To all the Super Sailor Moon super fans out there, let me first apologize for the how seemingly obvious the question seems to be. Off hand, the Silver Millennium is the time in which the empire ran, and the Moon Kingdom is the empire itself.
But I wouldn’t be here today talking about this if the answer was so simple, now would I?
Stick around, because we have some interesting stories to tell today!
Of course, I think the million dollar question that we all wish we could answer about the Silver Millennium is: “When did the Silver Millennium take place?”
But, unfortunately, neither the Sailor Moon anime nor manga give us enough information to even begin looking at that question, so we’ll have to settle for it’s less popular — but similarly intriguing — cousin of what the Silver Millennium itself actually is.
… or was. Whatever.
In order for us to figure out where these two are differ, let’s talk a look at the implications of each.
First off, the Moon Kingdom!
Now, one thing has always bothered me about the Moon Kingdom: when you actually stop and look at it, it’s not a kingdom at all — it’s actually an empire.
So, for those of you who didn’t make questionable life choices and major in history, the really simple explanation is that a kingdom is generally one nation that is ruled by a monarch (be it king or queen) while an empire usually consists of multiple nations (or even kingdoms, etc.) which are ruled by a single monarch.1
Incidentally, the Japanese emperor is actually closer to a “king,” but due to convention we use the term emperor. That’s a long story but fun to read up on.2
Judging by the fact that we have an Earth Kingdom and implied kingdoms for every other planet (which we can infer from each of the Sailor Soldiers later being referred to as their “princess” selves), and the fact that these are all ruled by the Moon Kingdom, I think that’s a pretty good reason to call it the Moon Empire.
What about the Silver Millennium?
Well, as anyone who lived through the Dark Days of the Y2K Bug can tell you, a millennium is 1,000 years.3 That would mean that the Silver Millennium was either awfully optimistic, in that they assumed they’d be around for a whole 1,000 years, or fatalistic, in that they assumed that they’ve only got a good 1,000 years in them before being toppled.
This is especially important because we know that the term “Silver Millennium” was actually in use during the Silver Millennium. So for better or for worse, Queen Serenity was pretty committed to this 1,000 year timeline.
The best argument we can make is that since the people of the Moon were said to have a 1,000 year life span, she was just being realistic about how long until all her subjects were dead. This argument gets really complicated when you start to ask questions of whether or not every subject of the Moon
Kingdom Empire lives to exactly 1,000 years old, and if new children are actually being born (who, in turn, have 1,000 year lives). So we’ll stop while we’re ahead.
Now that we established what the Moon Kingdom and Silver Millennium should be it’s time to look out how the series actually treats them.
The simple answer is, sadly, that the Japanese text refers to the empire on the moon as the “Silver Millennium,” making it more of a fanciful name for an empire and not a dynasty name or anything of the sort in reference for when the Moon Family ruled.
When Queen Serenity — or at least her hologram — first appears in the manga, she refers to herself as the “Queen of the Silver Millennium.”4 Later on, when the Sailor Soldiers are shown keeping an eye on Princess Serenity, Sailor Mercury chastises her and tells Serenity that she is the heir to the throne for the Silver Millennium, so she needs to study.5
What does this all mean?
Basically, these two things are one in the same, meaning that the empire ruled by the Moon dynasty is, in fact, known as the Silver Millennium. Incidentally, the live action Sailor Moon show did away with the concept of the Silver Millennium entirely, and instead referred to it only as the Moon Kingdom (月の王国; tsuki no oukoku).
Personally, I wish we had more background on the past and future of the Sailor Moon universe, since there are so many unanswered questions that actually have a lot of impact on the story itself. Why is it called the Silver Millennium in the first place? Just to connect to the Silver Crystal? And don’t get me started on that lifespan issue.
So what about you? Do you have any thoughts about how the kingdom, or empire, was structured? I’ve always been interested in if the rest of the Sailor Soldiers are, in fact, “princesses” of their own domains as we’re traditionally think of it, or are they just Lords/Ladies or other nobility without ruling their own kingdoms? I’d love to hear your thoughts!