Asteroid Senshi

Sailor Senshi

A is a type of heroine from the metaseries known as Sailor Moon. The name comes from sailor fuku, a type of school uniform, and senshi, which can mean soldier or warrior. A fusion of English and Japanese, this term was originally applied by series creator Naoko Takeuchi and is commonly used by fans of both languages. The translation "Sailor Soldier" is also common, used not only by English-speaking fans but also appearing in the stage musicals. The live action series translates the word as "Guardian". The DiC dub of the anime used "Sailor Scout" for the majority of its run; other common titles include "Sailor Warriors," "Sailors," or simply "Senshi." Like most Japanese loanwords, the word Senshi is both the singular and plural form.

Sailor Senshi are classic magical girl heroines, having both civilian and magical identities—that is, the same character may exist as both Sailor Mercury (one of the Senshi) and as Ami Mizuno, the school girl. Each Senshi has a transformation sequence which grants her a uniform in her own theme colors and her own kind of elemental power; these powers come from an object called a "Sailor Crystal" which is said to be within each of them. Objects gained with their uniform, such as Sailor Moon's tiara, can also be used as weapons. According to Naoko Takeuchi, only females can be Sailor Senshi, although there is at least one male with a Sailor Crystal. This is Mamoru Chiba, who is the guardian over the planet Earth and gives himself the pseudonym "Tuxedo Mask." In the manga only, he has subtle powers of psychometry.

The most iconic and well-known Senshi is Sailor Moon herself, who leads the primary group of Senshi in defending the Earth (or the galaxy, if necessary) from otherworldly threats. Officially, there are ten people in this team: herself, Sailor Chibi Moon, and eight planetary Senshi named after the planets of the solar system, including Pluto but not Earth.

When referring to a group, the terms "Sailor Senshi" and "Sailor Team" are used with multiple meanings in the series itself. The former may be used to indicate the entire classification of heroines, but either may also mean the ten planetary Senshi, or the group of five comprising Sailor Moon and her four Guardian Senshi (see below) in particular. Usually the intended group may be discerned from context, but usage of this term can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the series.

Sailor Team

The Sailor Team often divides itself into subsets, based both on civilian age and on Senshi-related duties. Within the story it is usually quite clear who belongs in which group, as they tend to work separately, so the differences are rarely referred to within the series. Official titles do exist to disambiguate between the groups, which are here shortened to "Guardian Senshi" and "Outer Senshi". English-speaking fans usually use the non-canonical term "Inner Senshi" for the first group.

In the stage musicals only, the terms naibu taiyōkei yon senshi ("inner solar system four warriors") and gaibu taiyōkei yon senshi ("outer solar system four warriors") are used. Because of this, the non-canonical terms gaibu senshi (外部戦士) and naibu senshi (内部戦士) are occasionally seen in use by Japanese fans. However, these titles never appear in the manga, anime, or live-action series. Specialized terms appearing in those sources are noted below.

Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon are both members of the Sailor Team, but are not included in either of these subgroups. In the manga, Sailor Chibi Moon is also part of her own team made up of herself and the Sailor Quartet.

Guardian Senshi

The Guardian Senshi (often called Inner Senshi) consist of the four Senshi who serve as Sailor Moon's closest protectors, named for the four innermost planets of the solar system (sans Earth). These are Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. With Sailor Moon at the head, they form a sentai (a group of five superheroes), and are the primary characters of the various series. In the manga, their full group name is , although this is very rarely used.

The storyline holds that, in their past life, these four were the guardians of Princess Serenity since her birth and lived with her in the Moon Kingdom. When their utopic way of life was destroyed, the five were reborn on Earth in the 20th century as Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) and her best friends, Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury), Rei Hino (Sailor Mars), Makoto Kino (Sailor Jupiter), and Minako Aino (Sailor Venus). They are all fourteen years old when the main story begins.

The Guardian Senshi are typically portrayed as more connected to their human lives, and to the world itself, than are the Outer Senshi. Although there are moments where this does not hold true, they tend to be warmer, sillier, and more open to outside help. If at all possible, they always try to save everyone they can in a fight rather than making sacrifices. They each eventually acquire accessory weapons, but these are not quite as critical or as tied to their powers as those of the Outer Senshi. The Guardian Senshi themselves are also rather less powerful as well as less mature; nevertheless, it is often through their compassion and perseverance, rather than through force, that victories are achieved.

Modern astronomy divides the inner solar system from the outer by the location of the asteroid belt and the switch from terrestrial planets to gas giants. Both of these distinctions would place Jupiter in the outer system, whereas the series includes Sailor Jupiter among the "Inner" or Guardian Senshi.

