Writing was imported to Japan from China in the form of hieroglyph characters. They came into use by the Japanese in the 6th century (and were called “kanji”), but since the Japanese verbal language itself had already existed long before, the kanji was used for writing the existing Japanese words and grammar.
The result was, that each kanji character has 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 different ways of reading it (my Japanese teacher says you need to hear a person say his mane, otherwise you have no way of knowing how to pronounce it correctly). Complicated.
But what does all this have to do with the title of this article? Keep reading and find out. ^^
Since she is Japanese and uses kanji fluently, our lovely mangaka, Takeuchi sensei, is of course well known to the diffent readings each character has, and she is using that to create various puns in Sailor Moon (manga and anime). The most basic puns, are the names of the sailor senshi.
Let’s start with Sailor Mars. Her name is Hino Rei, written: 火野レイ. The meaning of the name (as explained in more details on this page) is “Soul of Fire”. It’s not a coincidence, of course, that she is the warrior of fire and has the word “fire” in her name… The kanji for fire is 火, and can be read in Japanese as hi, and also as ka.
I’m sure you’d be surprised to find that the Japanese word for Mars is kasei, written 火星. (sei, 星, is the character for “star”, so the name translates simply to “Fire Star”). I bet you’re all recalling Mars saying “Kasei ni kawatte, oshokyou!”, right?
But that’s not all. You can also find this ka in the Japanese word for Tuesday, 火曜日, read kayoubi. Huh. Interesting.
And it goes on: Mercury’s name is Mizuno Ami, 水野亜美. The first character is 水, which means, you guessed it: “water”. It can be read as Mizu, and Sui. The planet Mercury in Japanese is, correct again, Suisei (水星), and “Wednesday” is Suiyoubi (水曜日). Cool.
Moving on we have Sailor Jupiter, Kino Makoto, 木野まこと. Same rules apply here too. 木 is “tree/wood”, and can be read as Ki and Moku. “Jupiter” is Mokusei (木星), and “Thursday” is Mokuyoubi (木曜日).
Sailor Moon’s name is Tsukino Usagi, written 月野うさぎ. The meaning of the name is “Rabbit of the Moon”, while the kanji 月 means “moon” and can be read as Tsuki or as Getsu. Getsuyoubi (月曜日) is “Monday”. Sunday is named after the sun which is not a planet, and therefore not represented in any of the senshi names.
So what about Sailor Venus? Her name, Aino Minako (愛野美奈子), doesn’t really work out like the rest. “Venus is Kinsei (金星), and “Friday” is Kinyoubi (金曜日). The element here is Kin, 金, meaning “gold/metal”, but it does not appear in her name at all. How come? Well, I think this has to do with the fact that Minako was Takeuchi sensei’s first warrior, and in that time she didn’t give it much thought as she did with the rest of the names.
But it does continue with the outer senshi’s names. The first kanji in Sailor Saturn, Tomoe Hotaru’s name (土萠ほたる) is 土, which means “earth/ground” and can be read To or Do. And again, “Saturn” is Dosei (土星), and “Saturday” is Doyoubi (土曜日).
Now we ran out of the days of the week, but these connections can still be found in the remaining senshi names. Sailor Uranus’ name for example is Tenou Haruka (天王はるか). Tenou means “heavenly king”, written 天王, and can be found in Tenousei (天王星), which is the planet Uranus.
Sailor Neptune is Kaiou Michiru (海王みちる), and the same Kaiou (海王), which means “ocean king”, can be found in Kaiousei (海王星), the planet Neptune.
Same thing goes for Meiou Setsuna (冥王せつな), Sailor Pluto. Meiou (冥王) is “dark king”, and appears in Meiousei (冥王星), “Pluto”. In 2006, Pluto was redefined as a dwarf planet, but it was still a planet when Takeuchi sensei came up with Sailor Pluto.