Who Sentenced Sailor Pluto to Death?

Oh, Pluto... if only you knew what's coming next

Oh, Pluto… if only you knew what’s coming next

While Sailor Saturn is generally considered by fans to be the most unlucky of the Senshi, personally I’d argue that it’s Setsuna who really got the short end of the Moon Stick.1 Between her unrequited love for a married man, having a non-sensical back story, and getting killed for literally doing her job, it’s not easy being Sailor Pluto.

One thing that’s always bothered me, though, were the circumstances surrounding her death in the Black Moon arc. Why did she die, and who condemned her to death in the first place?

Today we’re going to take a closer look into Sailor Pluto’s so-called “taboos” and how they ended up being placed on her. Make sure your Space-Time doors are fully closed, you’ve had your morning coffee or tea, and let’s get going!

Sailor Pluto, very much not dead

Sailor Pluto, very much not dead

I’m pretty sure that this will come as no surprise to many of you, but for the sake of a brief refresher, let’s go over the basics.

Sailor Pluto is the guardian of the Space-Time Door, where she has stood watch for countless millennia. This also puts her in the unique category of being one of the few denizens of the Moon Kingdom to have lived from the Silver Millennium all the way through to Crystal Tokyo outside of Luna and Artemis.23

While you’d naturally assume that this would give her a lot of leeway to engage in excellent adventures and bogus journeys, unfortunately for her, she’s bound by what’s known as the Three Taboos:

  1. she must not travel through time
  2. she must not abandon her post at the Door
  3. she must never cause time to stop

The first two are “rules” to the extent that covering your mouth when you sneeze is a rule — it’s the right thing to do, but nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t. We see her violate these rules with no ramifications whatsoever. The third one, however, is a bit more serious: violation of this rule will result in her death.

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 -- just die

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 — just die

Wow, okay, so things escalate quickly between these rules, now don’t they.

The question, then, is where do these rules even come from? Are they universal constants that simply have to do with the way the space and time function? Or did someone arbitrarily decide them and put them into place?

Spoiler: it’s the second one.

Over the course of several cut scenes in the manga, we see Queen Serenity explain to Sailor Pluto what her role of the Space-Time Door gatekeeper involves and the Three Taboos that she’s subject to.4 A charitable reader of the manga could probably argue that she was merely passing long the rules, but things get a little clearer when you dig even further into the founding of the Silver Millennium.

“But Jason,” I can hear you writing with unrestrained gusto in the comments. “The Space-Time Door could have preceded the Moon Kingdom! So we don’t know she was involved.”

Fortunately for you and me both, my fictional reader, this conveniently leads me to my next point: the Space-Time Door was created in the Silver Millennium. We can say this with relative certainty for two reasons.

Kind ruler or ruthless monarch?

Kind ruler or ruthless monarch?

First off, according to statements made by Nehellenia,5 we know that Queen Serenity and her retinue came to the Earth during the planet’s infancy, quite possibly shortly after the hypothesized planetary impact that created the Moon 4.5 billion years ago.6 She describes a desire to watch over the planet though there is clearly no civilization in place at the time on the Moon or seemingly elsewhere in the area. This means that no civilization in the Solar System predates the Silver Millennium.

Second, Sailor Pluto herself states that only denizens of the Silver Millennium — which apparently includes Princess Usagi Small Lady Serenity by extension — can enter through the Space-Time Door.7 A door located within the deepest recesses of the Crystal Palace, might I add.

Sailor Pluto* (*not actually a planetary Senshi)

Sailor Pluto* (*not actually a planetary Senshi)

Considering that the Space-Time Door, and the place which it encompasses, is the sole domain of the Silver Millennium and that Queen Serenity herself founded said monarchy, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to go so far as to say that Queen Serenity herself created the Space-Time Door.

And, by extension, the Three Taboos by which the Soldier of Time is bound.

This means that Queen Serenity created the area, assigned Sailor Pluto to watch over it, gave her the rules to operate under… and ultimately it was none other than Queen Serenity herself to condemn Sailor Pluto to death.

