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:
“I would like an idea as to why the four ‘gemstones’ on the edge of Sailor Moon’s first brooch … are in the directions they are….”
“I mean why is the ruby north and not east? Why is the topaz/citirne to the east and not north? Sapphire to the south and not west? Emerald to the west and not south?”
From: Mythicall Moon
After taking a look at the myriad of brooches she wore all the way up to her Super Sailor Moon form, it turns out that the locations and colors of the gemstones has been consistent throughout: (from the top and going clockwise) red, yellow/orange, blue, green. I probably don’t need to tell you that the colors represent the other Sailor Soldiers and that the pink gem in the middle is in place of the Moon, but the order is definitely strange.
My first guess would have been that it has something to do with compass directions, much like with the colors of the Four Kings and their Buddhist connection, but as pointed out in the comment, that relationship doesn’t play out well here. The order of appearance of the Sailor Team doesn’t fit either, since that would be Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus. One possible explanation is that it’s the order of the planets from the Sun, starting from the bottom and going counter-clockwise, but that’s probably just coincidence. So, what is going on here?
Well, after doing a little more research, I was able to come up with two possible explanations. The first comes from the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui1 and the idea of arranging your living spaces to find harmony with the metaphysical universe. The bagua map,2 in particular, associates elements with colors and directions, which may have been a possible source for her brooch.
Ignoring for a moment the meanings of the directions, you can see that the colors and elements match pretty well, with fire at the top, Jupiter’s joint representation of lightning and wood to the left, water at the bottom, and… well, marshes to the right (though it also covers metal!). It should also be noted that though this bagua map may appear to be reversed (with south pointing up), this is the traditional way of depicting it.
The other possible explanation comes from kigaku (気学),3 a Japanese style of fortune-telling4 based on the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar5 and the five traditional elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.6
In kigaku, fortune-telling is performed using the elemental relationships (determined through a matter of means, such as the year you were born, or more practical connections to an element) to determine the fortuitous or ruinous connections between people, events, things, and places in their lives. To over-simplify it, it’s something like a five-way rock-paper-scissors. The red lines represent a positive relationship (A gives birth to B; e.g., wood gives birth to fire) while green lines represent negative relationships (A suppresses B; e.g., fire melts metal).
Since the kigaku map is cyclical, there is no start or end to it and it can be represented it any order. Considering only four of the elements represented (the earth element being represented by either Mamoru or Hotaru, depending on who you ask), what happens if we re-draw it with fire at the top and cut out earth?
Though the meaning of the kigaku map is lost if you draw it this way (since the beneficial relationship from fire to earth and the negative relationship of wood to earth is missing), it does at least line up nicely with the colors Ms. Takeuchi chose to use for the brooch.
Ultimately, it’s impossible to say what the original intentions were for why the colors would up the way they did, but I do think it’s fair to say that Ms. Takeuchi is known for giving a lot of meaning to the names of her characters and background of the Sailor Moon universe, so I find it hard to believe that this is purely coincidence. As for which of the two theories I personally believe? I’d say I find the second one more convincing, but that’s mostly because feng shui doesn’t play much of a part in the rest of Sailor Moon while elemental relationships do. But what about you? Which do you think is the more convincing explanation?