Sailor Moon-ology: Exploring History and Science With the Sailor Senshi
Sailor Senshis by NikitaCosplay
Sailor Moon English Opening
Hey everyone! Welcome to Sailor Moon-ology, my new fan project here on Hubpages. My name is Rebekah, and I am a graduate student of history and literature. I received my B.A. in Pre-Modern World History with a minor in Francophone Studies. I was about one or two classes shy of minoring in both Classical Studies and Asian Studies, both of which are surprisingly relevant to this project! But, I decided I didn’t want to hate myself anymore and just wanted to graduate. So here I am!
I originally did a very short version of this project for a cosplay/geek culture event at work a few months ago, and decided I wanted to expand it in my spare time. Ha! As if I have spare time. As a student of history and literature and just a big fan of Sailor Moon in general, I have always loved the depth of the show that isn’t always noticeable at the surface. What I’ve done here is some research into not just the mythology, but also the astrology, astronomy, and history behind this amazing series. Further, just as the show combines elements of Greco-Roman traditions with East Asian traditions, I’ll be looking into both as well, comparing and contrasting the two and how they are presented in Sailor Moon, rather than focusing on one or the other.
The other thing I’m going to try and do is follow all three incarnations of the series- that is, manga, original 90s dub, and the Crystal reboot, subtitled. This is because, as is typical of anime adaptations, especially in the 90s, there are a lot of differences, and with the 2010s trend of rebooting unfinished or poorly adapted series, Crystal is much more faithful to the manga while still allowing a few nuances that might be interesting to look into for this project. On that note- I will likely refer to the Sailors as Scouts, Guardians, Soldiers, and Senshi, randomly throughout the presentation. I’ll try my best to keep it standard, but I make no promises. I will also likely refer to a few of the characters by their 90s English names, not because I like them better, but because those are the names I grew up with, for better or for worse, and let’s face it, old habits die hard.
Please note, I will be very unlikely to include anything from the musicals or live-actions. Yes, I know they are a thing that exists, but they exist so drastically far from Ms Takeuchi's work (in my opinion) that I am choosing to exclude them. Besides, if I were to include everything this project would never end!
So, anyway, let’s start! And where is the best place to start when analyzing a tv show? For me, it’s the opening theme. The opening theme is generally the first overview of a show. It’s meant to snag you and make you interested in what is to come, and let’s just say, Sailor Moon has one of the greatest openings around. I’ll play both the original 90s and the Crystal openings and then discuss a few nuances in the lyrics. Enjoy!
Which is your favorite incarnation of Sailor Moon?
Moonlight Densetsu full
Moon Pride full
Which Sailor Moon opening is your favorite?
OUR SOLAR SYSTEM at-a-glance
Let’s dive into a bit of the astronomy aspect of this project, and please forgive me, I am a dunce when it comes to the finer details of science. This, hopefully, is basic enough for me not to mess up, but ultimately, I’m only going so far with the astronomy as it directly relates to the Sailor Moon Universe. I am a historian, not a scientist!
So, our solar system is heliocentric, which means “sun-centered.” Hence the term, solar system. The order, in simplest terms, of the objects in our system from the Sun outward are Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Moon, Mars and its moons, the Asteroid Belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
Next we’ve got a few basic bits of vocab.
The definitions here are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll read through them. “Astro” is most commonly used as a prefix and comes from the Ancient Greek root which means “celestial body.” That is, most anything that is a celestial body, or an outer space object, is usually referred to in science as having something to do with “Astro.” Astronomy, Astrophysics, Astrology… The root “astro” generally applies to a kind of science pertaining to the study of the stars, planets, and outer space in general.
Opposite Astro, we have “Geo” which focuses on Earth sciences, more broadly terrestrial or physical sciences including the study of Mars and the Moon. This will be more relevant when I start discussing the villains of the Sailor Moon Universe much, much later.
The suffix “-ology” also from a Greek root, means the “study of something.” You see this tacked onto a lot of different sciences, but also non-scientific study as well. Specifically in our case, Astrology, which will also be delved into just a bit.
Lastly, and directly relevant to astrology, the word “zodiac” is also from Ancient Greek. It means “cycle (or circle) of little animals.” Due to the fact that the creator of Sailor Moon assigned specific birthdays to most of her characters, I consider it relevant enough to the universe to analyse. Ironically, there is little to no mention of the Chinese zodiac in the series!
WU XING and YINYANG
There are two final concepts I want to discuss before we move one. The first concept is probably very well known to most of you, so I won’t spend much time on it. Yinyang is a concept of dualism into which much of Ancient philosophy is placed. It means dark-bright or negative-positive; but it is simply a means of expressing how opposite or contrary forces are complementary and interconnected. Don’t think of it as contrary opposites like fire and water, which do not mix well. Think of it as Sun and Moon. Both are beautiful and complement each other even though they’re very opposite forces.
The second concept is Wu Xing, known variously as the Five Elements, Five Movements, Five Phases, Five Planets, Five Ways, and multiple others. The full translated name for this means “the five types of chi dominating at different times.” Xing in this phrase means moving; planet in Mandarin is called a “moving star.”
The five movements from the topmost clockwise are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. I’ve also listed the Japanese words, as the Mandarin are in the diagram. Moku, or Ki, is Wood. Ka, or Hi, is Fire. Do, or To, is Earth. Kin is Metal. Sui, or Mizu, is Water.
The primary cycle is the generating cycle, or sometimes the engendering cycle, and is as follows: Wood feeds Fire, Fire creates Earth through ash, Earth bears Metal, Metal collects Water, and Water nourishes wood. This is the positive movement because each element is creating or empowering the next.
The secondary cycle is the overcoming cycle, or sometimes the restraining cycle, is the star in the center. It is Wood parts Earth, Earth dams Water, Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, and Metal chops Wood. This is the negative movement because each element is destroying or controlling the next. Keep in mind when I say positive/negative, I don’t mean mean good/bad; it’s more of a yin/yang harmony. It’s more of a forward movement and a reverse movement.
THE SEVEN LUMINARIES (seven classical planets)
So, where do we begin with such a lengthy analysis as I propose to do? I have organized this project in a very specific way, which means I may be popping back and forth with spoilers, and generally out of traditional order of the Sailor Scouts. This has to do with the the Seven Classical Planets. Or, as they are called in East Asian traditions, the Seven Luminaries.
Cultures around the world identified seven “wanderers” in the sky. They are, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. These are the moveable celestial objects which are most visible to the naked eye, and were studied by ancient astronomers. This is where we’re starting, so your homework for next time is to read up on the Seven Classical planets, and we’ll see what you’ve learned!
Next time: The Moon, part 1!
I welcome constructive criticism and feedback- so if there are things you disagree with or think I misinterpreted, please leave a comment! If you’re loving this and want to ask questions or pick my brain, leave a comment!
So, anyway! Please check out my Ko-Fi site if you are so inclined, and let me know what you think or if there are any questions you want to see answered in later videos. Sailor Moon says, see ya!