What’s more, it was at Neo Queen Serenity’s wish that Sailor Pluto was reincarnated in the past as Setsuna Meioh to take part in the Infinity arc in the battle against the Death Busters. Considering that Neo Queen Serenity is clearly unable to reincarnate people on a whim elsewhere in the story,8 I think it’s not unreasonable to interpret this as the heir to the Moon family throne forgiving Sailor Pluto for her transgression.

And if you break the rule, you die lol

And if you break the rule, you die lol

As for why Queen Serenity would want to do this to one of her subjects, that’s certainly an interesting question open to debate. Perhaps there was a greater reason why she would place these rules on the gatekeeper of the Space-Time Door other than purely for the sake of it. In any case, it just further cements the fact that Sailor Pluto was given a pretty rough lot in life.

So what do you think of all this? Was Queen Serenity justified in placing such harsh restrictions on Pluto? Or do you think there was some other, yet unseen force at work? I’d love to hear your take on the situation down below!

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  1. I will never turn down the opportunity for a lame pun. Never.
  2. It’s unclear if Phobos and Deimos were reincarnated down on Earth or if they lived on, but then again, the “put to sleep” thing was mostly an anime invention anyway when you consider that Saturn pretty much murderfied everything in the manga.
  3. Before you say Helios, yes, I know. But he technically wasn’t a member of the Moon Kingdom court.
  4. See pp. 168-169, vol. 5; p. 10, vol. 6 of the original release
  5. See act 41, vol. 15 of the original release
  6.  See Giant Impact Hypothesis (Wikipedia)
  7. See p. 48, vol. 5 of the original release
  8. If she could, her troubles with the Black Moon and Shadow Galactica would have been easily resolved.

24 thoughts on “Who Sentenced Sailor Pluto to Death?

  1. I’ve thought that the death as a side-effect for using the time stop (like it completely drains her life-force), which could have been a warning from Queen Serenity.

    But it could also have been a penalty/curse (depending on how you see it) given by either QS or Chronos to ensure that she wouldn’t be tempted to misuse it (like if too many time stops could be harmful to the space time).
    Still harsh though since she saved the universe with it.

  2. Well, seeing as it’s always a disaster when shows/movies do time travel as it opens up plot holes galore (Ex. Marvel) I think it’s a rather meta way of Naoko acknowledging this, though she ironically did nothing to avoid it. You mess with time, you mess with everything else. As shown by Chibiusa fading from existence at the death of one of her parents or at their breakup. As to why the first two rules are no big deal and the third one is, I can’t posit any explanation other than Queen Serenity perhaps knew how things would play out and it was part of a “divine plan”…

    • There were no plot holes in the Marvel movies, imo. It all adds up and makes sense if you assume they have the technology and the ability to return all of the stones to where they came from. It does seem absurd that they’d have to re-liquify the Reality stone and put it back into Jane Foster’s body… but if they were able to get it out in the first place, I suppose they could reverse the process too. You don’t know that they CAN’T do it.

      The other issue is that Captain America created a new timeline where he stayed in the past and lived out his life with Peggy. But he has the time travel tech and particles necessary to use it… he could have used it to return to the original timeline to hand over the shield. Yes, it’s a reach… but not impossible, so it’s not a definite plot hole.

      The real plot hole problem would come in future movies… if they have this incredibly powerful ability, why wouldn’t they use it again and again? If anyone dies or if anything goes wrong, just go back in time and have a do-over. If they wanted to, they could go grab Tony from the past and bring him to the future to have an adventure with them, as long as they put him back afterwards. It’s just like Harry Potter with the time turners, you can’t just introduce that tech and then forget about it.

  3. There’s also Chronos. We don’t know exactly what or who he/it is. We know Setsuna calls him father.
    He seems to be the one governing time.
    If he is in fact her literal father, and that’s not just all symbolic, I’m not sure that’s a better one to blame.

    Personally, I don’t think anyone executed Sailor Pluto. I think those rules just exist.

    Not traveling through time is a good rule. I think that one could be manmade (moonmade?) because of all the obvious issues it can cause.

