What Is a Sailor Yell? The Sailor Star Song Explained

A Sailor... Yell??

A Sailor… Yell??

Despite having debuted over 25 years ago, Moonlight Densetsu still consistently ranks in the top 100 songs played in karaoke.1 While it may be the pride and joy of the Sailor Moon fandom, there’s always been a special place in my heart for its oft-forgotten younger sibling, Sailor Star Song.

The song is probably best remembered for setting the dramatically different tone of Sailor Moon‘s fifth and final season, as well as for… well… bordering on being nonsensical.

But today I hope to change that.

Though I may not be able to explain what makes this song so awesome, I hope to at least shed a little light about the story Ms. Takeuchi was trying to tell through her lyrics.

Read on as we discuss just what’s involved in a good, proper Sailor Yell, and how you can give one too!

Sailor Moon ponders the meaning of the universe

Sailor Moon ponders the meaning of the universe

As I’ve mentioned in some of my past song dissections, the challenge with discussing music in another language is twofold:

First off, music — be it English, Spanish, Japanese, or any other language — isn’t always written with proper grammar in mind and is rarely concerned about providing context. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience where you’ve debated with friends about just what message a song is trying to convey and, even in your native language, you all came to different conclusions.2

That leads nicely into the second issue: the need to rely on a translation.

Even in the best case scenario where a given media (manga, anime, music, etc.) has been worked on by a professional translator, it’s possible (even likely) for two professionals to arrive at slightly different nuanced conclusions. This problem is exasperated with fan translations because many of these translators are often early in the Japanese-learning career and don’t yet have a full grasp of the language.

That’s not to say that all fan translations are bad, of course. Some actually are done by professional translators, and even those that aren’t are still amazing passion projects. But sometimes what you’re getting is the equivalent to throwing caution to the winds of Google Translation. And no one wants that.

We will discuss Galaxia's regret-less Sailor Eyes shortly

We will discuss Galaxia’s regret-less Sailor Eyes shortly

Let’s just say that the Sailor Star Song translation floating around on the internet is… umm… not the best?3 So I’m just going to completely ignore it and go off the Japanese.4

A recurring theme in the song is the singer (Usagi?) introducing her various Sailor ______:

  • Sailor Smile
  • Sailor Wing
  • Sailor Yell
  • Sailor Star
  • Sailor Eyes5
  • Sailor Wind

I suppose it’s rather fitting in a season about the absurd number of Sailor Senshi in the galaxy, but I digress.

Since there’s a lot to unpack here, I’ll just be focusing on these key elements in our analysis of the song. It’s a great, inspirational song in general, but for our purposes, I think we’re okay limiting it to just these.

So without further ado, let’s get going!

(Please note that the following are not translations, but explanations of the lyrics)

かなしみが いま セーラースマイル
奇跡をおこすの セーラーウィング
だれだって かがやく星を持つ
まけない!あしたへ セーラーエール
ゼッタイ!つかまえる! セーラースター
このちかい とどけ 銀河まで

Your sadness has been replaced by this Sailor Smile.
These Sailor Wings can bring about miracles.
Everyone out there, no matter who they are, has a glimmering star.
Don’t give up! Give out a Sailor Yell for tomorrow!
You’ll get that Sailor Star!
We’ll bring this promise to the ends of the galaxy itself.

This is all pretty straightforward, except for the question that we started out asking in the very beginning: just what the heck is a Sailor Yell?

The problem is that while it uses the English word “yell,” the Japanese nuance is more closely tied to a less-common use of the word:6

yell (noun)

2: a usually rhythmic cheer used especially in schools or colleges to encourage athletic teams

So a “Sailor Yell,” my friends, is a chant of sorts that you give to cheer on someone. In this case, cheering someone on to continue fighting the good fight on into tomorrow so that they can finally get that Sailor Star that lives within them. And we’ll continue to do that until we make sure that everyone in the galaxy has done so.

後悔はしない セーラーアイズ
あなたについてく セーラーウィンド
この歌は 星の道しるべ
まけない!あしたへ セーラーエール
ゼッタイ!みつけるよ! セーラースター
天使の羽で とびたつの

Your Sailor Eyes show no regret.
The Sailor Wind will follow along with you.
This song will lead us to the stars.
Don’t give up! Give out a Sailor Yell for tomorrow!
You’ll get that Sailor Star!
Take flight on your angel wings.

Nothing really too out of the ordinary or worth commenting on here, except for possibly the note on the Sailor Eyes. Though the Japanese is vague, the general impression is that you’re keeping your eyes (figuratively speaking) on the future and your goals, and not wasting your time feeling regret.