Outer Senshi

The Outer Senshi are those who defend the solar system from external threats, named after the four planets furthest from the sun. These are Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The series treats these characters very differently than do the fans—they are considered a group of three, with Saturn excluded due to her unique role in the story. In the manga, they are officially called the , and use this name to refer to themselves in the anime as well. The Guardian Senshi usually refer to them as "Uranus-tachi," meaning roughly "Uranus and the others."

In the age of the Silver Millennium, Sailors Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were the guardians of the solar system's edge and were instructed to fend off any alien attacks. Sailor Saturn was not among them, as she is the bringer of destruction and ruin. In the manga their backstory is more complicated: it had always been the other Outer Senshi's duty to prevent Sailor Saturn's birth, but when they gathered to witness the Moon Kingdom's destruction at the hands of the Dark Kingdom, the Outers inadvertently allowed Saturn to be born so that she could destroy the remnants of the kingdoms of Earth and Moon. All four are then reborn as in the anime. In both storylines, Sailor Pluto plays a double role as the guardian of the Gates of Time (the manga extends her duties by hinting that she is also guardian of the underworld).

On Earth, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune become, respectively, Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, partners and lovers a year older than the Guardian Senshi. They work together for some time before being joined by Setsuna Meioh (Sailor Pluto), who is a college student, and Hotaru Tomoe (Sailor Saturn), who is much younger (and whose age varies due to rebirth and accelerated growth).

The Outer Senshi are all depicted as charming, mature, and personable in their civilian forms, and the Guardian Senshi admire them enormously. However, they are also extremely dedicated to their role as soldiers, and, should they determine that sacrifices need to be made, can be entirely ruthless with allies as well as enemies. While in Senshi form, they are cold, aloof, and are not inclined to trust offers of help from other groups, preferring to work alone, even to the exclusion of the Guardian Senshi (although Pluto and Saturn are more open to working with the Guardian Senshi than Uranus and Neptune are). Each of the Outer Senshi fights with a special weapon; Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto bear the three Talismans, and Sailor Saturn carries the Silence Glaive, which is capable of destroying whole worlds. In general, the Outer Senshi are more powerful than the Guardians: Sailor Uranus is physically the strongest, Sailor Neptune is granted special visions by use of her mirror, Sailor Pluto can stop time itself, and Sailor Saturn is regarded as the most powerful of all, second only to Sailor Moon (she is even able to block attacks from Sailor Galaxia, one of the most powerful Senshi in the universe).

Pluto mediates between Uranus and Neptune and the other Senshi.

At the time the series was written, Pluto was fully considered a planet, although it has since been classified as a dwarf planet. On the other hand, modern astrology (both Western and Eastern) divides the planets between Saturn and Uranus: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were only recently discovered, and are not visible from Earth with the naked eye, while the other planets have been known since antiquity.

Uniform and power-ups

The uniform worn by the Sailor Senshi is modelled after a popular style of Japanese school uniform, the sērā fuku or "sailor suit". Creator Naoko Takeuchi attributes the idea for this motif to her editor, Fumio Osano. Originally, each of the Senshi had her own fairly unique outfit, related to the others only in its basic form, but in later stages of character design Takeuchi settled on a more unified appearance. Within the Sailor Team, the only outfit with significant variance from the others is that worn by Sailor Venus during her time as Sailor V, most notably in the manga of the same name, which was created before the Sailor Moon series.

As the Senshi gain additional powers and insights, the features of their uniforms change to reflect these advancements. Most of them have unique traits to begin with (such as Sailor Mercury's and Sailor Pluto's lack of sleeves, Sailor Neptune's neck-pendant, or Sailor Saturn's spiked gloves and other unique features), but as the group becomes more powerful, their indivual uniforms become more similar, until finally the only differences are in color scheme. The "Moon" Senshi are frequently exceptions, but over the course of the series, the other characters pass through three basic phases:

  1. Their original forms are basically the same, but have some individual variety. They are also slightly themed according to sub-group; for instance, the Outer Senshi do not have stripes on their collars, while the Inner Senshi each have one or two. In the manga, the Inner Senshi gain a few upgrades before fully changing to their second forms, as with the alteration of their brooches from circles to hearts.
  2. Their second forms become a little more similar to each other, but allow for some distinctions to remain, such as earrings and shoe-style. When Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi Moon take on this form, they are called "Super Sailor Moon" and "Super Sailor Chibi Moon". In the manga the others do not change their names accordingly, but in the anime they do.
  3. Their third forms are entirely identical in form to one another, and are generally the most ornate. When Sailor Moon takes on this form, she becomes "Eternal Sailor Moon," gains wings and loses her tiara; the others do not reflect any of these three changes. This form never appears in the anime for anyone but Sailor Moon.

