Why Are Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto’s Roles Reversed?

Just what's going on here, girls??

Just what’s going on here, girls??

Ms. Takeuchi’s near obsessive attention to detail is just one of the many things that make Sailor Moon such a great series. No matter how many times you watch or read through it, there’s always something new to discover.

And yet, despite her impressive ability to get even the tiniest details right on matters ranging from mythology to astronomy — and in a pre-Wikipedia world, no less!! — even Ms. Takeuchi messed up at some pretty crucial points.

… or did she?

Today we’re going to take a look at the ancient Moonie myth surrounding just what is going on with the Great Pluto and Saturn Mix-up. I hope you like Greco-Roman history, because things are about to get mythical!

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How Many Sailor Plutos Are There in Sailor Moon?

Won't the real Sailor Pluto please stand up?

Won’t the real Sailor Pluto please stand up?

While some may refer to Sailor Pluto as the Guardian of Time, I find myself typically referring to her by a very different name: the Soldier of Convenience.

It’s not that I don’t like her character — quite the opposite, in fact! — but more that it seems like so little thought was given to her background and motivations that she winds up just filling whatever plot hole the series is dealing with at the time.

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, we also need to contend with the fact that there are actually multiple Sailor Plutos within the Sailor Moon timeline!

… I mean, you knew that there were multiple Sailor Plutos, right?

Well, dear reader, it looks like we have an interesting conversation ahead of us. I hope you’ve had your coffee, because you’ll want to be awake for this!1

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Why Did Naoko Start Writing Sailor Moon Attack Names in Kanji?

Sailor Moon and the Holy Grail

Sailor Moon and the Holy Grail

While I’m well aware that the majority of the audience who reads this blog probably watched/read Sailor Moon in translation, I think it’s sometimes informative to take a look at the more in-depth Japanese linguistics issues that, even though they don’t have a substantial impact on the series as a whole, they still would stand out and affect the interpretation of a native Japanese speaker.

And besides, I live for this geeky Japanese interpretation stuff.

I hope you join along for this trip through the bizarre world of the kanji wordplay! If we’re really lucky, maybe we’ll have even learned something at the end of this!

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Why Doesn’t Setsuna / Sailor Pluto’s Story Make Any Sense?

Setsuna's back story confuses even herself

Setsuna’s back story confuses even herself

Considering how I constantly talk about how Setsuna simply serves as a third wheel to Haruka and Michiru, it may comes as something of a surprise that she’s one of my favorite characters… in theory. The idea of a single Sailor Soldier surviving all the way from(and possibly prior to?) the Silver Millennium is a fascinating concept — even more so when you think about the emotional hardship she must have gone through living all on her own for centuries at a time.

Sadly, in stark contrast with this vast amount of potential her character had, neither the anime nor manga did much with Setsuna. And what they did do didn’t even make sense.

Today, we’re going to talk about how utterly non-sensical Setsuna’s university education is.

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Why Does Sailor Pluto Look Different From the Rest?

Sailor Pluto looks a little... hmm.

Sailor Pluto looks a little… hmm.

Take a look at any lineup of the Sailor Soldiers and you’ll undoubtedly notice that, well… Setsuna – Sailor Pluto – tends to stand out just a bit from the other members of the Sailor Team. But just why is that?

One of the theories I’ve seen thrown around a lot is that Sailor Pluto isn’t Japanese, and that is why she differs in appearance from the rest of the cast. Well, today we’ll take a look at this question and more, and see what Ms. Takeuchi and the world of Sailor Moon can tell us about the Sailor Soldier of Time!

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Do Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna’s Names Refer Back to Usagi?

Our names mean WHAT??

Our names mean WHAT??

Names are something I’ve talked about at length in this blog, from those of the main cast down to the lowly monsters of the day, and odds are good that this is something I will continue to talk about for a long time to come.

Today, we’ll be taking a look into the some possible inspirations behind the names of our favorite Outer Soldiers. Why don’t you come along for the ride?

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Why Did the Outer Senshi Use Lipstick in Their Transformations?

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

The Outer Senshi Applying Lipstick

This is yet another one of those questions that I’ve been wondering about for a long time that could either be something as simple as a design choice made up by either the animation staff or Ms. Takeuchi herself, or might actually have some sort of deeper meaning behind it. After all, the staff behind the Sailor Moon anime didn’t hesitate to make some pretty far-reaching, if arbitrary, decisions to alter characters personalities. However, for the most part, most of their changes were for the sake of adding in additional meaning to the anime as references for astute fans.

So why is it that, while every one of the Sailor Soldiers either has their nails painted during their transformation (or showcases their painted nails during when transforming into their Super forms), the adding of lipstick is a characteristic unique to the Outer Sailor Soldiers. Making things all the more interesting is that Sailor Saturn is excluded from this quirk, and her transformation clearly showcases her magical manicure.

Sailor Moon's Magical Manicure

Sailor Moon’s Magical Manicure

As best as I can determine, this design choice was most likely made in consideration of the target audience of the anime, and what is actually considered “adult” to them. After having watched, read, and played Sailor Moon in its myriad of forms, it’s easy to forget that the magical items they use are real-world items and that their “Make Up” transformation phrase is not only a nifty thing to shout, but also directly references the transformations these young girls are making into sailor-suited heroines. And in this case, it also is referencing real-world make-up.

According to a 2014 web survey conducted by My Navi Woman1 on women’s age when they first wore lipstick, the number one response was 18 years old, at 20.3%. Though the second most common response, 12 or younger, was at 19.8%, this actually is in the minority when you calculate the rest of the ages together. Taken as a whole, >60% of women responded that they were either 16 years or older when they first used lipstick. The same age range, incidentally, as Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna.

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

Inner Senshi Manicure Set

But for those numbers to be meaningful, we need to know about Japanese manicure trends. Fortunately, Benesse did a survey in 20112 with Japanese parents on just that. As early as 6 years old, 44.1% and 26.5% of girls were reported to being either interested in or actually painting their nails, respectively. Though the painting of nails is still forbidden in the vast majority of Japanese schools – even through high school! – it nicely highlights the point on what kind of makeup girls Usagi’s age and younger have in mind.

While this is by no means any sort of definitive proof of why the three talisman-bearing Sailor Soldiers all have lipstick applied when they transform, I think it does at least give an interesting insight into Japanese attitudes toward makeup which may differ from those in the West.

If I were to wager a guess, I would say that the point in doing it this way was to highlight the age difference between the new and mysterious Sailor Soldiers being introduced in the Death Busters Arc and to give them an added sense of maturity. It also explains why Hotaru goes along with the others in just having her nails painted. What do you think about all this? Do you think there was any sort of deeper meaning behind it, or just a stylistic choice of the animators?