Due to the series' widespread popularity in many countries, as well as her distinctive and oft-copied odango hairstyle, she is one of the most immediately recognizable and iconic anime characters worldwide. She is the only character to appear in all 200 episodes of the anime, and is present in all 52 acts of the manga as well as all 51 acts of the live-action series.
Serena, Usagi's given name in the English versions of the series, is derived from "Serenity," the name Usagi went by in her past life. In the English manga she is mostly called by the nickname Bunny, which is the literal meaning of usagi. Her boyfriend for most of the series, Mamoru Chiba, calls her by the affectionate nickname "Usako" (which is a diminutive, the suffix -ko meaning "child").
Her journey begins when, while running to school, she sees some neighborhood kids abusing a cat and rescues it (in the manga she accidentally steps on the cat). Later, the cat comes into her room and reveals herself as a talking cat named Luna, who serves as the mentor for the show. Luna gives her a magical brooch which helps her transform into Sailor Moon (the "soldier for love and justice"), and tells her that she is a Soldier who must fight for peace. She also tells her that she must find the rest of the Soldiers, as well as their princess. Though at first Usagi is portrayed as a "reluctant heroine (in the anime she often is rescued by Tuxedo Mask) as time goes on her character grows more confident and mature. However, she still has her crybaby moments late into the metaseries.
Usagi lives in Azabu Jūban (which is a real district of Tokyo) with her mother Ikuko Tsukino, her father Kenji Tsukino, and her brother Shingo Tsukino. Usagi's family is named after the family members of the metaseries' creator, Naoko Takeuchi's real family. Out of the Sailor Senshi, Usagi and Minako Aino are the only characters with a conventional nuclear family. Usagi is also the only one known to have a sibling.
She is a poor student, and often comes off as dumb (especially in the anime), though this is generally played off as being due to naïveté and laziness rather than actual stupidity. This is because she spends her time eating, playing video games and reading comics (including RunRun, which published the Sailor V manga in real life) rather than studying. She is often portrayed as a character that is better at art than science, as with her inability to answer that apples fall from trees because of gravity.
Usagi's boyfriend is Mamoru Chiba. Mamoru and Usagi's relationship is a large part of Usagi's life, as well as the series. The love they share helps Usagi make it through many challenges. Mamoru becomes Usagi's boyfriend after many trials, and they date for a long time during the series. Mamoru eventually proposes to Usagi, and they ultimately get married.
One of the biggest secrets about Sailor Moon is revealed in a number of connecting episodes in the end of the first series, when she realizes that she is Princess Serenity (the "crown princess" of the Silver Millennium) reborn. In the second series, Usagi learns that she will give birth to a daughter (Chibiusa) by her boyfriend and future husband. Usagi will also become a "sovereign of the Earth", known as Neo-Queen Serenity, by the 30th century.
Usagi is shown to love sweet foods and is easily distracted by them. She loves cake so much that it is listed as her hobby in the manga, and her favorite subject is listed as Home Economics. She is also said to dislike carrots (although she eats them in the anime), and is terrible at both English and mathematics. In addition to being a genuine friend, Usagi is extremely good at brown nosing when it's needed and, of course, crying to get what she wants. She is afraid of dentists and ghosts, and her greatest dream is to be a bride. Usagi loves rabbits as well as the colors white and pink, and is apparently a member of the Manga Drawing Club at school, though her skill level varies widely when shown in the anime. She stands 150 centimeters (4 ft 11 in) tall.
In the manga and anime, Mamoru gives Usagi the nickname "Odango," a kind of rice dumpling, based on her distinctive hair style. At first this is always accompanied with the suffix "-atama," meaning "head," but as time goes on it is left off. Usagi hates the name at first, but as they become close it develops into a sign of affection. Later in the series, other important male (or androgynous) figures in her life, Haruka and Seiya, adopt the name as well. Because there is no North American equivalent to odango, the English dub almost always uses "Meatball Head," once "Donut Head," and, somewhat incongruously, "Moon Face." In the English manga, Mamoru calls Usagi "buns", which is both an approximation of odango and short for Bunny.
