What Kind of Car Did Usagi’s Family Own?

The Tsukino family truckster

The Tsukino family truckster

While cars may not be the most fascinating aspect of Sailor Moon, it’s always interesting to take a look at how Ms. Takeuchi and the animation staff have gone through the effort to bring things from the real world, such as the Crown Game Center, and accurately represent them in the manga and anime. Of course, real world inspiration isn’t limited to only places and things, but it extends as far as the magical items the characters wield and even some of the clothes they wear (which is another topic for another time)!

One question that begs to be asked, though, is why exactly real world locations and things as simple as cars are copied over into the world of Sailor Moon. While this makes a lot of sense in the case of really famous locations (such as Tokyo Tower) and the latest sports cars, since it can instill a sense of familiarity into the viewer, this doesn’t make quite as much sense when we’re talking about the Tsukino’s family truckster.1 I find it kind of hard to believe that anyone was actually a fan of the VW Golf II GTi 16V, Mr. Tsukino’s car of choice.2

VW Golf II GTi 16v

VW Golf II GTi 16v

The most likely answer as to why this car was used in the anime is, frankly, that it’s just easier to copy a real world design that it is to make it up yourself. I’m not an artist myself, so I spoke with some professional illustrators to try to get another perspective on this. According to my friend, it’s easy enough to imagine the concept of a ‘street intersection,’ ‘car,’ or any other generic place or thing, it’s actually quite challenging to freehand draw a car unless you have some experience.

There is, in fact, a whole industry in Japan devoted to providing manga artists and illustrators with royalty-free photos of both famous landmarks and generic locations.3 In some cases these are just used for inspiration, though they are often used for tracing over in order to make convincing-looking background scenery. It’s actually quite likely that Ms. Takeuchi used something like this (or photos she took herself) when sketching out her manga.

Does the Tsukino family have two cars??

Does the Tsukino family have two cars??

As for the car itself, there isn’t too much interesting to say about it other than that when new, the Golf4 sold for approximately three times the price of the most popular car at the time,5 the Toyota Corolla.6 Considering the rather impressive house they lived in, it’s probably fairly safe to say that the Tsukino’s were doing all right, financially speaking!

Oh, and in case you were curious, yes… the car did have seat belts for all 5 passengers, so there was no excuse for Usagi and Shingo to slack off on safety!

Nothing altogether world shattering here, but it is somewhat interesting to see how much of the real world inspired the world of Sailor Moon, especially when you consider how much of an impact the series had on the real world. It makes me wonder just how many real world things you can find if you were to stop and look closely at other minor things in the background!

Does Usagi’s Family Also Have a Moon Connection?

The Tsukinos

The Tsukinos

The Tsukino family play an interesting part in the Sailor Moon universe since they both have a strong connection to Usagi – the central character in the story – while at the same time supposedly representing what is mundane and normal in the world. Since it’s pretty well known that Ms. Takeuchi was a fan of adding in little touches here and there as in-jokes/references about her characters, often through clever puns in their names, it’s probably worth taking a deeper look at what connections, if any, Usagi’s family has.

First and foremost, it’s worth noting that the Usagi’s family members’ names don’t have any special meanings behind them, since we know that the makeup of her family and the names themselves are based off of Naoko’s real family.1 Though the kanji is likely different, it seems that Kenji, Ikuko, and Shingo are all based on the Takeuchi family.

However, not all is lost for subtle references to rabbits and the moon, at least when it comes to the anime!

Ikuko and Usagi's unique hairstyle

Ikuko and Usagi’s unique hairstyle

Though far more pronounced in the anime than in the manga, if you look closely you can see that both Ikuko and Usagi share a common trait in their hairstyle – particularly, that they have a heart-shaped part in the middle of their bangs. This styling of course can also be seen in Queen Serenity, ChibiUsa, and Chibi Chibi as well. So what’s the point?

Crescent Moon Bangs

Crescent Moon Bangs

Well, it’s not actually a heart-shaped parting in her bangs, but actually two crescent moons facing each other, which gives the appearance of a heart.

While the effect may be subtle, it’s much easier to see when highlighted, as shown here. Ikuko’s hair style varies a bit from episode to episode and is a little less pronounced in the Sailor Moon Crystal anime, but if you look closely, you can definitely see that the two-moon hair style is the same across all of the versions.

Even if Queen Serenity is considered Sailor Moon’s true mother and Ikuko is her mother only through reincarnation, it’s nice to know that Ikuko still has her place in connecting to Usagi!

