Would it be Legal for Mamoru and Usagi to Date?

Police Looking to Talk to Mr. Mask

Police Looking to Talk to Mr. Mask

Or, a better (though not as easy-to-read) title would be “What are the Legal Implications for the Relationship Between Mamoru and Usagi in the Anime?” However, I think we’ll need to give up a little bit of clarity in the question here for ease of reading. Please forgive the ambiguity.

This is, however, an interesting and important question when you actually stop and think about the ages of the characters involved. Usagi is, in both the manga and the anime, 14 years old and a second-year junior high school student. Mamoru, on the other hand, ranges between him being 16 at the start of the manga1 to 18 at the start of the anime.2 Though at first glance, this two-year age difference doesn’t seem to matter much or have many implications, it actually has huge implications legally, especially when you consider the difference between a 14 and a 16 year old dating and a 14 year old dating an 18 year old man.

Mamoru's High School ID – Act 3, p. 96, vol. 1

Mamoru’s High School ID – Act 3, p. 96, vol. 1

I’d say it’s safe to put the manga aside, then, and to say that there are no real implications there. A two year age difference is pretty minor anyway, and since they’re both minors, it’s no big issue. Now for the anime, there are some issues which come into play due to Mamoru being older than 18. While the age of majority in Japan is 20,3 local and national laws protecting children (and the ones which would also consider any conduct between Usagi and Mamoru between minors) cut off at 18 and the Juvenile Act (which prevents the conviction of minors under the normal laws for criminal acts) has been modified to allow for criminal trials as young as 16.

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But that’s not to say that Mamoru and Usagi dating is against the law – in fact, it isn’t. If they maintain a nice, pure, and chaste relationship like we see on screen, then there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. This is the same in most countries, actually, in-so-far that the relationship itself isn’t forbidden, just certain acts carried out therein. The relevant law is Article 176 of the Penal Code,4 which reads:

A person who, through assault or intimidation, forcibly commits an indecent act upon a male or female of not less than thirteen years of age shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 6 months but not more than 10 years.

So we’re okay then! Nothing indecent going on between the two of them, right? Well, yes and no. Episode 22 mucks things up a bit, actually.

Usagi and Tuxedo Mask Share a Kiss (Ep. 22)

Usagi and Tuxedo Mask Share a Kiss (Ep. 22)

While Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask are star-crossed lovers, reunited across millennia, unfortunately for him being 18 years of old and kissing a junior high school student who drank alcohol during the party falls under an “indecent act.” But there’s no assault or intimidation, so we would have to consult Article 178(1) of the Penal Code, which reads:

A person who commits an indecent act upon a male or female by taking advantage of loss of consciousness or inability to resist, or by causing a loss of consciousness or inability to resist, shall be punished in the same manner as prescribed for in Article 176. (emphasis added)

Now I know people are throwing down their pens here and saying that I’m being overly pedantic and that Usagi and Mamoru are deeply in love and that no one in their right mind would call this a crime. And you know, you’re absolutely right! I totally agree with you. The good news is that the Japanese laws actually agree with you (and me!) too.

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You see, Articles 176 – 178 are limited to what’s known as a shinkokuzai (親告罪; a crime which is only prosecutable if there is a complaint made), which is covered under Article 180 of the Penal Code:

The crimes prescribed for in Articles 176 through Article 178 and attempts of the above-mentioned crimes shall be prosecuted only upon complaint.

Absent a complaint by Usagi – which, as we established, wouldn’t happen as she was consenting and loves Mamoru – there’s no illegal conduct here. So for once, common sense actually wins in a discussion about the law and human interactions! In short, though their relationship is on shakier ground in the anime than in the manga, their relationship is totally fine as long as the law is concerned.

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References:

  1. The year you enter school, and thus your age for any given school year, is determined by your age as of March 31 of the following year. We know that Mamoru’s birthday is August 3 and that he’s a second-year high school student, so he must be 16 at the start of the manga and turning 17. For a list of school years and ages, see Age by Academic Year
  2. Since we know that he’s a classmate of Motoki and that Motoki is a first-year university student, we can deduce that Mamoru must also be a first-year, and is thus 18.
  3.  See Coming of Age (Wikipedia)
  4. For a translation, see Penal Code – Act No. 45 of 1907

16 thoughts on “Would it be Legal for Mamoru and Usagi to Date?

  1. Could you clarify me one doubt about the ages at Sailor Moon messed timeline? When the story starts? O.o
    I’m so lost!

    • Yeah, the ages are pretty weird. In the manga and anime, Usagi starts out at 14. This would mean that she should turn 15 on June 30th of that year, or before/during the Dark Kingdom arc.

      However, since Usagi is an 8th grader (second-year in junior high school), this means that she should have been 13 years old when the story starts, and should become 14 after her birthday. In Japan, nearly all students are 13/14 during their eighth grade year.

      So it’s a bit confusing!

  2. That’s a very interesting article, but I have one question 🙂
    I’m not sure about the manga, but at one point in the anime Usagi remarks that when she turns 16 she’ll finally be able to marry Mamo-chan. Following your article that means Mamoru would be 18-20 years old.

    Would the Japanese law allow them to marry at such a young age?

  3. I know this is off topic, but How old is Usagi throughout the manga? I know she is 14 at the beginning, but throughout the series?