The anime often portrays Usagi as more flaky and child-like. She often bickers with Chibiusa, begs Mamoru to buy her things and bickers with Rei very childishly, but is equally caring as her manga counterpart. She does evolve during the course of the series, but it lacks the adult maturity that Usagi of the manga gains until the last few episodes.
Lastly, the dubbed version made Serena more of a ditz than Usagi. The script for the dub was changed to reflect, with lines such as "Hi, you look like da bomb in those kimonos", which emulates a stereotypical valley girl dialect. By contrast, in the following episode, Neo-Queen Serenity talks without this pseudo-valley girl dialect, showing this was intentional and inherent to the voice actress.
Usagi in the live-action series is slightly different from her manga and anime counterparts. She is much more outgoing and extroverted, and seems to make friends very easily, which immediately puts her personality in conflict with her fellow Senshi, all of whom were loners to varying degrees. She rarely uses formal grammar with those of her age (though she does with adults), and refers to everyone as "[given name]-chan," which is very informal and a way of expressing closeness. She even teases Ami when Ami continues calling her "Tsukino-san," a formal way of speaking to classmates, saying that it is as if they are not friends. Every time a new Senshi appears, Usagi immediately tries to make her a friend, even though almost all of them resist. However, through Usagi's influence, the other Senshi gradually begin to realize that they are stronger together than they are alone.
|Usagi Tsukino||Act 1||Ep. 1||Act 1|
|Sailor Moon||Act 1||Ep. 1||Act 1|
|Princess Serenity||Act 9||Ep. 34||Act 25|
|Princess Sailor Moon||—||—||Act 36|
|Neo-Queen Serenity||Act 16||Ep. 68||—|
|Super Sailor Moon||Act 30||Ep. 111||—|
|Eternal Sailor Moon||Act 42||Ep. 167||—|
Sailor Moon's attack names center around the moon, love, mystery and light. She starts out as a frightened, reluctant girl, often having to be bailed out by the others, but gradually comes to accept who she is. She eventually becomes the most powerful Senshi in the galaxy, but her capacity for caring about other people is frequently shown to be more powerful still.
As she grows stronger, Sailor Moon gains additional powers, and at key points her appearance and title change to reflect this. The first change takes place during the third major story arc—Act 30 of the manga and Episode 111 of the anime—when she obtains the Holy Grail and becomes Super Sailor Moon. Her uniform becomes more ornate (see top of page), and her powers are increased; at first she is unable to take this form without the Grail, and is weakened when its effects fade. Near the end of the S series, she takes this form using pure desperation and the powers of the other Senshi after the Grail has been destroyed. Later, in Act 34 (episode 128), Pegasus' power enables her to transform without it.
Sailor Moon receives her third form at the end of the fourth major story arc (in Act 41 of Dream in the manga, and Episode 168 of Sailor Stars in the anime). The combined power of the other members of the Sailor Team transforms her into Eternal Sailor Moon, who Diana says is the closest in power to Neo-Queen Serenity. Her uniform is even more radically altered—most significantly, two pairs of angelic wings adorn her back. They replace her standard back bow as they are attached only at the waist and are in the shape of a large bow.
In the manga, Eternal Sailor Moon uses the Silver Moon Crystal, which is an evolved form of the Silver Crystal, to do her attacks. In the Sailor Stars anime it's less clear whether the crystal she is using is still called the Silver Crystal. The names of the attacks are congruent with the manga, which uses the name of the new crystal, but the crystal is not clearly given a new name.
Princess Serenity often explored Earth to see real greenery, even though it had been forbidden. On one of her visits, she met the crown prince of the Earth, Endymion, and they fell in love.
