Admit it, with just these six words, you probably finished the rest of the sentence in your head. Sailor Moon’s self-referential catchphrase is so famous that even the casual fan of the series would probably be able to finish it.
While the catchphrases of the other Sailor Soldiers may be less well known — though I’m sure their fans would be willing to disagree! — the stories behind them are no less interesting.
Today we’re going to talk about who came up with Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars’s catchphrases and what they almost were instead!
While doing my background research for this article, I tried looking around the internet for the “official” translations of the witty one-liners Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars throw out as they enter into field of battle, but I’m afraid I didn’t have any luck — and the translations I did find were pretty unimpressive.
Sorry, you’ll be dealing with my translations throughout.1
So what phrases are we talking about? Glad you asked!
- Sailor Mercury
- I am the sailor-suited soldier of intelligence and justice – Sailor Mercury!
Douse yourself and reflect on what you’ve done!
- Sailor Mars
- I am the sailor-suited soldier of courage and justice – Sailor Mars!
By the power of Mars, I will chastise you!
As it turns out, these phrases were actually thought up by fans of the anime and chosen by Iriya Azuma,2 a producer of the Sailor Moon anime.
In the April 1992 issue of Animage, the magazine held a contest together with the animation staff to submit new ideas, phrases, weapons, and even enemies to appear later in the anime.
The contest was so popular that they even launched a second one in the June issue, asking users to think of ideas for special attacks for “these three characters… or maybe even a fourth or fifth!”, hinting for the first time that there may be other Sailor Soldiers on the way.
So who’s to credit for these ideas? Three Animage readers, actually!
The “I am the sailor-suited…!” parts of their speeches and the words “intelligence” and “courage” were suggested by an Aiko Kudo from Hokkaido. Sailor Mars’s “By the power of Mars…” and Sailor Mercury’s “Douse yourself and reflect…” were sent in by Ryohei Kuramochi of Kanagawa and Miyuki Numabukuro of Chiba, respectively.
According to the director, these phrases were chosen and re-arranged from hundreds of submissions, and were ultimately incorporated into the anime from around August of 1992.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this statement is that it implies that the anime was already at least two or three months ahead at that point. I wonder how far Ms. Takeuchi had already worked ahead too, then?
Anyway! Apparently Mr. Azuma wasn’t the only one who had a say in voting on these Sailor Moon ideas – Kotono Mitsuishi,3 Usagi’s voice actress, also had a vote in the various story ideas and sent in by fans.
Though she was ultimately overruled, her vote for Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars’ catchphrases were:
- Sailor Mercury – Kiyoshi Sano (Kyoto)
- Your scheme is as hopeless as a bubble!
- Sailor Mars – Eri Kodama (Nagano)
- I’ll torch you with my flames and send you to the next life!
I don’t know about you, but I kinda like these a little bit better. With Rei, this was a little more aggressive and to the point – which I like – but I can kinda see how it didn’t fit in with the “private school girl with sophisticated tastes in men” image the anime staff was going for her.
There’s a lot more in this magazine to discuss later, especially with some of the hints the anime staff and contest organizers were dropping for future Sailor Moon developments. I have several more magazines I need to order, but hopefully I can bring more of this behind-the-scenes development information to you soon.
With that said, I’m curious what your opinions are on this. Do you think the phrases they chose suit the characters better, or do you think Kotono was on the right track? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- For what it’s worth, I almost never use the “official” translations on this blog. They change often, I don’t usually like them, and I’d rather talk about the source, not a translation. ↩
- See Iriya Azuma (Wikipedia) ↩
- See Kotono Mitsuishi (Wikipedia) ↩
12 thoughts on “Who Came Up With Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars’s Catchphrases?”
Hmm…I’m fine with what they went with for Mercury.
As for Mars, both of them work. Though I like the ‘chastise’ bit more (wasn’t there something about her high heels?)
I’m somewhat amused by the idea of Usagi not getting her way with choosing her teammates catchphrases.
Though it’s suddenly occurred (and correct me if I’m wrong) to me, that Jupiter never got one in the original anime.
I’m wondering if that’s because they never held such a competition for her, or never got round to thinking one up.
By the way, I like how you’ve showed them in shots together. I quite enjoyed the rapport between those two in the early half of Classic.
I have a fondness for the original trio setup.
They did hold a second contest – and I’m still trying to track down copies of the magazine. You’d be surprised (or maybe not…) how hard it is to find information on 25 year old magazines. =p
I’m at least lucky in that I live in Japan.
Anyway, the second contest was held before Jupiter and Venus were announced, so unless there was a third, their phrases would have had to be chosen in a different way.
As much as I love the original five, I do agree that I think the three of them had a great dynamic. In particular, I loved the episode at Yume Land where the three of them go investigating, when they end up on the cruise ship, or the whole fiasco with Princess D. I feel like there was a lot less of that sort of Scooby Doo-style team dynamic once it ballooned to five members.
Jupiter’s actually was in episode 123 (Inners vs Cyprine/Ptilol), the one they used for Crystal, translation being “I’ll shock you so much you’ll regret it!” according to my old Pioneer translation of it.
Thank you for your hard work on this! I love how your blog is so detailed AND NEW for an anime so popular, so “old” and with so much information on the Internet. Thanks again!
Thanks! I’m always happy to hear that people actually enjoy reading this these rambling posts I put up online. The series may be 25 years old, but it always amazes me how the deeper you dig, the more there is to find.
It’s a shame you aren’t the official translator for Sailor Moon, since I prefer your translation of their iconic phrases.
As for what we got vs Kotono’s picks, I’m mixed. I think Kotono’s pick for Mars is better. It’s so badass! But I actually prefer Mercury’s in-show speech to Kotono’s pick. The bubble one isn’t bad, but it isn’t as intimidating. Which I suppose fits Mercury’s character more, but Kotono’s pick feels kind of self-depreciating. (with how Mercury’s bubbles rarely do more than make fog for strategic purposes in the first season)
You know, that’s true – I didn’t think about the self-deprecating factor in her vote for Mercury’s phrase. Referring to bubbles as being so pathetically weak really doesn’t give Ami much of a leg to stand on, now does it? =p
Very interesting, I never thought that these were fan choices at all. I prefer Ami’s actual show speech, the other one makes it like it’s kinda mocking her attack 😛
Mars’ original idea is cool though.
It’s nice that they actually gave fans a chance to have real-world input on how the show developed, though I’m kinda disappointed they didn’t seem to take any of the storylines seriously…
I think they are great the way they are. That is so neat though, thanks for sharing.
Curious why you chose not to translate the “Bishoujo,” part. I’d render it as “Beautiful Soldier in a Sailor Suit,” or “Pretty Sailor-Suited Soldier.”
I didn’t hear before this that the catchphrases were chosen by fans. That is interesting.
However, what I have heard before is that Mar’s catchphrase comes across odd to the average Japanese, as the word is more like scolding a child. I thought of the translation, “I’ll discipline you,” to really capture it. Of course, I like chastise better. I’m a bit torn as to whether I might have preferred the translation to capture that nuance. I’m generally fine with small changes to make things sound less corny to English speakers, particuliarly when the original was English or foreign to begin with… but this was in Japanese.
I remember hearing the word “chastise” can also be understood as “spank,” according to a translated comment by an announcer on a show where celebrities used to cover the top songs of the week. (The Myu cast covered “Swimming,” though I forget the artist/