The Sailor Moon series was first released in 1992, and since then, has become one of the most beloved manga and anime series of all time.
When introducing Japanese series, it is not uncommon to make certain changes in order to appeal more towards a western audience. In the case of the Sailor Moon series, the names of the Sailor Soldiers and other characters, such as Tuxedo Mask, were changed to more familiar sounding names. Unfortunately, the hidden meaning behind the names in the Japanese original was lost along the way. So, let’s take a look at the true names of the most beloved Sailor Moon characters.
The heroic Soldier of Love and Justice is called Serena Tsukino in the English version of the series. In the original series, however, her name is Usagi Tsukino. In Japanese, “usagi” means “rabbit”, “tsuki” means “moon”, and “no”, while in the kanji for last names means “field”, its sound also means “of”. Taking into account that in Japan, names are given in the order surname-given name, Tsukino Usagi translates to “rabbit of the moon”. This might not make much sense to people raised in Western culture, but if you are familiar with the Japanese culture, you will know that instead of a man, there is a legend about a rabbit sitting on the moon, pounding mochi.
Amy Mizuno, the Soldier of Water and Wisdom, is named Ami Mizuno, or to be more precise, Mizuno Ami in the Japanese original. “Mizu” means “water”, “no” means “of”, and based on the Chinese characters used for Ami, “a” means “center”, and “mi” means “beautiful”. Translated, her name, therefore, means “beautiful center of water”. However, there is a theory according to which the meaning of “Ami” is actually based on the French word for “friend”, thus, giving her name the meaning “friend of water”.
Another interesting fact is that the planet Mercury is called “water star” in Japanese.
Raye Hino is the beautiful Soldier of Fire and Passion in the Sailor Moon series. Her Japanese name, Hino Rei, consists of the words “hi”, which means “fire”, “no”, which means “of”, and “rei”, which has the meaning of “spirit”. Hence, her name translates to “spirit of fire”. Also, the planet Mars is referred to as “fire star” in Japanese.
The name of Sailor Jupiter, Soldier of Thunder and Strength, is Lita Kino in the English version. In the Japanese version, she goes by the name of Kino Makoto. “Ki” means “wood”, “makoto” means “faithfulness” or “wisdom”, and “no”, well, I’m sure at this point you know what “no” means. This gives her name the meaning of “faith/wisdom of wood”.
The reason why her name has to do with wood instead of thunder is because, in Japanese, the planet Jupiter is called “wood star”.
Sailor Venus, Soldier of Love and Beauty, goes by the name of Mina Aino in the English version, and Aino Minako in the Japanese one. Based on the meaning of the Chinese characters used for her name, “ai” means “love”, “mi” means “beautiful”, “na” means “little”, and “ko” means “child”. Translated into English, her name, therefore, has the meaning of “beautiful little child of love”.
While you might think now that her name is somehow related to planet Venus – or “gold star” in Japanese – this is not the case for Aino Minako. The reason why her name doesn’t follow the same pattern as everyone else’s is because she originally was created for the Sailor V manga long before the other characters.
Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at the dashing Tuxedo Mask, a.k.a. Darien Shields, or Chiba Mamoru in the Japanese original. His name consists of the words “chiba”, which means “earth”, and “mamoru”, which means “protector”, giving his name the meaning of “earth protector”.
So, did you learn something new about your favorite character?