I’m sure you must have figured this out by now, but I absolutely love trivia — the tinier the detail, the better. Anything I can learn to extract just a little more detail about the world of Sailor Moon is awesome to me, because it helps make the story all the more “real.”
Even more so than that, learning these tiny little details helps keep this series fresh. Despite having watched and read through the various misadventures of the Sailor Soldiers countless times already, every time I learn some new little bit of information, I want to go back through the story and see if it changes how I view the characters.
In the interest of shedding a little light1 on Sailor Moon‘s fifth and final season, today we’re going to talk about the Three Lights — Seiya, Yaten, and Taiki — and the inspirations behind their names. If you’re also a huge fan of boy bands that are actually girls bands in disguise, then you’re going to want to stick around for this one!
Just to be clear, when we’re talking about the Three Lights’ names, there are actually three names that we need to look at here for each of the characters:
- a first name;
- a last name; and
- a Sailor Starlight name
Today we’ll actually only be taking a look at 1 and 2 here (their first and last names in “human” form) and I’ll be saving 3 for a later date, since that’s going to be a far more intense article.
Interestingly enough, the discussion over their first and last names isn’t quite as easy as you’d assume it to be, due to a little issue we have in how fans refer to the characters. While fans in both Japan and the West tend to refer to the characters by their first names (e.g., Naru, Unazuki, Motoki, Haruna, etc.), there are certain characters that for one reason or another are almost exclusively referred to by their last names (e.g., Umino, Urawa, Amano, Wakagi, etc.).2
The Three Lights happen to fall into this latter category, but that’s due to the simple fact that they all have the same first name. So the proper name order for the Three Lights (in First Last name order) is: Kou Seiya, Kou Yaten, and Kou Taiki.
Though fans are mostly clear on this issue now, for years there were bizarre “facts” running around about how these three were brothers, almost as if they were some sort of Japanese Hanson tribute band.3 In reality, it’s quite the opposite. They’re three unrelated young men (… or women) who all happen to have the same first name. A first name that, by the way, means “light.”4
The characters we know as Seiya, Yaten, and Taiki are three boys (… or girls) named Light. Or, put another way, they are three Lights.
Thus explaining where the band name for the Three Lights comes from!
So what we’re left now with is explaining away where their last names come from, which is fortunately not all that bad… kinda.
The name “Seiya” (星野) consists of the kanji for star (星) and plain/field (野), meaning a plain or field of stars, i.e., a star-filled sky. This seems like it makes enough sense at first glance, so I’d say I’m fine with this one.
The name “Yaten” (夜天) is itself a normal word that appears in dictionaries, meaning “night sky.”5 Not a lot of mystery here!
The name “Taiki” (大気) is not only also a word you’d encounter in a dictionary, but it’s actually a fairly common one at that. Meaning
“he who has a giant forehead” “atmosphere,”6 this is the most puzzling name of the group. While I can totally see Starlight connection with the field of stars (Seiya) and night sky (Yaten), this whole atmosphere connection is a bit out of left field.
… or does it? The names actually make a lot more sense when taken in context of their full names (in last, first order), much like those of the rest of the Sailor Soldiers:
- 星野光 (seiyakou)7 = the lights of the stars and nebula; a star field
- 夜天光 (yatenkou)8 = the light seen in the night sky on a moonless night
- 大気光 (taikikou)9 = the light given off by the upper atmosphere, otherwise known as an airglow10
I have to hand it to Ms. Takeuchi for her ability to give her characters creative names that not only suit their personalities in the stories, but also manage to fit in some meaningful puns while she’s at it. Not only are they members of a band named “Three Lights,” but they’re literally named after three types of light that you can observe in the night sky.
In case you ever found yourself wondering where the Three Lights’ got their names, why they all have the same first name, or just what the heck was going on with Taiki’s last name, I hope this helped shed a little light11 on the matter for you!
As for the Starlights’ names (Star Fighter, Star Healer, and Star Maker), that is unfortunately a bit more of a complicated matter and something I’ll have to save for another article. In the mean time, however, if you have any theories on where these names come from (or especially a theory on what inspired the names of their attacks!), I’d love to hear from you down below!!
- See what I did there? Pun totally intended. ↩
- Technically, the latter two characters are from Codename: Sailor V, but I’m willing to count it for the sake of this example ↩
- See Hanson (Wikipedia) ↩
- 光 = kou = light; see 光 (Jisho.org) ↩
- See 夜天 (Jisho.org) ↩
- See 大気 (Jisho.org) ↩
- See 星野光 ↩
- See 夜天光 ↩
- See 大気光 ↩
- See Airglow (Wikipedia) ↩
- Pun still intended ↩