It should probably come as no surprise that we often wind up discussing school uniforms in a blog devoted to uncovering the mysteries of Sailor Moon. The title itself, in fact, is even a direct reference to the naval-inspired “sailor fuku” uniforms worn to school by young women across Japan. If that’s not a tip off to the fact that these things are important, I don’t know what is.
But today we’re going to talk about something a little bit different, about one of those details that could easily get overlooked by the untrained eye. Which, of course, doesn’t apply to any of you, my incredibly observant readers!
We’ll be taking a look today at why Hotaru’s uniform, subtle though the difference may be, doesn’t match up with the ones worn by Haruka and Michiru. As an extra bonus, this also gives us an opportunity to take a deeper look into the mysterious school that is Mugen Gakuen. Grab a lunch box, because things are about to get educational!
Just to give a little background, this discrepancy between Hotaru and Michiru’s Mugen Gakuen uniforms is something that had caught my imagination for a long time. We see Hotaru so rarely in her uniform in the anime that it’s an easy detail to overlook, but sure enough, her bow is most definitely blue in all official anime and manga art while Michiru’s is consistently green.
Since Haruka and Michiru’s uniforms are typically seen by fans as the “canonical” Mugen Gakuin uniforms, it would seem that this makes Hotaru’s the outlier. But, as we’ve seen time and time again, appearances can be deceiving.
As you probably already know, Mugen Gakuen is an elite school created and run by Professor Tomoe that he uses for carrying out his various nefarious deeds.
But referring to Mugen Gakuen as just a “school” is selling it short: it’s actually more like an entire school system. They offer classes all the way from preschool (most likely as young as three years old)1 and through graduate school, meaning that you could realistically spend over 20 years of your life attending Mugen Gakuen if you were rich enough.
For the record, this type of arrangement isn’t entirely the work of fantasy. The real life Keio University — which served as the basis for the KO university attended by Mamoru, Motoki, and Mamoru-totally-killed-him Endo — also has its own affiliated schools all the way from preschool and on up.2 But that’s neither here nor there.
According to Ms. Takeuchi’s incredibly detailed Materials Collection,3 students in the four lowest schools (meaning preschool, elementary, junior high school, and high school) were required to wear uniforms, and each of the uniforms was given its own distinct color to be worn on the bows (for girls) and on the ties (for boys).
The colors for the respective schools are:
- Preschool: Pink
- Elementary: Red
- Junior High: Blue
- High: Green
So even though Mugen Gakuen may technically all be one “school,” it’s still broken down into individual levels, which explains why Hotaru wears a blue bow while Michiru wears a green one.
“That’s nice and all,” I can hear you say as you couch your upcoming criticism in polite language. “But does this actually tell us anything about the series?”
In the 1990s Sailor Moon S, Viluy was depicted as having a green bow (= a high school student) while she is depicted in Sailor Moon Crystal as having a blue bow (= a junior high school student). Tellu, Cyprine, and Ptilol also show their true colors as junior high school students and sport blue bows in Sailor Moon Crystal, while Eudial is shown with a green one, making her the oldest of the group.
… kind of. Mimete also has her own consistency issues, though hers are slightly different. She’s depicted as having a green bow in the Materials Collection5 and a blue bow in Sailor Moon Crystal.
What does this all mean? Well it would mean that at least in the Sailor Moon Crystal telling of the story, Eudial is the oldest of the Witches 5, though that’s a little less clear in the manga (since we can’t actually confirm bow colors for any characters other than Mimete). The 90s anime seems to have increased the ages of most of the Witches 5 anyway, making it a lot harder to guess any age differences between them. However, since it appears that most of them are at least university students, that would possibly make Viluy the youngest in that version of Sailor Moon since she’s in high school.
So what do you think is going on with all this age weirdness, especially with regard to Mimete (since Crystal typically tries to track closely with the manga)? Just an oversight in Crystal, or possibly Ms. Takeuchi had a change of heart during the manga run after the Witches 5 concept art was drawn? Though this is all pretty minor, I just love this kind of stuff, since understanding how the characters relate to each other can really change your perception of the story!
- This is due to the fact that all sources refer to the preschool available at Mugen Gakuen as a 幼稚園, which typically start accepting students as young as three ↩
- See Prepping for university straight from the crib ↩
- See p. 48 of the Materials Collection ↩
- Seriously, I will not stop using this literary device. ↩
- See page 43 of the Materials Collection ↩