  4. It would be okay under the law but highly probably not under their respective school laws. Many schools even forbid sleepovers at normal friends’ homes. And if Usagi’s school knew she would stay at her boyfriend’s, they would freak out. Furthermore, the frequent bed-sharing with boyfriends just so removed from reality. No good Japanese parent sane in their mind would agree to a jhs child doing that. Even hs would be quite questionable.

  5. Actually the one I was watching,
    The subtitles for the anime called Mamoru a college student.
    Therefore I assumed he’s at least 19.
    So him being 16-18 is good and less weird in that case. And him being 18 makes more sense but legally of course it is better to make him 16.
    While the relationship and Usagi’s infatuations are fictional and hella cute,
    Once we remember the ages they are supposed to be, some parts get a bit weird I guess, if compared to a real life situation.
    But let’s not forget that when Mamoru Kissed Usagi, she was a more mature woman. She had transformed into a princess and was older than her age (presumably a legal adult of 18) which in that case makes everything totally normal and legal, since Mamoru is kissing a woman who looks about his age and did not know that it is Usagi. That is how I interpreted it and what made sense to me when I watched it anyway 🙂
    Anyhow watching the anime and how they look, of course they all look more mature because of how they are drawn so it’s not difficult to imagine Usagi (childish behaviour aside. But she’s the most immature of the bunch so it could just be called adhd or a personality trait too haha) being around 18 and Mamoru being around 22.
    So that makes watching the events unfold and shipping them not be creepy.
    On the other hand Naru and Nephrite? That’s kinda creepy. There’s a very clear age difference. I don’t know what age he is supposed to be but his character is made in a way that makes him come across considerably older than Mamoru…. not just by behaviour but everything… and just… I know he’s manipulating her for most part because he’s a pawn of darkness but the way the scenes are drawn and everything he says makes him sound more like a child groomer and a pimp. Out of context it all looks especially creepy

    • I think this gets into a debate about suspended disbelief.

      In reality every human character in the show was either drawn and/or acted more mature than they realistically would have. Mamoru is 18 and yet he actually acts more maturely than the overwhelming majority of 18 year olds, complete with his own swanky apartment and everything.

      You also have to consider that the relationship between them in their past lives and present day is confirmed and constantly reaffirmed as bona fide true blue love, when in real life it’s extremely rare that teenagers, even ones as old as 19, would honestly form real romantic love as opposed to mere limerence.

      But I think this plays into the nature of the show and these types of stories. You sort of have to suspend your disbelief and understand that something that might be awkward or uncomfortable if in real life is not to be taken as seriously within the context of the story. It’s a kind of heightened reality as it were and different types of stories play that heightened reality in different ways.

      Sailor Moon, I think it’s fair to say, 100% has traditional fairy tale elements encoded into it’s narrative DNA and those are often more about hitting an emotional resonance, chiefly through the romantic feelings of the characters, rather than generating a believable fictional world for the characters to inhabit. It’s the difference between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast vs. Lord of the Rings, in spite of superficial similarities.

      Sailor Moon leans towards the former so her relationship with Mamoru reflects that. Mamoru is basically older because it was/is a wish fulfillment fantasy for many (but not all) girls and women to have an older, affluent and cool lover. Critique their narrative merit all you like (and I’d be there with you) but stuff like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, for good or ill, are proof of that fantasy and it’s appeal to many people. In real life is it preeeeeeeeetty iffy for an 18 year old college student to date a 14 year old middle schooler? Yes it is.

      But it’s not that much iffier than the average romance in a Disney movie (Aladdin was older than Jasmine canonically and it’s all but certain that Mufasa was Simba and Nala’s father given how real lions are). I think the world we live in has proven that the kids who grew up on those didn’t overwhelmingly wind up in any toxic relationships with older people (…or their siblings…) and if they did it was unlikely that a Disney movie or Sailor Moon was the root cause.

      When we examine the show itself, it’s two people who have a deep connection who balance one another out and fulfill one another emotionally. Neither is exploiting or manipulating the other (indeed, the fanbase’s biggest critique of Mamoru seems to have been his alleged lack of emotion), there is no sexual intercourse of any kind going on and they even know they are bound to be together by destiny. I think when destiny itself (and Usagi’s mother…both of them) is saying it’s okay we can say within the context of the show it’s okay.

  6. Dude, in the manga they are clearly indicated to be making out (if not going hard on the heavy petting or sex) on the floor during the Black Moon arc. He’s 16, she’s 14, almost 15. So yeah, maybe if you’re a puritan and you read the stats alone on paper, it would be iffy. But they’re clearly consenting, and imo, real life teenagers do way more…

    You know what IS weird tho? That Usagi marries at 16. Maybe 18 if I’m being generous and Mamoru is being scholarly (and making her finish highschool). And she’s already pregnant as they’re exiting the chapel. Whoo, slow down, buns, you’ve literally got forever….

    • Usagi marries at the age of 21 and gives birth at the age of 22. Which means she would have to be pregnant on the day of her wedding for the 9 months gestation period for her to give birth Exactly on her birthday at 22.

      Nothing is weird about that. It just means she married some time during late summer early fall which is after both her and Mamoru’s birthday and possibly happened sometime during October.

  7. why was mamoru even aged up in the anime in the first place? i dont really get why they did that.

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