As part of our Name Origins series of articles, this page intends to try and explain the names of the main characters of Sailor Moon. Like many other fiction authors, Naoko Takeuchi seems to strive to put some meaning or pun into the names of her characters, though some names are less clear than others.
The following has not been confirmed by Naoko Takeuchi or anyone officially connected to the Sailor Moon series and are speculation based on evidence and knowledge of the Japanese language. Take the following with a grain of salt as it may or may not have been the intention of the original creator.
The Amazoness / Samael / Sailor Quartet
CereCere (セレセレ SereSere)
PallaPalla (パラパラ ParaPara)
JunJun (ジュンジュン JunJun) and
The Amazoness Quartet, the Sailor Quartet, and the Samael Quartet all have their names stemming from the same root and that is the first four discovered asteroids (at the time, some have now been reclassified). CereCere is from Ceres (セレス Seresu), PallaPalla from Pallas (パラス Parasu), JunJun from Juno (ジュノー Junoo) and VesVes from Vesta (ベスタ Besuta), their Sailor identity forms. The reasoning for the way they are taken is likely because their names with their double sounds sound rather childish and cute which is highly relevant to their personality, being four young girls unwilling to become adults.
Sheba Shingetsu Astarte
(柴・新月・アスタルテ Shiba Shingestu Asutarute)
For those of you that don’t know or have yet to watch either of the 2000 Summer “Decisive Battle/The Forest of Transylvania” or 2001 winter “Decisive Battle/The Forest of Transylvania (Revised Edition) shows, Sheba is an original character in these musicals. If you do not want her character spoiled for you please do not read any further as this article about her name is full of spoilers for her.
As a foreigner, Sheba’s name is written in the Western format. Her name is written with inter-points to mark it as three separate words. Her given name “Sheba” (柴 しば) is actually Japanese, and trans-literally is actually “shiba”, （しば）the kanji meaning “firewood”. I will note now, that just because a name is written in kanji, does not mean the name must be written trans-literally in English, the name could just as easily be Shiba, Sheba, Siba, Siva, Sheva or Shiva. These are all pronounced identically in Japanese. However, I am settling on Sheba with reasons to come.
The explanation of “firewood” may come through her connection to Vulcan. In the musicals, it is revealed that this poor character was manipulated by Death Vulcan (since Vulcan was the Roman God of Fire), Sheba may be seen as the “kindling” that led to Death Vulcan to bring so many other characters and events under his control. Sheba is also possibly a reference to the Queen of Sheba（シバの女王). Though the Queen of Sheba exists in many different variations, here she is likely to stem from Hebrew or Wiccan accounts, which have the most influence on the “Decisive Battle/The Forest of Transylvania” musicals. Sheba is said to be descended from Phoenicians, but even though the Queen of Sheba’s kingdom’s location is not clearly known, the general area is similar. Likely the reason Sheba received her name is due to the Queen of Sheba’s strong identification with Lilith, where in the musical Astarte and Lilith of Darkness form a strong partnership as the Mothers.
Shingetsu (新月) is made of two Japanese kanji and literally means “new moon”. It can also refer to a crescent moon, likely as Astarte was sometimes a Goddess of the Moon, her symbol was a crescent moon too, but in the musical, likely as Astarte with Lilith wanted to replace the current world order which was being preserved by Sailor Moon. Hence, Astarte would literally be the “new Moon”. Astarte simply comes from the Goddess Astarte and her Soldier form, Sailor Astarte. There is a minor planet also called Astarte.
I will now try to debunk the other alternatives to Sheba which have been prevalent throughout the Sailor Moon fandom. The most common translation I’ve seen is “Shiva”, saying it’s a reference to a Hindu Destruction God. The greatest problem with this is that Hinduism pops up nowhere else in the entire Dracul Series, while Hebrew and Wicca references are numerous. Additionally, the Japanese concept of Shiva is very different. He has evolved into Daikokuten, a dwarf looking God of Fortune, something completely irrelevant to Sheba’s character. Shiva is also a Hebrew word that refers to a mourning period of seven days, though Judaism references appear in the series, this particular one seems to be a coincidence. Even though the character has been in a period of mourning, it is not related to the number 7 which is at the root of this word. Siva is the name that appears in English in the official pamphlet of the show, however, since the pamphlet also uses “Duke” in place of “Baron” where the English word “Baron” is used to describe Gilles de Rais in the show, and the word “werewolf” is accidentally written as “warwolf”, it seems the creator of the characters, is not the person writing the pamphlets and we should not use the information too strongly. Siva, however, is another name for the Slavic goddess of love and fertility, Živa. However Slavic references do not appear so like Shiva, it does not quite fit.
A full literal name for the character could be “Firewood New Moon Astarte”.
Written by: Akiko Hime
Edited by: Hikari-Sama