Why Did Professor Tomoe Sacrifice Hotaru?

Hotaru Taken by a Tragic Explosion

Hotaru Taken by a Tragic Explosion

Now, far be it from me to pass judgment on what makes a good and bad parent, but I’ve always found it… questionable that Professor Souichi Tomoe chose to implant a daimon egg in his daughter (and only surviving member of his family after the tragic death of his wife), which ultimately allowed Mistress 9 to take control of Hotaru. While this plot device – or one like it – was obviously necessary for the progression of the Death Busters story arc, I wasn’t completely satisfied with that answer. After all, Ms. Takeuchi is pretty well known for putting meaning behind the most insignificant details, right? While most of what’s written in this post is just speculation on my part, I think there’s enough evidence to at least give it some serious consideration. So let’s take a closer look!

Even mad scientists need to eat...

Even mad scientists need to eat…

While I’m generally a fan of the Occam’s Razor1 school of thought (i.e., that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be true), when it comes to explaining the personalities and backgrounds of the characters of the Sailor Moon series, Ms. Takeuchi has proven to prefer depth and complexity. In order to answer the question about Hotaru and her father’s questionable parenting practices, we again look to Greco-Roman mythology for a little context.

Cronus, the Greek god on which Saturn was based,2 had something of a bad habit when it came to eating his own children. Seeing as he had castrated and overthrown his own father, Uranus, in order to become the ruler of the universe,3 it’s somewhat understandable that Cronus would worry about his own children wanting to topple him. In fact, he was told by Uranus and Gaia (his mother) that his own son would be his undoing. In order to put a stop to that, he would eat his children shortly after they were born.

Though canonically we would accept Hotaru as the character representative of Saturn/Cronus when it comes to her portrayal within the Sailor Moon series – indeed, Saturn was often depicted with a scythe/sickle similar to the Silence Glaive – I wonder if it’s also possible to look at the story as it’s applied to her. Though Professor Tomoe clearly cared about his daughter and sought to save her life, implanting the daimon egg within her and allowing Mistress 9 to possess Hotaru seemed to be connected with his desire to further his research (which is what caused the accident in the first place) and completely separate from his efforts to keep Hotaru alive.

Professor Tomoe – Not All There?

Professor Tomoe – Not All There?

While one could naturally point out the obvious difference in eating your own children and what Professor Tomoe did, the results are not so dissimilar when you take a look at the motivations behind them: like Cronus, Professor Tomoe was willing to sacrifice his own child in order to further his own goals in his quest for power.

This could all very well be just a coincidence, but seeing how much effort Ms. Takeuchi went even to match up star signs and birthdays for all of the characters, it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibilities. So what do you think? Do you think that Professor Tomoe’s treatment of Hotaru was in reference to the Greek origins of the character? Just a plot device? Maybe some other theory…? I’d love to hear it!

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  1. See Occam’s Razor (Wikipedia)
  2. See Cronus (Wikipedia)
  3. For a primer on the history of the Greek gods, see Theogony (Wikipedia)

15 thoughts on “Why Did Professor Tomoe Sacrifice Hotaru?

  1. I rather dislike the fact that in Crystal his motivations are more along the lines of “I need her for my science project” rather than actually trying to save her life as in the original anime. I know that it’s truer to the manga, but it was a motivational nuance that I felt really set Tomoe apart from all the other Big Bads of the series. In the original anime it always felt like he was an experimenter forced to make a deal with devil to save the one he loved.

    It is interesting to note (if the subs are accurate) that in Crystal, Tomoe seems to be shocked that the Daimon Egg in Hotaru actually was viable. However it was less a shock of dismay as opposed to “ooh, that’s interesting!” which is in keeping with his now total Mad Scientist approach.

    • While I can see where they’re going with the mad scientist approach (and it definitely is in line with what Ms. Takeuchi did in the manga), I agree here that I think the original anime did a better job of making him a more dynamic character. There’s something about the “I’m just evil / crazy / etc.!” type of villain that feels a little too… two-dimensional to me. Would it hurt for him to have been not only interested in keeping Hotaru alive as a matter of furthering his scientific advances, but also because he loved her? I don’t think so.

  2. Tomoe suffered from a problem pretty much every other antagonist in the source material did. Underdevelopment, and paper-thin motivations.

    Basically they popped up, cackled and gloated a bit. And then got one-shotted. Rinse and repeat…

    That being said I thought it was a bit of a shame, that like the Ayakashi sisters the anime just kind of forgot about him.

    The only plausible theory I can come up with, is that the death of his wife messed him up psychologically and ended up loosing touch with reality as a result.

    • Like you mentioned, I always kinda just assumed that the loss of his wife basically destroyed the guy, but when you consider that he was doing these bizarre experiments in the first place, I’m not so sure how I feel about that theory. There’s also the fact that he just uses his own daughter (his only remaining family!) so blatantly.

      Sailor Moon is one of those unique series where the sub-enemies are 90% of the time actually far more developed than the main/head antagonist that the heroes fight against. While you spend so much time learning about Eudial and the rest of the Witches 5, you know virtually nothing about Professor Tomoe. The Ayakashi Sisters have their own motivations (even if not too clearly defined) while Wiseman is… umm… evil. I guess Sailor Galaxia is a bit of an exception, but Stars is kinda flipped around in general, so not sure how much that counts.

      • Big bosses in Sailor Moon were usually some kind of bad energy, not actual people. Beryl in the anime always felt like future body donor for Metalia and not a human being. Wiseman too. And Chaos is completly abstract concept.

