally believes in or not, it’s definitely something interesting to think about!

Before we can talk about “most powerful,” I think it’s important that we take the time to define what it is that we’re actually talking about and, more importantly, to explain why the obvious choices don’t count.

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How Did Ail and An’s Cardians Get Their Names?

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

Surprisingly, Sailor Moon and WWE do have something in common

While the whole Monster of the Day (MotD) concept is one of the more memorable aspects of the battles the Sailor Team take part in during their various adventures, it’s easy to forget that this was really more of an invention of the anime than anything else. This is, of course, all doubly true when it comes to the Cardian Arc of Sailor Moon R since… well… there was no corresponding story line in the manga.  While in Ms. Takeuchi’s manga, many of the MotD (be they youma, droids, or otherwise) actually went unnamed since they were one-off, throwaway characters, fortunately for us it seems that the anime had a penchant for creatively (generally pun-related) names. As with the youma of the Dark Kingdom, Ail and An’s Cardians don’t disappoint with their names. Let’s take a look at where they came from!

The Cardians

It probably goes without saying, but the name “Cardian” itself is a play off of both “card” and “guardian,” though the idea of them being guardians is a bit ironic when you think about the fact that they exist to help Ail and An steal energy from humans and fight against the Sailor Soldiers. However, it you look at it from Ail and An’s point of view, I suppose you could easily consider them to be guardians of sorts! Individually, though, is where it gets interesting.

  • Vampir: Due to her sucking energy (from our favorite victim, Naru!) for the Doom Tree (Makaiju), it’s pretty obvious that she got her name from the English word “vampire,” though the plant connection seems to just have been added in without any relation to the name.
    • As an interesting bit of trivia, Vampir was voiced by no other than Megumi Ogata, the same voice actress who voiced Haruka Tenoh!
  • Minotauron: Based obviously in both design and abilities on the Minotaur1 of Greek mythology. As for the “~ron” part of the name? This appears to be related to an obscure French term for a cut of beef between the neck and the shoulder, talon.2 You may also recognize this name from Talon, the owner of Lon Lon Ranch3 in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and beyond.
  • Phalion: You’ll often see the name of this character romanized with an f (rather than a ph), but considering the character’s design appears to be based on that of a sphinx (note that this is not the Sphinx, but a sphinx – a monster in Greek mythology said to be made up of a lion’s body and a female head)4 I think that the beginning part of the name, the “Pha / Fa,” is actually a word play with Pharaoh (which is written similarly in Japanese), hence the spelling.
  • Hell Ant: This is one of those Cardians that, to an English speaker, is pretty straight forward. She’s basically an ant. From hell.
  • Leshy: This is another name that you’re likely to see written differently on the web, usually as “Reci.” The Japanese spelling is an exact match with the Japanese spelling for Leshy,5 a spirit of the woods from Russian fairy tales. Considering the mythological basis for the rest of the characters and that she attacks during cherry blossom season (and from a tree, no less), this seems like a more proper connection.
  • Gigaros: The name is a play on both the Greek word giga– meaning huge6 and the Japanese name for Icarus.7
    • According to an interview with Takuya Igarashi,8, an episode director for Sailor Moon R, this was actually the first Cardian designed.9
  • Amaderasu: Continuing our mythological theme, this time the reference goes back into Japanese mythology, as this monster is pretty clearly named after Amaterasu,10 one of the first gods in the Shinto religion and the goddess of the sun. Her name may also be a play off of Amadeus, since they’re spelled so similarly in Japanese.
  • Seiren: This Cardian’s name is a pretty clear connection to the Siren11 of Greek mythology. The separt of the name, though, may be a pun in reference to the Japanese kanji for “voice” – 声 – which can be read as sei.
  • Utonberino: One of those names that absolutely doesn’t localize well, this is the Japanese word for a traditional boxed lunch, 海苔弁当 (noribentou; nori boxed lunch)12 written backwards. This is obviously where the character design comes from. It’s not exactly apparent in English, but when you break it up as no-ri be-n-to-u and u-to-n-be ri-no, you can see it easier.
  • Bipierrot: Named after pierrot,13 a mime of sorts in traditional French theater and the Japanese word for clown, the connection is pretty obvious. As for where the bi part of the name comes from, my best guess is that it’s the same as the one used in used in Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン; bishoujo senshi se-ra-mu-n), since bi here means “pretty” or “beautiful” and often is used for female-related words.
    • According to an interview with Noriyo Sasaki,14 an episode director, the original inspiration for Bipierrot was Doink the Clown,15 a WWF wrestler popular at the time.16
  • Amanju: Once again we go back to Japanese folklore for inspiration, this time to the amanojaku,17 a demon which is said to provoke one’s darkest desires. This would explain the connection with reading everyone’s minds, though judging by the horns and all, the design seems to be based off of a standard Japanese oni.18
  • Yamandakka: While the appearance is obvious – an Asura19 from Buddhist mythology – the basis for her name is a bit of a mystery to me. The best possible answer I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s a play on the Japanese term for Asura which are depicted with three faces and six arms, a design known as 三面六臂 (sanmenroppi).20 If you were to yaman could be an altered reading of 四面 (four faces) and 足花 (legs, flower; read as da and ka respectively).
The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