When the Sailor Senshi of the 30th century are shown during the second story arc, they are depicted in their original uniforms, without any enhancement. Chronologically, this was prior to the introduction of costume changes for most of the characters, so it may be a plot hole; whether or not Takeuchi has developed an explanation for the "revert" is unknown.

Sailor Moon, whatever form she takes, always has a more elaborate costume than any of the others. Among other things, in her first form she has hair ornaments, in her second she adds a multi-colored skirt, and in her third she gains wings and a three-layered skirt. She also gains minor, individual power-ups more frequently than any other character. Sailor Chibi Moon's progression is extremely similar, down to the hair-ornaments, and her uniform as Super Sailor Chibi Moon is almost identical to her predecessor's. Her third form, on the other hand, is more similar to that of the rest of the Sailor Team than to that of Eternal Sailor Moon.

Senshi originating from outside the Solar System generally have very different and widely varying outfits, but are all connected by a single feature, the sailor collar.

Diagram

Variants

As the story progresses, it is eventually discovered that there are other Senshi throughout the galaxy. In the manga, the first of these to appear are the Sailor Quartet, often referred to in English fandom as the "Asteroid Senshi." These are the future protectors and companions of Sailor Chibi Moon, just as the Guardian Senshi are to Sailor Moon. Until the 30th century they are supposed to be in a deep sleep, waiting for Sailor Chibi Moon to be ready, though they are briefly forced into the services of the Dead Moon Circus.

In the fifth major story arc, especially that of the manga, it is revealed that Sailor Senshi number possibly in the thousands across the galaxy, protecting many of the stars, planets, and celestial bodies. This story arc is largely concerned with the Sailor Wars, an ancient, epic struggle between all Sailor Senshi and the forces of darkness. In the manga, all of Sailor Moon's previous enemies are portrayed as small parts of this galactic war, each of them having been connected with the ultimate evil being known as Chaos.

The primary servant of Chaos is Sailor Galaxia, who was once the most powerful Sailor Senshi in existence and the great hope of the galaxy. In her effort to subdue Chaos, she was possessed by him, and went on a galactic rampage under his will. By the time she reaches Earth, she has seized starseeds from countless Senshi that she either killed or forced into service. Under her command are numerous warriors who are former Sailor Senshi that have turned to evil. In the manga, the Sailor Animamates are ordinary fighters who betrayed and killed the true Senshi of their planets in hopes of being rewarded by Galaxia.

Of all the planets Galaxia attacked prior to Earth, only one produced survivors who continued to oppose her. This was a fictional world called Kinmoku, the home of the most prominent of these "alien" Senshi, the Sailor Starlights. The Starlights are a trio of Senshi who arrive on Earth in search of their Princess Kakyuu, who they believe also survived. While on Earth, they disguise themselves as men--in the manga by crossdressing, and in the anime by physically transforming into male bodies. This plays with the notion of all Senshi being female, without technically breaking the rules. The gender-shifting idea was not approved by Naoko Takeuchi, who has often expressed shock at the change to the anime. In the manga, Princess Kakyuu, like Princess Serenity, is a Sailor Senshi herself (Sailor Kakyuu).

In both the anime and manga, a small girl named ChibiChibi appears during this arc. She has the ability to transform into Sailor ChibiChibi (Called Sailor ChibiChibi Moon on a sticker included in the manga's second run), and helps the Senshi in various ways. ChibiChibi is unusual in that she is only an alter-ego; in the anime, she is the pure star seed of Sailor Galaxia, sent away to keep it from being corrupted. In the manga, she is actually Sailor Cosmos, the ultimate form of the future Sailor Moon. Whether this makes her the Usagi of the future is never stated. In the manga, the evil and powerful Sailor Chaos also exists in the future inhabited by Sailor Cosmos.

Other Senshi appear in the manga, such as Usagi's non-canonical second daughter, Kousagi, who appears as "Parallel Sailor Moon" in a humorous short story of the same name. Another short story, The Story of the Hammer Price Shrine, centers around two girls named Naruru and Ruruna who imitate Senshi, along with a man who calls himself Tubby Mask. The Sailor Moon musicals also introduce new Senshi, including Sailor Astarte, Sailor Buttress and others.

