Name: Tsukino Usagi
Pronounced: Tskino Usagi
‘Tsuki’ (月) means ‘moon’ and ‘usagi’ means ‘rabbit’. The kanji ‘no’ (野) means ‘field’, but I believe it is used only for its syllable reading, since ‘no’ is also a possessive particle, that could give us the meaning “Rabbit of the Moon“. There’s a story in the Japanese folklore about a rabbit who lives on the moon and makes mochi (rice cakes), that was a possible inspiration for Takeuchi sensei when she designed Usagi’s character (there’s a reference to this story in the first season of the anime, when Luna is communicating with Artemis for the first time). It is likely that Takeuchi sensei was inspired by another story from the Japanese folklore called “Kaguya Hime”, that tells the story of Kaguya, the princess of the moon kingdom, who was sent to earth, raised by a mortal couple, and fell in love with the emperor. There are references to this story in the manga, anime (the second movie) and even in one episode of the live action.
Name: Tsukino Chibiusa
Pronounced: Tskino Chibiusa
Well, since we covered her last name already, let’s take a look at her first name. We know that she was named “Usagi” after her mother, so we can tell that “Chibiusa” is actually a nickname, but let’s examine it. The first two syllables, ‘chibi’, refers to something that’s small and cute (although many would disagree about her being cute, but that’s beside the point… ^^;;). The next two syllables, ‘usa’, are a short for “Usagi”. So, adding her last name – “Tsukino Chibiusa” is “Little Rabbit of the Moon“.
Name: Mizuno Ami
Pronounced: Mizuno Ami
The syllable reading of “Mizuno Ami” means “Friend of the Water” (when ‘ami’ is French for ‘friend’), but since her name is written with kanji, let’s see what they mean. ‘Mizu’ (水) means ‘water’ both in the syllable reading and the meaning of the kanji, while ‘no’ (野), ‘a’ (亜) and ‘mi’ (美) are used only in their syllable readings. As we saw before, ‘no’ (野) means ‘field’, the kanji ‘a’ (亜) means ‘sub’, and ‘mi’ (美), means ‘beautiful’. By the meanings of the kanji, another interpenetration of her name could be “A Beautiful Underwater Field“, which is also kind’a nice ^^.
Name: Hino Rei
Pronounced: Hino Rei (or Lei)
The kanji ‘hi’ (火) means ‘fire’ both in its syllable reading and meaning, and ‘no’ (野) is used again as a possessive particle. Her first name, however, is pretty interesting. The word ‘rei’ is not written in kanji, but in katakana (the fonetic writing that’s usually used for foreign words), which gives it many meanings. It could be ‘soul’, ‘command’ or ‘practice’, that can all be put together with “… of Fire” (“Soul of Fire”, “Practice of Fire” and “Command of Fire”) and they would all fit. The fact it’s written with katakana could also indicate it’s the English word ‘ray’. However, the most common interpretation of her name is “Soul of fire“.
Name: Kino Makoto
Pronounced: Kino Makoto
The kanji ‘ki’ (木) means ‘tree’ both in its syllable reading and meaning, and ‘no’ (野), as we already know, is a possessive particle. Her first name, ‘makoto’, means both ‘wisdom’ and ‘truth’ (since the words of the wise are true… ^^), so her name means “Truth/Wisdom of the Trees“. An interesting thing is that ‘Makoto’ is a widely used name for boys in Japan, which may relate to her being “boyish”.
Name: Aino Minako
Pronounced: Aino Minako
Her name is written all in kanji, which makes the interpretation very easy. The kanji ‘ai’ (愛) mean ‘love’ (and maybe that’s why they say love is complicated…? ^^;;), the kanji ‘no’ (野) is a possessive particle again, the kanji ‘mi’ (美) means ‘beautiful’ (as we saw in ‘ami’). The kanji ‘na’ (奈) has no meaning by itself, which means it’s used here only in its syllable reading. ‘Ko’ (子) means ‘child’, and is usually used as an ending in girls’ names in Japan. So, putting together all of the above, “Aino minako” means “A Beautiful Child of Love“.
Name: Tenou Haruka
Pronounced: Tenō Haruka
The kanji ‘ten’ (天) means ‘sky’ and ‘heaven’, and ‘ou’ (王) means king. So ‘tenou’ means ‘king of the sky’ or ‘heavenly king’, and it’s the title given to the Japanese emperors. ‘Haruka’ means ‘distant’, so putting all the pieces together, “Tenou Haruka” means “King of the Distant Heaven“.
Name: Kaiou Michiru
Pronounced: Kaiō Michiru
The kanji ‘kai’ (海) is used only for its Chinese reading only (since the Japanese have adapted the kanji from China to fit into their language, every kanji has two readings, a Chinese and a Japanese one, and sometimes even more then two). The meaning of this kanji is ‘ocean’, and its Japanese reading is ‘umi’. Next to it is ‘ou’ (王), that ,as we’ve already seen, means ‘king’. ‘Michiru’ means ‘to rise / tide’, so “Kaiou Michiru” means “King of the Ocean Tide“.
Name: Meiou Setsuna
Pronounced: Meiō Setsuna
The kanji ‘mei’ (冥) means ‘dark’ both by its syllable reading and meaning, and ‘ou’ (王) is ‘king’ once again. ‘Setsuna’ means ‘moment’, so “Meiou Setsuna” can be either “Dark King of the Moment“, or “King of a Dark Moment“.
Name: Tomoe Hotaru
Pronounced: Tomoe Hotaru
“Tomoe” is a Japanese abstract shape that resembles a comma and a common design element in family crests, and a pretty popular last name in Japan (there was also a female samurai in the Japanese history called Tomoe Gozen, who fought in the Gempei war, and was said to be very beautiful and brave). But let’s take a look at the kanji themselves, shall we? ‘To’ (土), that can be sometimes read ‘do’, means ‘earth / ground’, and ‘moe’ (萠) is the action of sprouting, budding or rising. ‘Hotaru’ means ‘firefly’, so in this case I believe ‘moe’ is ‘rising’, which gives “Tomoe Hotaru” the meaning of “Firefly Rising From the Ground“.