I don’t think they’re saying that Usagi is like Jason from Friday the 13th and has cold, regret-less Sailor Eyes.7

Last one!

苦しさが いま セーラーアイズ
奇跡をおこすの セーラーウィング
だれだって 運命の星を持つ
まけない!あしたへ セーラーエール
ゼッタイ!つかまえる! セーラースター
このちかい とどけ 銀河まで

Focus your Sailor Eyes away from the pain.
These Sailor Wings can bring about miracles.
Everyone out there, no matter who they are, has a star of fate.
Don’t give up! Give out a Sailor Yell for tomorrow!
You’ll get that Sailor Star!
We’ll bring this promise to the ends of the galaxy itself.

There are only two lines different here, but I figured I’d include them for the sake of being thorough. Not much to say, though, other than the reference to pain and the star of fate.

That's nice, but what does it actually MEAN?

That’s nice, but what does it actually MEAN?

Keeping in mind that I’m hardly a creative person and am the last person you should ask about artistic interpretation, my best explanation for the song is as follows:

Essentially, the Sailor Star Song is about the challenges you have and will continue to face on your journey toward helping everyone find their true selves. However, despite that you have a long and difficult road ahead of you, the many aspects of being a Sailor will support you.

At least that’s my take on it. What’s yours? And, while we’re at it, are there any other Sailor Moon songs that you’d like to take a deeper dive into? It’s a lot of fun actually dissecting the lyrics to these songs that I’ve been listening to for decades!

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  1. Ranked number 56 of all anime songs at Karaoke no Tetsujin as of August 2018
  2. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the “storytelling rap” style of music that was included in practically every kids’ movie in the late 80s and early 90s. I’m looking at you, Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap”
  3. See Sailor Star Song Lyrics (English)
  4.  See Sailor Star Song Lyrics (Japanese)
  5. Why suddenly plural??
  6. See Yell, Entry 2/2, No. 2
  7. Probably…

17 thoughts on “What Is a Sailor Yell? The Sailor Star Song Explained

  1. Really interesting to read your take on this song.

    “Sailor Star Song” is my favourite song of all time, not just from Sailor Moon but in general. I remember how powerful and empowering it felt when I heard it for the first time on TV as a kid. It truly pains me that we know nothing about Kae Hanazawa (or the real artist behind this stage name) since her voice is absolutely perfect for this song. When she sings “Don’t give up!” It sound just as dramatic and meaningful as Usagi’s desperate “Crisis Makeup!” From episode 125, you can really feel the emotions there.

    I always wanted to convey the message of this song without making it literal so a few years back I came up with a very loose translation: https://youtu.be/tDDKblfI76E

    I wanted to translate the song in a way that anyone would understand what it’s about even if they have never heard about a “Sailor Soldier/Guardian/Scout” because for me “Sailor Star Song” is not just a song about Sailor Soldiers. It’s about anyone who needs encouragement in a moment of doubt. For me it’s a song about getting up and fighting for your dreams or loved one even when when it seems impossible.

    (yes, I know I read too much into it haha but I do believe it’s a one of a kind song).

    • While I love Moonlight Densetsu and think it does a great job at capturing the feeling of Sailor Moon’s first season, I really think that it started to lose touch with the series as Usagi grew stronger as a character. She is no longer that same insecure young girl, but an empowered young woman, and I don’t think that Moonlight Densetsu captures that correctly.

      At least that’s what I really love about Sailor Star Song. I think it does a better job showing that inner strength.

      • ~Spoilers Ahead~

        I completely agree. I think a great example of what you’re talking about is comparing the first story arc to the last story arc. The first story arc focuses a lot more on her romance with Tuxedo Mask and it’s a lot more fun and generally magical feeling. I always think of the famous umbrella image when I think of this arc. The last arc, however, is a lot darker and takes place on a much more epic scale. In the manga, the final battle even takes place at the very center of the Milky Way where stars are born. Compare that to the battle in Anarctica in the Dark Kingdom arc. So, Moonlight Densetsu really fit that magical, romantic, midnight in Tokyo feeling of the first arc, but definitely by about the Infinity arc, the series need something different because of the darker tone the series had moved towards.

    • Off the top of my head, I’d still argue that it’s a Twinkle Cheer of sorts. Ringing the bell, getting into the team spirit, etc.

      In contrast with Dead Scream.

  2. I’ve always rationalized it as a call to the viewer to be included with the events of the show and interactively yell out whenever they see fit to send energy to the guardians to help make them stronger, usually not indicated visually but by the pattern of the attacks or pacing I suppose. The show was marketed for young kids, and kids love to play pretend, so that’s what I figure. I think yell = a call of some kind, either to call the guardians to help them do better, or to call pegasus. Limitations of not having phones I guess, and also a stretch of what Engrish could be.

