What Is the Meaning Behind the Song Moon Revenge?

"That's no moon, it's a..." Sailor Soldier

“That’s no moon, it’s a…” Sailor Soldier

Remember that time that Usagi sang about beautiful corpses, painful tattoos, and wanting to control your lover until every little breath of theirs belongs to you? Of course you do, because how could you possibly forget Moon Revenge, the bizarre ending theme to the Sailor Moon R movie.

But like most things that get lost in translation, these sort of thing can make at least a little more sense when looked at in the proper context. And today, that’s what we’re going to talk about!

If you’ve ever been up late at night fretting over lovely corpses and engraved tattoos, this one’s for you!

Delivery for Ms. Tsukino -- sign here?

Delivery for Ms. Tsukino — sign here?

Before we dive head first into this song analysis, there are two things that I’d like to get out of the way.

First, you should probably know that I have almost zero artistic talent, and am what the Japanese would refer to as a 理系 (rikei; scientifically-minded) person. So asking me to do any sort of art analysis is a bit of a tall order. But I can discuss the context and background!

Second, I don’t really like either of the two translations of Moon Revenge floating around on the internet. However, the one by Kurozuki is the more accurate of the two.1 For the sake of our discussion, though, the actual lyrics aren’t terribly important so it’s not that big of an issue.

With that out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand!

The first thing that would probably catch most people’s attention is the title of the song itself — Moon Revenge. For a series that, up until that point, was full of songs about moonlit destinies, policies and their respective maidens, and other dreamy songs, the jump to revenge is a bit harsh.

Alternative title: Moon Return

Alternative title: Moon Return

So where did that name even come from in the first place?

While I wasn’t able to verify the account with any secondary sources, I did find an old blog post from 2006 by a software developer named Kay that explains how the song got its title.2

According to the blogger:

作詞は冬杜花代子さん。[…] 冬杜さんは、「セーラームーンR」のRの意味が分からず、原作者の武内直子さんに尋ねようとした(原作ではセーラームーンRというシリーズはない)。しかし、敢えて思いとどまり、Revengeという言葉を自分で当てはめた。

The lyrics were written by Kayoko Fuyumori. […] She didn’t know what the “R” in Sailor Moon R was supposed to mean and tried asking Naoko Takeuchi – the manga creator – about it, but there was no Sailor Moon R in the manga. After giving up on that, she decided that it would stand for Revenge.

And who is this Kayoko Fuyumori, you ask? Oh, just quite possibly the most influential lyricist for the Sailor Moon musicals, having written the lyrics for nearly every song from the beginning up through 2000 (with the exception of La Soldier).3 And that’s saying nothing of her active career writing some big J-pop hits from the 1980s through early 2000s.4

The blog continues on to say:

この「Moon Revenge」という歌には「宿命の愛は、逃げても追いかけても、死んですら終わらない。なぜならそれが月の復讐だから」というのがテーマで、美しくも恐ろしい詩でできている。

This song, Moon Revenge, is a beautiful-yet-chilling poem centered around the theme that “no matter if you run, chase, or even die, predestined love will never end – this is the moon’s revenge.”

The author further explains:

幻の銀水晶の力を使ったことで滅びたセーラームーンに衛の「宇宙人の」幼友達フィオレから「生命の水」が与えられ、命を吹き返すが、その刹那、背景に流れた歌の詩が「It’s Moon Revenge」であった。ここでセーラームーンが再び生命を得、また宿命の愛の運命の中に引き戻される。それが月の復讐だ。

Sailor Moon, destroyed from having used the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal, is given the water of life by Mamoru’s childhood friend, the alien Fiore. Right in that instant, when she comes back to life, is where we hear the words “It’s Moon Revenge.” It’s here that Sailor Moon comes back to life, pulled back to her predestined love. THAT is the moon’s revenge.

The implication here is that the Moon Revenge that the title refers to isn’t some sort of malevolent, “time to give them what they have coming,” but rather something far more positive. A second chance.

In fact, in Japanese, the English word “revenge” is often used in the context of having a second chance at something, like getting a low score on the SATs and getting your “revenge” on it, i.e., to try the test again in the hopes of doing better.

Now, as I mentioned, I was unable to confirm the background to the story provided by this blogger and couldn’t back it up with any other sources, so it could be entirely made up. That said, it would be just a tad bizarre for someone to make up a story about a lyricist for a 13 year old song (and before the Sailor Moon resurgence no less!).

Usagi and Mamoru

Usagi and Mamoru

So that’s about…

“Wait!” you, my very astute reader,5 yell angrily into your monitor. “What about Ikuhara?!”

And you’d be right. How could I possibly touch something so deeply Ikuhara-ified as the Sailor Moon R movie without once discussing his take on the subject??

Luckily for us, he actually tweeted his thoughts back in 2010 on the importance of this song in what the cool Twitter kids would now call a “thread.”6

Some highlights:

  • the Moon Revenge scene was something he had to fight constantly for
  • he was especially fixated over the intro to the song, and after it was finished, he went back and decided to do a retake to rearrange and remix the entire scene
  • despite being put under pressure from all sides over this, he was convinced that the Moon Revenge scene was a pivotal part of the movie
  • that guitar noise (gyuuuuun) right at the very beginning was Ikuhara’s idea
  • syncing up the animation perfectly with the song was the make-or-break part of the scene in his mind
Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus Revenge

Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus Revenge

And that brings us to the end of our look into the meaning behind Moon Revenge! I wish I has more locked-in, undeniably-factually-accurate information for you regarding the background to this song, but unfortunately when you’re dealing with something so old and from a time where information was, at best, only available in magazines or other printed media, some things are just lost to time.

That said, what are your thoughts on the song? As weird as the lyrics may be, I personally have always loved it. To me, it’s one of the unfortunately few songs in the Sailor Moon series that depicts the characters as strong, even in the context of romance.

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3 thoughts on “What Is the Meaning Behind the Song Moon Revenge?

  1. I absolutely love this. The supplemental information by Fuyumori sounds legit whether it came from Fuyumori or not. Moon Revenge, to me, is the height of the classic anime, and the most climactic moment in its run. It captivated me from it’s very first musical notes. The actual scene itself is so beautiful while being so heartbreaking that it sends chills every single time I watch it. Usagi, as Princess Serenity, uses the last of her incredible power to the death, preventing an asteroid from falling down upon Japan, and shielding her loves from the cosmic fires of the atmosphere. Here, we really see the immense love and determination she possesses, as well as the feelings of tenderness from the inner Senshi, and Mamoru, that run oceans deep for her. And I always mused about the background of the song and the title itself. I figured the “revenge” part is all about bringing down the incorrect devices of the enemy, making them null and void, even if it means the loss of life. In the end, good triumphs over evil. And for those who believe in and fight for love and justice, that is perhaps the highest form of revenge heroes may aspire to reach.

  2. Objectively, it is pretty much my favorite Sailor Moon song! (Though it’s neck and neck with Moonlight Densetsu, of course.)

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