Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is a manga series by Naoko Takeuchi about a middle school student named Usagi (“Serena” in the US version) who discovers that she is actually a magical warrior named Sailor Moon. Together with her group of Sailor Scouts, she defends the Earth from evil. The Sailor Moon manga and anime are incredibly popular both in Japan and internationally.
1. Parallel Storyline
Before Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi had a manga series called Codename: Sailor V, about Minako Aino, who meets a little white cat named Artemis, who tells her that she secretly has powers. Any fan of Sailor Moon knows that Minako becomes Sailor Venus. The Sailor Moon series is in the same universe, which is why Serena is a fan of Sailor V in the beginning. Both manga series continued simultaneously.
2. Based on a True Story
In the Japanese version of Sailor Moon, Usagi’s parents and brother are named after and based on Takeuchi’s real-life family. Takeuchi also claims that out of all the characters, Usagi’s/Serena's personality is most like hers.
Takeuchi earned her degree in Chemistry before she became a professional manga artist, and she was very interested in science. This is why she named all of the villains after gemstones, and scientific facts randomly make their way into the manga.
4. Crisis Averted
Before translating the anime in the United States, a North American animation company called Toon Makers wanted to do an American version of Sailor Moon and air it on Fox. There were live-action actresses to play the scenes where the girls were in school, while they magical fight scenes were animated. The show was (thankfully) never realized.
5. Hi, My Name Is...
When DiC picked up the rights to make the English dub, they wanted to name the Sailor scouts Victoria (for Sailor Moon), Blue (Sailor Mercury), Dana (Sailor Mars), Sara (Sailor Jupiter), and Carrie (Sailor Venus). DiC eventually decided to change their names to the ones we know now: Serena, Amy, Raye, Lita, and Mina. For many of the girls, their English names match as closely to the Japanese versions as possible (Ami to Amy and Rei to Raye).
6. The Missing Link
Tuxedo Mask’s name in the Japanese version is Chiba Mamoru. It literally translates to “Protector of the Earth". Takeuchi says that Tuxedo Mask is basically Sailor Earth.
7. Just A Couple of Guys…
In the original Japanese version of the manga and anime, the villains Zoisite and Kunzite are two men in a same gender relationship. In the American version of the show, they change Zoisite’s character into a woman, since their relationship was too obvious to hide from the show. In other dubbed translations, writers chose to make Zoisite and Kunzite brothers in order to justify their close relationship.
8. In the Flesh
In 2003, a live action TV series of the anime, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, came out in Japan. There were a total of 49 episodes that aired as well as a couple direct-to-video episodes.
9. Hidden Message
When Serena ransforms into Sailor Moon, she does a hand motion. While she says, “In the name of the moon,” she is actually doing American Sign Language for “I love you".
At the end of Sailor Moon’s transformation, she makes a “V” symbol over her eyes. Some might interpret this as “peace” or “victory,” but this is originally Sailor V's pose.
“Usagi” means “Bunny” in Japanese. If you pay attention, there are a lot of rabbit images that pop up throughout the show. In the American dub, “Serena” means “serene, tranquil".
12. Put A Ring On It
The jewelry company Sapphire Studios sells Sailor Moon-themed rings and necklaces.
13. Power Couple
Takeuchi is married to Yoshihiro Togashi, who is the author of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter, which are both incredibly popular manga and anime series.
14. Success Story
Takeuchi’s works have come up on the New York Times Best Seller list multiple times. Takeuchi owns both a Ferrari and a Porsche.
15. Ready Player One
There have been nine different Sailor Moon video games made during the 1990s for Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn. There were also arcade games based on Sailor Moon.
16. Crafters, Unite!
The Sailor Moon fandom is still going strong: There are over 10,000 Sailor Moon-inspired items on Etsy.
Takeuchi wanted to be as accurate as she possibly could be with her stories, so she traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in the United States in order to learn more about space while she was writing “The Lover of Princess Kaguya". That story was eventually made into the Sailor Moon S movie.
In the original story, Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon have a love-hate relationship. Likewise, in the Japanese anime, Raye and Serena get into a lot of physical fights.
19. Love is Love
Two of the show's later characters, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, are in a romantic relationship in the Japanese version. The American version of the show censored the lesbian relationship, called them cousins, and cut entire scenes from the show.
20. Love Who You Are
Despite the fact that the show's international versions censored the original's LGBTQ content, fans of the show still found ways to watch the original Japanese version. Vice did a mini documentary, “How Sailor Moon Transformed Queer 90s Kids' Lives,” which interviewed fans who discussed the ways Sailor Moon helped them accept their own sexuality and gender identity.
