One of my favourite new pastimes is watching “theory” videos on YouTube. Super Carlin Brothers, Film Theorists, Harry Potter Folklore, ProtoMario, Seamus Gorman…
Wow, I spend a lot of time on YouTube.
Anyway, as a writer, I enjoy listening to other fans try to answer questions that I or others have about the stories I love. Even if I disagree with them, I see it as a way to get my artistic gears turning.
This past week, I thought it would be interesting to see a theory video on why there is so much English in one of my favourite childhood anime: Sailor Moon.
And there’s a lot of English. Even in the Japanese versions of the franchise, the Sailor Senshi’s names are all English, taken from the English names for the celestial bodies, rather than the Japanese: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, Sailor Neptune, etc (Sailor Chibi Moon is the only exception, having the Japanese word ちび [chibi], meaning “small”).
What’s more, their transformation phrases are in English (“Moon Prism Power, Make-Up!“), as are the incantations they speak to launch their attacks (“Moon Tiara Action!“).
Even Sailor Senshi from outside our Solar System have English names! Sailor Star Fighter, Sailor Star Healer, and Sailor Star Maker all have English-based nomenclature in their names, attacks, and transformation phrases.
And there’s Queen Serenity and her daughter Princess Serenity, who is Sailor Moon’s past life. Both the Queen and Princess lived on the Moon during the Silver Millennium, “a peaceful time period during the prehistoric age”. The English language originated “in the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD” (Wikipedia), which, in case you’re not sure, is long after the prehistoric age!
So why is there so much English in names and incantations from not only the prehistoric era of our Solar System, but in those of aliens who come from faraway planets?
Of course, I could just chalk it up to the fact that Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon‘s creator and manga artist (漫画家, mangaka), just probably thought English sounded nice or something. Using foreign languages is a fairly common tactic of fantasy writing. For example, the term “Argetlam”, as used in The Inheritance Cycle, is from Old Irish.
But the thing with the theory genre of videos is that it both acknowledges and (more importantly) ignores the fact that there’s often a real-world explanation for many of these things and tries to explain things within the world/universe/multiverse that the movie, book, game, etc is set in.
Has any of you ever given this any thought? What would your theory be as to why English is so prevalent in the Sailor Moon names and incantations where it “shouldn’t” be?