During the attack which caused the Moon Kingdom's downfall, Prince Endymion died protecting Serenity. In the manga, she committed suicide out of grief, while in the anime they were both killed by Queen Metaria. Serenity's mother, the Queen, was able to seal away the evil which had inspired the attack, but everyone involved was killed. Before her own death, the Queen used the Silver Crystal to give her daughter and others another chance at life, hoping in particular that, this time, Serenity and Endymion could find happiness together.
Eventually, Serenity was reincarnated as Usagi Tsukino in the 20th century. Usagi occasionally takes the form of Princess Serenity during the metaseries, often at climactic moments when more strength is needed than Sailor Moon can access. Usagi discovers her identity as a princess in Act 9 of the manga, Episode 34 of the anime, and Act 25 of the live-action series.
In the manga, while Usagi herself has been drawn with white, yellow, and even pink hair, Serenity almost always has white hair. In the anime, both characters are always blonde. In the live-action series, she has black hair, just like Usagi, and it is worn straight rather than in pigtails. This emphasizes the ambiguity of her identity before it is revealed that she is Usagi.
At climactic moments, Usagi, as Serenity sometimes gains a pair of functioning angelic wings. She does this during the final battles of SuperS, to save Chibiusa when the two of them encounter Pegasus, and Sailor Stars, during the fight with the fully-possessed Galaxia when she grabs the Sword of Sealing. It is unclear if this power comes from her past life, is Usagi's own power, or came from Pegasus and the Sword of Sealing.
In the first two series, dubbed by DiC, Princess Serenity is known as Princess Serena (although the original name is used at least once, to emphasize the similarity between Princess and Neo-Queen Serenity). In the last two series, dubbed by Cloverway, the name Serenity is used.
Unique to the live-action series, Princess Sailor Moon is a powerful combination of Sailor Moon and Princess Serenity, introduced when Usagi is "possessed" by the spirit of her former self. She originally appears after Queen Beryl takes the Shitennou hostage in exchange for Mamoru. Silently furious, Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Sailor Moon and halts Queen Beryl using her sword.
It is obvious that Princess Sailor Moon is not the same as Usagi when she shows no remorse for the fate of the Shitennou (at least Nephrite's fate), and when she refers to Mamoru as "Endymion" rather than using his civilian name. She is also constantly angry, and tends to leave flaming carnage in her wake. In one Act, Usagi's friend Naru accidentally gets too close and winds up in the hospital for a while. Though smiling in most promotional material for the series, Princess Sailor Moon does not smile in the series itself until the very end.
Princess Sailor Moon states to Usagi during inner dialogue that she has no qualms about destroying the Earth if Endymion is ever taken from her, and later on even summons her own special minions to fight her friends, all bearing moon-shaped signs similar to hers. Usagi struggles to suppress her power in fear that she would eventually destroy the world, something that comes to light in an Ideon-like fashion for the series finale. Her internal conflict is the major conflict for the rest of the series.
Princess Sailor Moon has a sword, which also doubles as a harp with invisible strings. She plays this in sorrow while thinking of her lost prince, and is capable of using it to heal people and the land. Other that this, the exact effect of playing the harp is unclear, but much of the time it causes the power of her Silver Crystal to feed the power of Queen Metaria, accelerating the devastation of the planet. Using the sword in its capacity as a weapon, Princess Sailor Moon can deflect enemy attacks and can unleash devastating projectile attacks. She also has the ability to levitate, and to teleport.
Like other characters unique to the live-action series, Princess Sailor Moon's outfit was designed by Naoko Takeuchi herself. Her sailor outfit was considerably more elaborate than Sailor Moon's, and included pearls on her gloves and lace on her skirt.
Neo-Queen Serenity is probably Usagi's most powerful form, based on comments by Diana, who states that Eternal Sailor Moon is second in power only to the Queen. However, in the manga, Neo-Queen Serenity addresses the present-day Guardian Senshi, stating that after she became queen, she lost much of her power as a Senshi. She does still demonstrate considerable power, reviving the citizens of 30th Century Tokyo with the Spiral Heart Moon Rod and bestowing the Senshi with "Planet Powers" and her own past self with new "Cosmic Powers". She is described by Sailors Uranus and Neptune as the Messiah of Peace.
