Why Was Mamoru Changed to a University Student in the Anime?

The Epitome of Maturity

The Epitome of Maturity

The question of why Mamoru was made older in the anime has been one of those questions that has really bothered me ever since I first learned that there were — sometimes significant — differences between the two mediums. First off, it doesn’t seem to really have much of an impact on the story itself since his parents are dead in both and him living alone doesn’t need to be explained and, if anything, it’s actually detrimental. As we discussed previously, Mamoru being a university student adds certain legal questions regarding Usagi and Mamoru dating. And this didn’t just stand out to western audiences, either. A Google search for タキシード仮面 ロリコン (takishiido kamen rorikon; Tuxedo Kamen lolita complex)1 yields over 30,000 hits of various blogs, polls, and sites with Japanese fans asking (or joking) about the same thing. Even fan books and magazines dating back to 1993 were asking the same questions.

So what did the anime producers gain by changing Mamoru from a second-year high school student to a (most probably) first year university student? Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any concrete answers to these questions and these are just personal musings, but taken together with the facts, these may have played a part in the decision to raise Mamoru’s age. So, let’s take a look!

Masked Rider

Masked Rider

Tuxedo Mask Needs a Ride

This is a pretty minor point, but when you consider that despite there really being no strong plot connection or reason for Mamoru to be driving, he appears quite often in either his car or on his motorcycle (an Alfa Romeo SZ and Bimota Tesi 1D, respectively)2 throughout the series. It also seems that someone on the Sailor Moon anime staff was a fan of automobiles, since not only were Mamoru’s based on real-life vehicles, but Usagi’s family car and Nephrite’s car are also based on real models.

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Mamoru Doesn’t Have Any Friends

Okay, so it may be a bit harsh to say that he doesn’t have any friends, but… let’s face it — according to the manga, Mamoru really has no social life, friends, or even acquaintances. The only possible exception would be his underclassman, Ittou Asanuma,3 though they don’t really interact.

Motoki, being a character dating back to Code Name: Sailor V, was stuck being a university student (due to Sailor Moon necessarily taking place a year later) and couldn’t be aged down, so moving Mamoru up allowed them to be classmates and to imply something of a social life for Mamoru.

Family Time with the Sailor Team

Family Time with the Sailor Team

The Audience was Older

The most significant reason for making Mamoru older may have very well been the simplest: the show, unlike the manga, was typically watched together as a family, and with older audiences. I discussed before that the manga skewed to a younger audience, but didn’t mention the details on the anime. Throughout its run, Sailor Moon aired on TV Asahi from 7:00 to 7:30pm on Saturdays4 in what is known as the “golden time” (or primetime in the West)5, capturing on average 11.6% of viewers (and 16.3% at its peak) for the time block, which was comparable with its strongest competitors.

It may seem superficial, but from the point of view of older viewers (upper junior high school, high school, and even older), a high school boy doesn’t have the same mystery to him nor the dependability of an older (university) man who’s working various jobs and has money to spare. Mamoru may live in a fancy, upscale apartment in both versions, but he seems to spend that money much more freely in the anime, which may be part of his charm.

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As mentioned at the top, everything written here is just personal observations and theories, but it’s an interesting step toward getting clearer understanding of how Mamoru differs in his various incarnations. One day, I really hope this question is posed to Ms. Takeuchi, but unfortunately with the onset of the new Sailor Moon Crystal, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

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7 thoughts on “Why Was Mamoru Changed to a University Student in the Anime?

    • Yes, this one was great. And I agree with ALL assumptions, they all make much sense. I hadn’t even thought much about this change except for the age difference with Usagi. I liked the idea about having cars and motorcycles, actually, I love them all! THANKS!

  1. How old do you have to be to drive a car?
    Is there any concrete evidence he is a university student in the anime where it is explicitly stated that he is in University, or he is older than 17 years?
    It also just occured to me that both Makoto and Mamoru are orphans, living in their own apartments with a pretty hefty allowance. Are they all rich?

    • You have to be at least 18 in Japan to drive a car. Also, it’s mentioned several times that he and Motoki are classmates at the same university.

      As for how rich they are, it’s never really addressed in the series, but I think the common understanding among fans is that their parents either must have had a lot of money or their was a massive insurance payout.

  2. I think the reasoning of aging him up to drive is silly when we consider characters like Haruka driving in the same anime. Why wasn’t she aged up then? Or why was her driving excused as “whatever it’s a cartoon” but his wasn’t?

  3. I’m surprised this article doesn’t land on what I always assumed, which is that a lot of anime and manga made in this time period often paired girls in middle school and high school with young adult men. I can only assume it wasn’t seen as a problem at the time – Yawara did it (though Yawara actually graduates high school before the pair up and it’s not *quite* so extreme), Ranma toys with it, Glass Mask has one that could maybe an end game pairing if the story is ever finished…

    it seems like these stopped happening in the late 90s and I’ve noticed shows that aim at Sailor Moon’s same target audience choose love interests that are the same age as the protagonists now.

    I can only assume that when Tohru Furuya was cast, the age up was also considered because of his more mature voice and persona at the 90s. I do know that changes to Tuxedo Mask’s presentation for the 90s anime were done explicitly to because they cast such a famous actor, including even having him shout out a line from one of his other well known shows.

    But also it seems even the writers figured out the age gap was a *noticeable* problem since it’s brought up from time to time in things like Mamoru refusing to admit he’s dating Rei to Matoki, Usagi’s father *freaking out* when he meets him, that episode of SuperS where Mamoru’s friends meet Usagi and just assume she can’t possibly be his girlfriend because she’s so young and immature so they try to fix him up with a girl his own age…

    I think all that points to a style choice that was rapidly going *out* of style and ages worse and worse as time passes.

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