The concept behind Sailor Senshi holds so much potential for variation that it has become an extremely common source of inspiration for fanfiction. The idea has expanded into a meme in which fans of the series create their own original Sailor Senshi, sometimes called "Otaku Senshi", with their own unique designs and often in-depth character profiles. The characters range widely in their appearance and relevance to the original story.

Sailor Crystals

A Sailor Crystal is the name of the special star seed given to Sailor Senshi in the manga continuity. The anime Sailor Stars calls the starseed carried by a Sailor Senshi a "true" or "eternal" star seed.

In the manga, Sailor Crystals are introduced in the Dream Arc and fully expanded on in the Stars arc. Pegasus gives the Guardian Senshi their Crystals in the anime, but in the manga, they come from different sources. Sailors Mercury and Jupiter receive theirs from their Power Guardians, Sailor Mars from Phobos and Deimos, and Sailor Venus from Artemis. In both anime and manga, Hotaru gives the other three Outer Senshi their own Crystals. However, it is only in the manga that Tuxedo Mask receives the Golden Crystal of Elysion as his Sailor Crystal.

Sailor Moon learns about Sailor Crystals and their power in a conversation with one of the Sailor Starlights, Kou Yaten, in which she explains how Sailor Crystals were made to protect the celestial bodies they were assigned to. The manga explains that star seeds are created in the Galaxy Cauldron, a sacred place located at the center of the galaxy and guarded by Guardian Cosmos. Some star seeds grow into Sailor Crystals and are sent to planets and other celestial bodies to develop with them. Eventually, a Sailor Crystal usually takes a host, and is subsequently 'born' into a Sailor Senshi. This Sailor Senshi is then the guardian of that celestial body. Upon the death of a living being, its star seed returns to the Cauldron, and can choose to either remain there or be reborn.

Generally speaking, Sailor Crystals are simply named for the Senshi to whom they belong (e.g. the Mercury Crystal). Named exceptions are the Silver Moon Crystal of Sailor Moon, the Pink Moon Crystal of Sailor Chibi Moon, the Golden Crystal of Tuxedo Mask, and the Saffer Crystal of Sailor Galaxia.

In the anime the "true star seeds" are the main revolving point of the fifth story arc. The anime does not fully explain the nature of true star seeds, although it goes into detail about regular star seeds. The shine of a regular star seed fades when the seed is separated from its owner, who then becomes a phage, or a fake Sailor Soldier. Star seeds with an everlasting shine are True Star Seeds, which are sought by Sailor Galaxia.

The Sailor Moon musicals have not consistently explained the nature of Sailor Crystals. They are not mentioned at all in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.

Critical attention

Sailor Moon is described largely in terms of its characters—a sustained, 18-volume narrative about a group of young heroines who are simultaneously heroic and introspective, active and emotional, dutiful and ambitious. The combination proved extremely successful, and Sailor Moon became internationally popular in both manga and anime formats.

The function of the Sailor Senshi themselves has been analysed by critics, often in terms of the Girl Power movement of the 1990s. Susan J. Napier describes the Sailor Senshi as "powerful, yet childlike," suggesting that this is because Sailor Moon is aimed towards an audience of young girls. She states that the Sailor Senshi readily accept their powers and destinies and do not agonize over them, which can be read as an expression of power and success. The Senshi have also been described as merging male and female traits, being both desirable and powerful. As sexualized teen heroines, they are significantly different from the sexless representation of 1980s teen heroines such as Nausicaä. Anne Allison notes that the use of the sailor fuku as a costume makes it easy for girls to identify with the Senshi, but also for older males to see the Senshi as sex symbols.

Mary Grigsby considers that the Sailor Senshi blend ancient characteristics and symbols of femininity and modern ideas, reminding the audience of a pre-modern time when females were equal to males, but other critics draw parallels with the modern character type of the aggressive cyborg woman, pointing out that the Senshi are augmented by their magical equipment.

Within the series, the daily lives of the girls have been described as risoukyou, or "utopic," by Kazuko Minomiya. They are shown as enjoying many leisure activities such as shopping, visiting amusement parks, and hanging out at the Crown Arcade. According to Allison, Minomiya points out that the depiction of life is harder and more serious for male superheroes. The transformation that the Senshi go through has been said to "symbolically separate" the negative aspects of the characters (laziness, for example) and the positive aspects of the superheroine.

Differences in character between the Senshi are reflected in their hairstyles, fashion, and magical items, which has translated well into doll lines. Sales of the Sailor Senshi fashion dolls overtook those of Licca-chan in the 1990s. Mattel suggested that this was due to the "fashion-action" blend of the Sailor Moon storyline; doll accessories included both fashion items and the Senshi's weapons.

References

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