21. Blurred Lines
In the Japanese version of the anime, the Scouts are undressed or nearly-undressed when they transform. The American version covered up the girls' bodies by erasing some of the line art.
22. In The Closet
In the Sailor Moon R movie, the villain, Fiore, expresses feelings for Tuxedo Mask. However, in the American dub version, these lines are downplayed, and the two are just childhood friends.
23. Body Positivity
Even though the American version censored a lot of controversial things from the Japanese version of the TV show, there was one good change: in the fourth episode of the japanese version, Usagi gains weight and starves herself to lose it. In the American dub, the show takes a more body positive angle and Serena is just encouraged to eat less junk food.
24. Underage Drinking
In the original Japanese anime, Usagi gets tipsy in a couple episodes. As a 14-year-old character, the American version did not want her to be tipsy on a children’s TV show. In the English dub, they claim that drinking the punch at a party made her sick, which explains her strange behaviour—and even her hangover the next day.
25. Flower Power
In the original manga, Tuxedo Mask never throws roses to attack villains. Maybe the animators thought it was more romantic?
Rather than keeping aspects of Japanese culture, the English version of the Sailor Moon anime removed all references to Japan. For example, kanji was removed, and scenes were cars were driving on the road were flipped to make everything on the right-hand side.
The American version of the show added a segment at the end called “Sailor Says” to wrap up the life lesson that kids should learn from watching each episode. These lessons include self-love, friendship, and never giving up on your dreams.
28. The Army of Magical Girls
In the Japanese version, the Scouts are called “Sailor Senshi". “Senshi” means “Soldier” or "Warrior". The first English dub, calls the girls “Sailor Scouts,” kind of like girl scouts. Even when the new English dub was released, the girls are still called Sailor Guardians.
29. Guardian Angels
Rei has two crows that hang out with her while she works at the shrine. Their names are never mentioned in the show, but they are Phobos and Deimos, which are the names of the two moons of Mars. In the manga, these birds actually transform into Sailor Phobos and Sailor Deimos, and they are meant to protect Sailor Mars.
30. Hidden Symbol
The symbols on the Sailor Scout transformation pens are all relatively accurate to the real planet symbols. When she transforms, Sailor Pluto has a symbol that looks like a P and L. Those are the initials of Percival Lowell, the man who discovered Pluto in 1930.
31. The Token Hipster
In the American version of the show, there is a character named Chad Holden-Ford who gets a job working at Raye’s family temple. He falls in love with her at first sight. The American version says that he is a struggling musician, which is why he has long hair and looks unkempt most of the time. In the original version, he’s a homeless man. In both versions, Chad turns out to be rich.
32. Strong Female Characters
Sailor Moon is one of the most famous and influential examples of the "magical girl" genre. Other magical girl animes include Card Captor Sakura, Magic Knight Rayearth, and the self-aware Puella Magi Madoka Magica; all were influenced by Sailor Moon.
33. International Best Seller
As of a record taken in 2012, the Sailor Moon series has sold over 35 million copies worldwide.
34. Fan Favorite
Sailor Moon is one of the most popular and widely recognized characters of all time: In 2004, a study showed that there are 3,335,000 different websites dedicated to Sailor Moon. In comparison, there are only 491,000 websites about Mickey Mouse.
35. Way Off Broadway
In Japan, there have been multiple showings of live Sailor Moon musicals. Kim Dao, an Australian YouTuber living in Tokyo, showed footage of what the experience is like. The shows are so popular that they sell special glasses that give subtitles in English.
36. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
In Harajuku, Japan, there is a seasonal cafe inspired by Sailor Moon. It’s so popular that people have to book their seats an entire month in advance. All of the food, drinks, decorations, and even the cups and plates are Sailor Moon-themed.
Sailor Moon may have sparked the anime craze in the United States, but most fans don't realize it was one of the most heavily censored shows adapted from a Japanese series. In fact, the original Sailor Moon contained so much adolescent and homosexuality that the producers actually didn't even air the final season on American television.
There was just no way to edit out the strong same gender and transgendered themes. The final season would have featured three new characters, the Sailor Star Lights, who come to Earth in search of their princess. The three pose as male pop idols who attempt to attract large female audiences and woo their princess through song.
The leader of the Star Lights winds up falling in love with Serena, and Serena begins to develop feelings for her as well. Once Serena discovers her love interest is female, she isn't phased in the slightest.
The final season is widely regarded as the best season of Sailor Moon in Japan.
To be frank, this final season doesn't even scratch the surface of the adult themes censored in the American version.