    Not leaving her post is probably a rule more than a taboo. Perhaps Chronos used to guard the door and left and bad stuff happened.

    But stopping time could be something that actually effects the user’s body with actual consequences.
    Maybe Chronos was even killed doing this in the distant past. The strain it could cause on the body to be the only thing in existence to still be moving forward might be too much.

    I really wish we knew more about Chronos.
    Is he just an abstract concept?
    A god on par with Serenity or maybe more powerful?
    Is he the Greek Titan Cronus who was the father of Pluto in mythology? But wait…that would make him Saturn…oh…the mythology in Sailor Moon needs filling in!

    • I believe they snuck that analogy in when Saturn uses her powers and is reborn again. Look to see who decides to care for her as a child (Pluto ).

  4. Omg I’ve always wondered this! I remember being like: “Why does she have to die!? She’s literally related to the god of time!” It more, too, because she’s my favorite Senshi ;-;

  5. Pssst. The story kind of implies that Queen Serenity was super benevolent but not necessarily a great mother or leader. When she sent everyone to reincarnate in 1990s Tokyo, that was her wishing to set things right.

    One of the themes of the show are that they were all born together at the same time. All the senshi together, not separated by age in the case of the inner senshi and not separated by distance in the case of the outer senshi. Notice that when Pluto and Saturn are finally reunited with the rest of the senshi, the team is at their strongest.

    Sailor Pluto’s taboos and isolation at the door was another one of Serenity’s good intentions, bad executions.

    • Sim. Ela não teve más intenções, mas os planos foram mal-executados, senão , quem sabe se o Milênio de Prata não estivesse em pé até hoje? Por outro lado, a história de Sailor Moon não teria começado.

    • I never considered until reading your comment that the Outers remain at a distance from the Inners due to their age, whether by being older like Michiru, Haruka, and Setsuna, or younger like Hotaru.

      Taking this further, I’d assume that “age” for those of the Silver Millenium wouldn’t be such a dividing factor given everyone stops aging around age 22. I mean shoot, Pluto and the Inners were soldiers by the time they’re children. However, in the world they were reborn in (Earth in the 90s), age is often used to put distance between individuals and groups of people. It works to keep the Outers aloof and distant.

  6. Okay, the “Pluto is not a planet” joke is really getting old.

    Sailor Pluto’s death is honestly one of the weirder moments of the manga, in that it’s the sort of scene that exists purely for drama but still has the decency to be foreshadowed to some extent. (Pluto’s reincarnation in the next arc, on the other hand, comes out of nowhere and barely receives any explanation beyond “future Usagi did it”.)

    The “stopping time requires so much energy it’ll kill you” idea is the one implicitly used by games like Another Story, where it’s not deadly but does drain all energy points.

    • I think Naoko basically just wrote herself into a corner. She needed to have Pluto stop time in order to tie the scene together, but it also raised a question as to why Pluto didn’t… you know… just stop time whenever they needed it. So she threw in this important rule about how it killed her.

      Then when she wanted Pluto back in the story, she just kinda decided to fudge it and ignore that rule altogether.

      • That could be explained by considering that Sailor Pluto never stops time after she is reincarnated. Perhaps the original Pluto was also a demi-god of sorts. She had the ability to stop time but it would be deadly as she was not a true goddess. Queen Serenity made the act of stopping time taboo to prevent Pluto from accidentally killing herself. When Pluto is reincarnated, she becomes a regular mortal human and loses the ability to stop time.

        Neo Queen Serenity sending Pluto’s reincarnation to the past fixes a loose end from Queen Serenity, finally reuniting the Outers together.

        • According to the manga, it’s actually the Garnet Rod, not Pluto, that has the power to stop time (p. 10 of vol. 7 of the original manga; Act 23 “Never Ending”).
          Which makes things a lot more complicated. x_X

  7. Huh. Guess we’ll have to stick with stopping time consumes her energy as Moonchild suggested. It does make sense. It’s not instantaneous death but it seems like there’s no going back once she commits the act. Even though Pluto can control who is affected and how long, her energy will be consumed until she dies.