  3. I always sort of guessed that’s what it meant. Whatever bad translations are being used, it’s something about giving out a yell for a particular cause. Sounds like it’s referring to a cheer to me… probably a cheer meant for our heroes in the show.

    I guess it could mean a battle cry, or a yell of exertion during a battle… but those are pretty similar things too.

    I didn’t occur to me that it could refer to their transformation phrases. The word “yell” just sounds more like a cheer to me, and less like those phrases where I would use words like “call out” or “proclaim” or something.

    On a side note…

    > (Please note that the following are not translations, but explanations of the lyrics)

    I appreciate how you worded that part. There’s an important difference between those two things.

    • Translating lyrics requires a certain mastery over creative expression — something I really don’t have. And honestly, creatively translating the lyrics kind of forces you to choose between something pleasant-sounding (but less accurate) or something accurate (but reads like garbage).

      But mostly I include that notice because I know someone out there will complain. =p

  4. I always had strange thoughts about the Sailor Eyes, Sailor Yell and Sailor Wings from this lyrics.
    Last year I was able to ask a Japanese person about the lyrics of this song, I showed the song to him and then I asked his interpretation. He is not a Sailor Moon fan, and he has only heard about it because it’s so popular, but never watched.
    He told me it’s a song about overcoming challenges and have a positive thinking.
    I asked him if it was strange to hear “Sailor Eyes” or “Sailor Wings” in the lyrics.
    He told me: “Not at all”, because it is empowering the lyrics and any Japanese can understand the meaning, because “Sailor” makes the song more powerful. I don’t remember exactly what else he said, but next time I will ask him again.

    The thing is that Japanese is a totally different language than English or Spanish. It’s impossible to translate, only to reinterpret.

  5. Something I’d love to see an article on now that SuperS has been released in full again is a discussion on Queen Nehellenia.

    In the manga it is implied in Stars that she is akin to Metallia, Death Phantom, Pharaoh 90 and Chaos.
    But she is quite different than any of these beings.
    For one, she doesn’t seem quite as cosmic to me. And even though towards the end she kind of goes all scary and big, she starts out seeming closer to her anime counterpart which is definitely someone more along the lines of Beryl than Metallia.

    Could it be that she was possessed by something beyond the mirror that was more akin to Chaos and that she really was a human? Or was she something that always existed just to parallel the Queen of the Moon?

  6. I loved the song since I first heard it, and was curious to know more about the singer credited for the song ” Kae Hanazawa” since it’s an incredibly difficult song to sing and she does an excellent job. It’s pretty evident that it’s a pseudonym, because there’s literally no information about her online aside from 2 songs from the final season of SM.

    • Yeah, I find it so weird that no one has ever come forward about the stage name Kae Hanazawa, or that no magazine has let the information slip.
      My guess is that she must be in the same camp as all the others (Nyanko Kurabu, Moon Lips, the SM Musicals) and be signed on by the same studio, but I just can’t figure out why they didn’t credit her under her real name.

      There is absolutely no way she was a no-name artist picked to sing the new Sailor Moon theme.

  7. This might be apropos of nothing, but in last year’s PreCure series (directed by SatoJun) the magical girls had French names: Cure Ange, Cure Etoile, Cure Ma-Cherie, Cure Amour, and…..Cure Yell! Obviously this last one doesn’t fit the motif, but fans have speculated that “yell” (エール) is, in fact, a pun on the French “aile” (wing). Could there be a similar thing going on in the Sailor Star Song, which references angel wings throughout?

    • Huh, now that’s definitely interesting!

      However, considering that the song references both “Sailor Yell” and “Sailor Wing” in the lyrics, though, I’d have to guess it’s probably not related in the case of Sailor Moon. But it definitely could be in PreCure!

  8. Actually, the singer of “Makenai!” is the Japanese VA of Sailor Galaxia, Mitsuko Horie.
    Which imo, shows the feeling of Galaxia deep within Galaxia.. I mean… her inner, innocent-self, waiting to be unleashed but just can’t do anything, so she just cheers from the background.

    With which, if Naoko-san wrote the lyrics and she specifically chose Galaxia’s VA to sing it, pretty much tells something. I think this was a contrast to Galaxia’s Theme Song – Golden Queen which shows her evil side, being possessed by Sailor Chaos or something.

    So I think a Sailor Yell is just a figurative way of cheering and putting Sailor in every word just sounded cool to do.

    • That’s interesting! You’re saying that Mitsuko Horie specifically just says “Makenai!”?

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