She wears an altered version of the dress she wore as a princess, with the shoulder pieces omitted and a large, wing-shaped bow replacing the smaller one of the princess outfit. In the manga, Neo-Queen Serenity's dress is similar to her past form's outfit. She also wears a crown and new earrings. The crescent moon is always visible on her forehead, just as it was with her princess form. Her face and facial expressions are drawn to look more mature than the 20th century Usagi, but her iconic hairstyle is retained.
In the original anime and manga series, this form is the one that Chibiusa considers as truly being her mother, while Usagi of the past is regarded as more of a big-sister figure, and many characters often mistake them for sisters. In the English-dubbed anime, however, "Rini" frequently refers to "Serena" in her civilian or Senshi forms as "Mama."
Usagi is not shown using any special powers in her civilian form. She must first transform into a Sailor Senshi by wearing a special device (usually a compact) and shouting a special command, which activates the device. Her original transformation command is "Moon Prism Power, Make-up! She gains a new basic transformation sequence for each of the five major story arcs. In her basic form, the command changes as she becomes more powerful and obtains new transformation devices, evoking "Moon Crystal Power" and later "Moon Cosmic Power". A transformation into Super Sailor Moon initially requires her to already be in Senshi form and to use an additional item (called the Holy Chalice/Rainbow Moon Cálice) as well as the command "Crisis, make-up!", but in the anime this saps her strength. For the fourth story arc she gains the ability to transform directly into Super Sailor Moon via Moon Crisis, and in the fifth arc becomes Eternal Sailor Moon with Silver Moon Crystal Power in the manga, or Moon Eternal in the anime (and once in the manga). Most of Sailor Moon's anime transformations involve the use of shiny red or pink ribbons which come out of her brooch and form her uniform. Feathers and wings also figure prominently in some sequences, particularly the transformation into Eternal Sailor Moon. When her detransformation is shown, ribbons reappear and unravel from around her body and go back into the brooch. Usually the clothes she was wearing before she transformed reappear, but if her detransformation is forced, she may be left naked with the ribbons hanging loose around her body. She also has the Disguise Pen, which allows her to take on a human disguise by saying "Moon Power! This is used very frequently in the first story arc, but is only mentioned once during the third arc.
As the protagonist and leader, Sailor Moon has the most special powers of any character in the series. Her physical attacks, usually one-offs and not always successful, include Sailor Moon Kick and Sailor Body Attack, as well as the occasional use of her hair pins as projectile weapons. In her very first battle, she cries in terror and the red hair pieces on her odango amplify the sound waves, doing damage to the enemy. Her odango ornaments can also be used to hear faraway sounds, although this is rarely ever used.
General magic attacks are her most common type of power. In each adaptation of the series she can remove her tiara and turn it into a throwing weapon, which is her first major attack and which she continues to use on occasion far into the anime series. In the anime she demonstrates the ability to control the path of her Tiara, and once, to enlarge it and then shrink it around the enemy, ensnareing them. In the manga, a powered-up tiara enables her to attack with Moon Twilight Flash, while in the live-action series this move requires an item called the Moon Stick and is her primary attack, though she also sometimes uses unnamed beam attacks. In the manga and anime she only uses the Moon Stick to perform Moon Healing Escalation and return possessed humans to their normal selves; Luna says in the anime that this item belongs to the leader of the Sailor Senshi. In the anime, she once uses her tiara to purify a group of possessed people, and in the live-action series she can heal others without any incantation.