  8. I never thought Queen Serenity created the Time Gates since in act 18 (of the original, act 19 in Crystal and in the reniewed version) Luna remembers how Queen Serenity told her to stay away from them by saying “it’s closed door, a forbidden sanctuary (sacred/holy land) secretly protected by a lone guard. Forget that you saw it”. It’d be super arrogant if she called something she herself created as ” 聖域” (holy land). Moreover, in Crystal (episode 19) she acts either kinda surprised or afraid, and definitely wary, when she sees the Space-Time door, an attitude that is never shown towards the mysteriously powerful things that we do know she did have control over, like the Silver Crystal, the Moon palace, and even the Moon sword.

    Furthermore, even though Pluto said no one but the members of the Silver Millenium can enter the misty place where the Time Gates are located, that was until the arrival of the Black Moon, since Wiseman and co. did it too, bypassing Pluto and her door, and the fact that it’s the same place is what made it possible for Wiseman to bump into the lost Chibiusa in there, and kindap her. The fact that Pluto also needed to “close the time-space passage” that Paharoh 90 and Mistress 9 had opened between Earth and their home planet, in arc 3, shows that others can also manipulate the space-time continuum without needing to use Pluto’s Time Gates, and that even though Pluto’s Time Gates are a pretty ancient and powerful device to manipulate it, they certainly aren’t the only thing capable of it. Therefore, the time stream is something far broader than just Pluto’s Time Gates, and thus the Time Gates’ control of the time-stream, and thus the degree of control over the time-stream that Queen Serenity “exercised” and then passed on to Pluto, was obviously limited, as the time-stream was something far beyond even Queen Serenity herself, and therefore it’s obvious that her getting some degree of manipulation of it would come at a price. In other words, I don’t think even Queen Serenity herself would have been able to just stop Time, like Pluto did, without paying even herself some kind of price.

  9. First, I’m always impressed to come across words I’ve never even heard of before, like “retinue”. I always enjoy coming across new words and finding out what they mean.

    Second… I have to assume Queen Serenity wouldn’t make a rule like that unless there was a very good reason for it. Maybe she’s seen Back To The Future, and knows just how badly things can go if you mess around with the timeline… rewriting history or creating alternate realities is generally a pretty terrible idea.

    If I had to assign someone to guard over the ability to use that kind of power, I might do just the same thing. Pluto is supposed to prevent anyone from messing around with time… and that needs to include Pluto herself. Does the penalty need to be death? Maybe not… but a very serious penalty ensures that Pluto would never be tempted to use that power, unless something far more important than her own life was at stake.

    Also, it’s possible that Queen Serenity knows all about the Galaxy Cauldron… and the fact that death doesn’t have to be permanent.

    As for her returning to the series… I think Naoko just wanted her back. There was never any attempt at an explanation, was there? It’s just that she’s the most mysterious one of the characters and has unique powers, and hopefully the readers will just be happy to see her back. I have to go re-examine the manga…

    OK, Demand is holding both the present and the future Silver Crystal, and is about to hold them together to combine their power. Pluto and Endymion say that the world will be destroyed by a huge distortion in space-time if the crystals touch, but Demand doesn’t seem to know this. Pluto sacrifices herself so that Usagi can retrieve the crystals, and when Black Lady sees Pluto die she returns to being Chibiusa again.

    And then she shows up as Setsuna a few acts later, seemingly not knowing she’s Sailor Pluto, and is reawakened to her identity as a Sailor Senshi during the fight with Tellu. So… all of the other characters originally died in the past, and were reincarnated on the present day Earth. But Pluto seemingly never died… so she’s still got an extra life left over to use here, I suppose? She gets her turn to be reincarnated just like the others. No explanation at all, but I suppose it seems fair that she gets to do that too?

    In the anime, she stops time to save Haruka and Michiru’s lives in a scene that is much less dramatic than her death in the manga. I wish they came up with a better scenario for her to sacrifice her life… a large group of daimons attack their helicopter out of nowhere, Setsuna stops time to save Haruka and Michiru, then the helicopter explodes. I’m glad they included Setsuna getting to use that power… but it’s not nearly as impactful to the storyline as it was in the manga. Then in Stars she just shows up again with no explanation at all. At least with the manga you can tell yourself that she deserved a reincarnation just like all the other characters had… the anime version makes no sense.