        • Same with Pharaoh 90, I guess. I agree totally with you on the Beryl/Metalia thing, especially when you consider the last episode of Sailor Moon Classic when they come together as one.

          I know it’ll never happen, but I’d absolutely love to see the story behind how the Four Kings and Beryl had re-awakened after being reborn. I’ve always been interested in how the dynamics of the Dark Kingdom since they kinda parallel the Sailor Soldiers.

      • I can’t help but think of prof. Tomoe in the same way as dr. Drevis, Aya’s father, in Mad Father; as in, what if the wife opposed using Hotaru in these experiments from the start, and she generally balanced out the professor’s somewhat unorthodox and amoral nature? And then when she died, all boundaries regarding his daughter just disappeared? He could’ve actually loved his wife and respected her wish somewhat, but when she disappeared, so did the reason for him to upkeep the last shred of any morals. These things would’ve been interesting to explore as characterization and Hotaru’s family history.

  3. I agree with the above comments in that I feel like Tomoe’s character in the manga/Crystal is too 1 dimensional..and while your theory sounds interesting (I like!), I kind of doubt that was the reasoning for it..seems more like a easy plot device XD Just my thoughts

    • You know, it’s funny… there are actually quite a few villains in BSSM (I’m looking at you, Beryl) that don’t have any sort of strong motivation for being evil and it doesn’t really bother me. After all, there wasn’t really a lot of meat behind Dr. Claw’s obsession for trying to “get you next time, Gadget.” But I’m okay with that – heroes need antagonists.

      But in the case of Professor Tomoe, it’s all the more annoying that he’s so one-dimensionally evil precisely because Hotaru is his daughter. Especially since the Death Busters fall immediately after the Black Moon arc, which was centered around the mother/daughter combo of Usagi and ChibiUsa, and is contrasted with all the “good-dad” Mamoru scenes in Death Busters, it seems a little dismissive.

      Ah well! What can ya do? Write long-winded blog posts about ancient Greek legends, that’s what! ^_-

  4. If I’m not remembering incorrectly, somewhere in the last couple episodes of Crystal, Saturn tells Pluto to “close the door” after she (Saturn) follows the banished Pharoah 90 through it. Pluto calls upon Chronos, the father of time. I assume this is not the same Cronus we are talking about here, but that is what reminded me. Is this the only time we see any Senshi call upon any sort of “higher power” or god/goddess beyond Neo-Queen Serenity? Does Pluto also do it when she stops time and then dies? Perhaps an article on the significance of that would be in order.

    • Chibiusa also calls on Cronos to open the way through time with the key she had from Pluto. I don’t recall any other time the Senshi call on their higher associated gods off the top of my head– it would be interesting, given what you pointed out and the references made to Sailor Moon as Messiah– if in a way she was a new god rising. (Look at the way she just restored Tokyo with a literal wave of the hand)

    • That’s… complicated. Chronos and Cronus may or may not be the same entity depending on the source: they were definitely conflated into one when Classical mythology was rediscovered through the lens of European Renaissance, but even back in Ancient Greece there were different interpretations on whether the two were in fact the same deity, whether Chronos was a philosophical personification rather than a religious one, whether Cronus was an euphemistic name for Chronos or what not. Also, myths regarding Chronos as a stand-alone god kind of contradict the classic Gaea-based cosmogony / theogony – they’re a different continuity, if you will.

      Then again, Sailor Pluto is stated to be the daughter of Chronos, and in mythology Pluto / Hades is Cronus’ firstborn, so… make of that what you will, I guess?
      (Though I don’t think that, even accepting the existence of Chronos, or taking OG Queen Serenity to be a goddess Selene analogue, we should try to trace a 1:1 parallel with Greek mythology, lest we end up with a VERY convoluted family tree linking all the Solar System Senshi in very uncomfortable tangles).

    • It is a great relief to see that other people besides me had this reaction XD

      I mean, there are some things I like about the manga (the much clearer revelation about who the Shitennou used to be, or the thing about their ghosts), and the manga being the basic template for everything else to stem from (the seeds the flowers grew from, as I see it), reading the manga AFTER the anime makes it so hard to appreciate the manga. The characterization is just so much better on almost every villain/”miniboss” character in the anime, and Professor Tomoe is one of the most shining examples. I absolutely love Anime Tomoe. Manga Tomoe, not so much.

  5. I think this is one of those cases where the continuity drift between versions is most noticeable and needs to be fully acknowledged.

    Your analysis is spot on for manga!Tomoe: he just sacrificed his daughter to further his plans and for the evulz. The cybernetic implants should have been sufficent to save Hotaru, but nope, he deliberately got her possessed. And in general, the only reason why he got in league with the Death Busters was they provided him with the means for his research on super-human organisms, so he was evil and megalomaniac all along. No wonder he’d “devour” his own child to further his ambition.

    Anime!Tomoe, on the other hand, was a straight up victim of circumstances. If I recall correctly, his wormhole experiment wasn’t supposed to be dangerous, and then he offered HIMSELF to Germatroid in exchange for Hotaru to be saved, except Germatroid took control of his mind and woops, the Mistress 9 egg was the promised cure all along, suck it up Souichi.

    I’d say this is on par with the changes to Nehellenia in that the general story is pretty much intact, but the specific circumstances are so different between manga and anime they even nod to entirely different sources (i.e.: Nehellenia is more of a wicked fairy godmother from Sleeping Beauty in the manga, and an evil queen from Snow White in the anime).

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