Moving onto Kenji, well, I’m afraid that unfortunately he doesn’t really seem to play a big part in the series (which isn’t uncommon for fathers in anime/manga, I suppose), so other than the connection to Ms. Takeuchi’s own family, there’s not much to go off of here.

Shingo the Bunny Man

Shingo the Bunny Man

The good news, though, is that Shingo isn’t without his own interesting reference!

Though not directly tied to the moon at first glance, if you take a look at his name tag (which he’s required to wear going to, from, and in school in lieu of a uniform), you’ll notice two little round bits on top of his last name, 月野 (tsukino). This is consistent throughout the first season of the anime, at least, and always appears on his name tag. So what is it?

Much like the odango hairstyle that Usagi uses, these two little circles on top of the moon kanji character are meant to be reminiscent of bunny ears, which ties back into the traditional Asian legend of there being a rabbit on the moon (and the inspiration for Usagi’s name in the first place).2 Now, why Shingo would want to draw rabbit ears, in honor of his sister, on his name tag in the first place is beyond me, but I guess we can assume he has a soft spot in his heart for his sister anyway.

It’s really unfortunate that Usagi’s family really took a back seat as the series progressed in order to make room for more characters, but I suppose it was necessary when you consider that new characters were being added and also needed time in the lime light.

All the same, though, it’s nice to know that the anime producers took the time to at least put in these extra little details for the fans to catch! Yet another little bit of trivia that makes Sailor Moon fun to watch over and over again.

 

What Do the Colors on Sailor Moon’s Brooch Mean?

Sailor Moon's Transformation Brooch

Sailor Moon’s Transformation Brooch

I’d like to thank a reader for sending this in because, I have to admit, that it the colors used in Sailor Moon’s brooch were just so natural that I never bothered to question it. But when you stop and take a look, you can’t help but wonder if there’s any method to the madness, any sort of order behind how Ms. Takeuchi arranged the colors as why. More specifically, the question posed is as follows:

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What is the Inspiration for the Spiral Heart Moon Rod?

The Spiral Heart Moon Rod

The Spiral Heart Moon Rod

Throughout her time as a sailor-suited soldier of love and justice, dedicating her days to boring school work and evenings to punishing evil in the name of the moon, Sailor Moon has gone through quite a few different magical items and all manners of attacks. While I’m personally a fan of the traditional Moon Stick, which I think we can all agree has a pretty lackluster name, the inspiration behind the Spiral Heart Moon Rod is fascinating in its own right.

What makes the Spiral Heart Moon Rod so interesting is that its design, like the designs of other important items in the Sailor Moon canon, appears to be based on a real rod – a scepter1 – in the possession of the British Royal Family. Specifically, I’m referring to the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross,2 part of the coronation regalia of the British monarchy.

The Sovereign's Scepter with Cross and Spiral Heart Moon Rod

The Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross and Spiral Heart Moon Rod

In addition to the remarkable similarities in their general appearance, which is pretty convincing in its own, it’s also noteworthy that the Sovereign’s Scepter contains within it Cullinan I,3 the clearest cut diamond in the world – not too dissimilar from the legendary Silver Crystal itself! The curving lines reminiscent of a heart, the crown design on top, and the crystal embedded within all make this a pretty convincing basis for the design.

Cullinan I

Cullinan I

Taking into consideration that the talismans were also based on Western designs, it seems pretty fitting to me that Ms. Takeuchi would choose such a famous item from the crown jewels to use as the basis for her design. It also ties in nicely with her role as heir to the Silver Millennium and the future Neo-Queen of Crystal Tokyo.

Since we know that Ms. Takeuchi incredibly well-informed and clearly did a lot of research into various crystals, I think it would definitely be worthwhile to take a closer look at some of the broaches throughout the seasons, or maybe some of the other various sticks, wands, and scepters wielded by Sailor Moon. Just seeing something real that looks so similar really gives you a sense for just how impressive her attacks must have looked to the enemies she faces.

But what about you? What was your favorite of her weapons, and why? I’ve always loved the simplicity of the Moon Stick and how it even evolved once the Silver Crystal was added to it, but that’s just me. I’d love to hear other people’s opinions!

What’s So Super About Super Sailor Moon?