  10. Actually I’m not that surprised that only breaking the third rule had such dire consequences. The first two taboos concern the Space-Time Door itself, which Queen Serenity presumably created and had power over. She didn’t want people to walk in an out freely to avoid weird paradoxes, so she put a guard in there – and what better candidate than a daughter of the time god himself! If anyone could survive spending literal millenia on a doorstep, it would be her. If Pluto broke any of the first two rules while SIlver Millenium still existed, she’d probably be punished somehow by the queen for disobedience, but that’s it (“no going back in time to make sure you end up being Endymion’s lover instead of my daughter or I’ll slap your paws, girlie!”). But once the Queen is no more, the rules are no more either and Pluto keeps them (or not) according to her own morals.

    However, the third rule is unrelated to the door, it’s messing with the time-space itself by using Chronos’ power (not Queen Serenity’s). Why would tapping into her planet godly magic cause her death though? My guess, and it’s a pure guess of course, would be that, whether she’s a literal god-moonie half (could that be why she’s the only one with darker skintone?), or just some physical emanation of the time god, she exists in a very similar way to other senshi – she’s a temporal being and should be subject to time-stopping. And yet, she’s the user of the garnet rod so she not only isn’t stopped – she manages to keep some other senshi going too. That means the objective time is actually not frozen (things happen, people move and talk, etc.). It’s the subjective timelines of everything and anything other than herself and her pals that Pluto needs to keep on halt – and that could indeed require crazy energy, making her physical body just melt within seconds. Queen Serenity had probably known or suspected that so while she gives Pluto three taboos, she puts some extra stress on the last one.

  11. queen serenity tells sailormoon that she is the one the humans refered to as selene, she was the niece of cronus, plutos father. perhaps she is passing this info along to pluto, who may only be a demi-god, that while she may attain this power the strain of using it would destroy her physical body. i remember when dr.t in deathbusters commented in crystal when sailormoon summons the grail, that she wasn’t being torn apart by the power she was gathering. selene is a titan and the grand daughter of the first two recorded gods in existance, that’s along time to watch over how things work, and perhaps she has seen the future and is warning pluto that when she uses this tech. she will perish.

  12. I think it came from her Father who was the god of TIME and when she was born she was the only girl of the god of time and queen serenity went to chronos and asked if she could be the senshi of the space time door and chronos gave her the rules to tell her about the law of time and since stopping time would cause her to die because it 1 stops time and 2 ita uses all her power. And remember queen serenity asked that all the senshi be reborn when they die which is why setsuna(pluto) i believed setsuna really used it to not just to save the world but to be reborn with her friends

  13. ” Queen Serenity and her retinue came to the Earth during the planet’s infancy, quite possibly shortly after the hypothesized planetary impact that created the Moon 4.5 billion years ago.”

    Could we assume, maybe, that Queen Serenity WAS the planetary impact that created the Moon? If it’s said that she came to the solar system from a far away galaxy, maybe that’s a coherent part of the plot?

  14. These rules were set by Queen Serenity. I really don’t like the way Serenity treats outer senshi, especially Pluto. The Moon of the Earth rules other Planet Princesses.
    Serenity was not born in the Moon, she came from somewhere else that very far away. In somehow, she rules the Moon and the Solar System, later she becomes Sailor Cosmos. These makes me feel like she is a dangerous character. If she can become Sailor Cosmos, the Phobos and Demos can as well. She acts as an innocent character, but… you know… she must be the last boss, after Chaos.

  15. Well, look at Minako – she has love goddess abilities that are latent. She basically is love itself, in a way. Usagi has natural healing and regenerative abilities that are latent. It sort of seems that all of the senshi, being the goddesses of their respective areas, sort of embody them.

    So… if Pluto’s area is time, and she stops time, maybe it’s like she’s basically stopping herself, so she dies? Idk

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