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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 ↩
- 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. ↩
- See Coming of Age (Wikipedia) ↩
- For a translation, see Penal Code – Act No. 45 of 1907 ↩