Healing or purifying powers are often indistinguishable from attacks, as the monsters of the day in the series are usually created by corruption of an object or person. Sailor Moon has one or two primary attacks per story arc, most of which require a unique rod or wand, and in the original anime, each of them causes the target monster to shout a phrase and revert back to what it was made from (or to dust). These primary attacks are: the first series' Moon Healing Escalation, the second series' Moon Princess Halation, the third series' Moon Spiral Heart Attack and Rainbow Moon Heart Ache, the fourth series' Moon Gorgeous Meditation, and the fifth series' Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss and Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss.
A handful of powers come up only once and in critical situations; often the common repeating powers in the anime are only one-offs in the manga. In the anime, Sailor Moon uses her transformation command when battling Queen Metaria and when turning the Ayakashi Sisters into normal women. She says Moon Cosmic Power when struggling to destroy Pharaoh 90, and at the end of the series uses Silver Moon Crystal Eternal Power to fight Chaos.
Sailor Moon can be temporarily powered-up by the other Sailor Senshi lending her their powers, as shown in the climax of the Sailor Moon R movie and multiple times throughout the series. She also often attacks in tandem with her future daughter, Sailor Chibi Moon, and, at critical moments, receives power from individuals such as Luna, Queen Serenity, her future self, Mamoru, ChibiChibi, and others.
By far, Sailor Moon's most important item is the Silver Crystal, which is the "holy stone" of the Silver Millennium. It figures significantly in the first, second, and fifth story arcs, as it is the proof of her identity as the Princess and the source of her power. It eventually evolves into the Silver Moon Crystal.
Usagi's signature hairstyle is derived from a "good luck charm" of the artist's; in college, Takeuchi would put her own hair up in odango before difficult classes or exams. In the initial sketches, Sailor Moon had pink hair. By the intermediate stages of development, Takeuchi planned to have the character's hair be blonde in civilian form and change to silver when she transformed, but she was told by her editor that silver hair would be too plain for cover art. Nevertheless, stylistic use of differently-colored hair does sometimes appear in later artwork, and the concept of the heroines' hair changing color when transformed is used in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
Of all the Sailor Senshi, Usagi's personality is closest to Takeuchi's own personality at the time Sailor Moon was created.
Certain background details of Usagi's character were chosen symbolically—for instance, her Western astrological sign is given as Cancer, which in astrology corresponds to the moon. In reference to a popular Japanese belief, her blood type is given as O, supposedly indicating friendliness, optimism, and carelessness.
The kanji of Usagi's surname translate as and . Her given name is in hiragana and so its meaning is not inherent, but the word itself means "rabbit" and this is used as a pun frequently throughout the series, even in her hairstyle and possessions. Her entire name is structured as a pun, as the syllable "no" indicates a possessive, so that her name can also be understood as "Rabbit of the Moon." This derives from a Japanese folktale about the rabbit that is said to be visible in the Moon's face, much like the Western Man in the Moon. The English-language manga gives her the nickname Bunny to partially preserve this pun; many other localizations use the name Bunny as well. "Usagi" is not a common given name in Japan.
Similarly for the dubbed anime, "Serena" is probably at least in part a play on the word Selene, a moon goddess in Greek mythology who fell in love with a shepherd named Endymion. It also derives from the name of the series' moon princess, which is alternately either "Selenity" (from Selene) or "Serenity" (from the Sea of Serenity on the moon), both of which would be rendered in Japanese as /seɺeneti/. In an early DiC promotional tape that advertised Sailor Moon to television stations, Usagi was called Victoria. Another preliminary name that appeared on Kodansha's English website in an advertisement for the series was Celeste.
In the English dubbed version, Serena is played by Tracey Moore (episodes 1–11, 15 and 21), Terri Hawkes (episodes 12-14, 16–20, 22–82, and movies) and Linda Ballantyne (episodes 90–166). Jennifer Cihi provides the English vocals for Serena's songs in the series.
In the stage musicals, Usagi has been played by four actresses: Anza Ōyama, Fumina Hara, Miyuki Kanbe, and Marina Kuroki. The numerous musicals are frequently grouped into "stages" according to which of these actresses was currently playing Sailor Moon.