Transforming Into Super Sailor Moon

Transforming Into Super Sailor Moon

Depending on how you take it, this question could either be existential, painfully obvious, a bizarre linguistics mystery, or an interesting mix of all three. Just to be clear, we’re not actually discussing the relative power of Sailor Moon’s attacks or why the series is called Sailor Moon in the first place, but rather what was the reason for having her powered up form being called “Super Sailor Moon.” Couldn’t she just power up without needing a new name?

She's not just good, she's super!

She’s not just good, she’s super!

Well, as with a lot of things in Japanese media, answering this question requires us to take a look back at the social and historical context that the Sailor Moon series was created in. As original and unique as the series is, and as much work as Ms. Takeuchi put in to make such a rich and diverse world for her characters to live within, the series was still greatly impacted by the pop culture of the country it was founded in.

You see, throughout the mid- to late-1980s and into the 1990s, Japan had something of a love affair with the word “super,” not much unlike how “x-treme” (and various variations thereon) became synonymous with sports, soft drinks, and pretty much any product or TV show marketed to anyone under the age of 30 in the US from the late 1990s and early 2000s.1 Japan’s (…bubble) economy was going strong,2 and the word “super” seems to have been picked up by marketers to show how their product was new and improved.

The most obvious example that you’re probably all aware of is the upgrade from the Famicom/Nintendo to the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo, but this goes back much earlier. Following the Nintendo connection, the sequel/upgrade to the smash hit “Mario Bros.” was “Super Mario Bros.”3 But as we’re about to see, characters being “leveled up” so-to-speak isn’t the only way that the word super had infected Japanese culture.

1988 Commercial for Asahi Super Dry

1988 Commercial for Asahi Super Dry

In 1987 the Asahi Beer company, wanting to expand their business from a paltry 10% of the Japanese beer market, launched the Asahi Super Dry product line. This sparked off what is known as the “Dry Wars” among Japanese beer producers,4 who were all trying to capture the budding dry beer5 market.

Other noteworthy examples include the Super Saiyan form6 in Dragon Ball Z in 1991, the Super-VHS video standard7 introduced in 1987, and the proposed upgrade to the floppy disk – the so-called SuperDisk8 – in 1997. Taking a look at anime titles alone, you can see the trend pretty clearly:9

So what does this all mean, then? Essentially what this means is that during this particular time in Japan, the word “super” was a popular marketing buzz word used to convey to the audience that this was a new, upgrade, improved version of a previous product. That’s not to say that the concept didn’t exist in the west – Superman predates this marketing buzz in Japan by nearly half a century. But what’s interesting about all this is that, taken as a whole, what Ms. Takeuchi was trying to emphasizing by powering Usagi (and, later, the rest of the Sailor Soldiers) up into her Super form.

A Survivor of the Dry Wars

A Survivor of the Dry Wars

Taking into consideration how deeply this was all affected by the words, language, and other series and products out at the time, it makes me wonder what the upgraded form of Sailor Moon would’ve been called if the series came out today? Mega like in Pokémon?10 Though I’m a fan of the Super and Eternal forms, I’d love to know how things would’ve changed if the series had been made today!

Did Usagi’s Height Change as Sailor Moon Progressed?

Does Usagi ever get taller?

Does Usagi ever get taller?

If we were talking about the real world, of course it would be silly to ask the question of whether or not a second-year junior high school girl grew taller as she got older, but we’re talking about an anime/manga where characters have all manners of hair colors and are named after rabbits, so nothing should be taken for granted. For the sake of convenience, we’re going to be restricting our discussion today to only the anime since the manga both lacks the hard numbers that we need and also tends to be a little bit more liberal in the character designs from scene to scene. But for the purposes of our discussion – namely, whether Usagi actually grew physically (though emotionally is another story!) throughout the series – we should have more than enough information to answer that.

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How Are the Three Talismans Connected to the Japanese Emperor?

The Three Talismans

The Three Talismans

Due to the very nature of the names of the planets and their connections to astrology, it’s fairly obvious why Ms. Takeuchi and the directors of the Sailor Moon anime used a lot of Greco-Roman mythology in the creation of the characters and universe. That’s why it comes as a bit of surprise that suddenly they would take a turn to an interesting mix of Christian, in the form of the Holy Grail,1 and Japanese, in the form of the three talismans, when creating the story behind the Death Busters story arc. Though the story of the Holy Grail is pretty well known in the west (indeed, there’s even a popular comedy2 written about it), the story behind the three talismans is much less well known. So what exactly are they, and how do they tie into the story?

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