The Mysterious, Unnamed Cardian

And there you have it! Once again, the various animators, directors, and all the staff who worked on the Sailor Moon anime don’t disappoint when it comes to making creative and interesting character names. Though some of them are a bit obvious to native English speakers, like the Ail, An, and Fiore connections, it’s nice to see all of the different mythologies tied together. And who would have known that a wrestling star would be the inspiration for a character!

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 Used by the Four Kings Differ?

Reference Sketches for Episode 20

Reference Sketches for Episode 20

While it’s pretty well known that the way each of the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom went about their job was different (as well as the objectives assigned to them by Queen Beryl), one of the interesting “blink and you’ll miss it” facts about this arc is that the youma1 who served under them were also different. I’d like to also go into how each of their names were also unique/relevant to the episode that they appeared in, but we’ll need to go into that sometime later due to the sheer volume of names we’d have to look at. So for now, let’s take a look at how the youma under each of the Four Kings differed!


In nearly all of the Jadeite episodes, there was generally some sort of transformation taking place, usually in the form of either Jadeite himself or the youma he dispatched dressing up and pretending to be a human. In the first episode, for example, Morga had abducted Naru’s mother and pretended to be her for at least several days. Though it’s unclear how long Naru’s mother was abducted, we do know that jewelry sales were going on for several days and in the manga she remarks that Naru’s mother is dying of starvation as they speak.2 Though it’s not always clear if they take the place of specific humans or sometimes simply make up an identity, this is the running theme throughout the Jadeite arc. Not one to miss out on the cosplay action, Jadeite himself also gets involved in multiple episodes: 3 (as a radio DJ), 10 (bus driver), and 11 (security guard) off the top of my head.


Nephrite is somewhat unique in that he gets involved more directly than the other Kings. However, the youma that he oversaw typically differed with those from Jadeite’s in that they rarely (if ever?) would actually transform into or pretend to be humans, but rather would possess Nephrite’s target as identified through his fortune-telling or something that belonged to and was important to them in order to steal their energy. Tesni and the tennis racket, Widou and the cloth, and Kyameran and the camera are all good examples of this. There is one exception to this rule, though, in episode 19 with Neprite Kamen, but I guess he just wanted a chance to be in the lime light!


Zoisite’s case is a bit different, since the majority of the youma working under (with?) him can’t even be said to be serving under him at all in the first place. However, nearly all of those that appear in this arc are one of the Seven Great Youma, each tied to one of the seven Rainbow Crystal shards and being reincarnated as humans. They were said to have been the strongest of Queen Beryl’s minions, so it’s possible that several millennia they served under Zoisite, but that’s unclear.

Binah – One of the Seven Great Youma (Ep. 28)

Binah – One of the Seven Great Youma (Ep. 28)

So anyway, the youma in this arc are unique in that they are all monsters reborn as humans, which has imbued their human form with special powers. Their youma form typically assumes a trait of the person they inhabited.

That’s not always the case, however, as seen in episodes 23 and 24, with Yasha and the three youma Zoisite sent to kill Nephrite. Unfortunately, with so few examples, we can’t really find a common theme between them.


Kunzite’s situation is interesting in that it’s basically the opposite of what Jadeite did: rather than have youma take the place of (or pretend to be) a human, he simply turned a human into a youma to cause them to do his dirty work. Though it’s not clear (and never really explained in the series) if he causes a youma working under him to possess the human and Sailor Moon uses the power of the Silver Crystal to destroy it or if he simply imbues the human with powers which causes them to become a youma, which Sailor Moon cleanses from them. My guess is the latter, since they still seem to have human emotions and maintain their relationships, as is the case with Janelyn and Misha in episode 39.

For something so minor and that could’ve easily devolved into a “monster of the day” segment, I’m personally glad that the anime producers went so far out of their way as to treat all of the Four Kings differently. Not only were their tasks different, but the way they went after their tasks were also sufficiently different and definitely kept the series interesting through the whole season!