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!

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  1. You’ve seen Vacation, haven’t you?? See Wagon Queen Family Truckster (Wikipedia)
  2.  See Volkswagen Golf (Wikipedia)
  3.  See the Background Books by Maar
  4. 3.3 million yen; see the sales prices of the VW Golf
  5. See this Infographic on Japanese Car Sales
  6. ~1.3 million yen; see the sales prices of the Toyota Corolla

4 thoughts on “What Kind of Car Did Usagi’s Family Own?

  1. I just love All Your Articles! You noticed even the Tsukino Family Car! Fantastic! I actually had a convo with some other fans from Mamo-chan’s Alfa Romeo, Nephrite’s Ferrari, Haruka’s Cars and the Motorcyles. So while I looked around for some of the vehicle models. I came to find the Ref. Art. The model of the family car based on was probably the “1986 Volkswagen Golf Syncro with Four-wheel drive.” 😉 http://www.settei.net/eng/image.php?pos=635

    • Very interesting! It might very well be the Syncro instead of the GTI, since the cars are nearly identical (The Golf GTI allegedly also even has the Syncro emblem on the glovebox!). The only issue is that it can’t possibly be a 1986 Syncro. The car was only sold in Japan between 1987-1989 (3 years). Maybe the 1987 model? Anyway, thanks for the info, this is really interesting!

      As an aside, other than the fact that the Syncro was 4WD (as opposed to the front-wheel drive GTI), the only external body differences between the GTI and the Syncro were: the grill, the sides of the fender, and the Syncro emblem on the back.

  2. The 1980s VW Golf was also named the VW Rabbit in some markets (such as the USA), which adds another spin. It’s unclear to me if it was named the Golf or Rabbit in Japan, but it is something to keep in mind.

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