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Sailor Moon Names Controversy

We posted this on our tumblr a few days ago but wanted to share here too. We often get questions about why we romanize Sailor Moon names the way we do, especially if they are different than what the fandom is used too. Well this post should answer your questions!

Original Post:


So, every once in a while, we get called out for “misspelling” character names in Japanese, or else questioned why things are spelled differently.

I feel much of this is due to established common spellings among fans that have just cemented in people’s minds. But, please note that Sailor Moon was not written in English or with English-speakers in mind. There is no real “true” translation, there are various factors that will lead to a particular way of writing it in English. As part of Sea of Serenity’s policy, every translation is completely fresh with no regard to any previous translation of the work. As a results, sometimes characters names may sometimes be different. There is not necessarily one “right” answer.

Below I will hopefully outline our process and explain some of the more common complained about names.

The below are not necessarily in order, but they are the various things we incorporate into the final choice.

1) Consistency!

The most important thing to us, is that names are consistent. So we don’t have Jadeite, Neflite, Joyzite and Malachite (all of which are valid in some way).

2) We avoid straight romanisation of Japanese names excluding names, places and cultural elements such as foods.

This is so we don’t end up with names like Esumeroodo which are clunky to read in English. However, with things like Usagi Tsukino, Azabu-Juuban or mochi, we retain these to preserve the Japanese nature of these instead of something like Rabbit Moonfields or “Tenth-Linen-District”. However, if there is straight translation description such as “Kaguya Island” or “University Potatoes”. We will translate these to give a better explanation.

3) We take into account the source language of the word.

Many Sailor Moon characters are loanwords or derived from other languages. We try to replicate this where possible. Hence, Esmeraude, derived from an Old French word, over Esumeroodo or even Emerald.

4) We take into account what the Japanese word is trying to convey.

For example, the name Esumeroodo is supposed to invoke an image of the gemstone emerald, with a bit of French flair, in English, Esmeraude does this same job. Note that in Japanese, the sounds equate directly to “Esmeraude” but the name itself is still “Esumeroodo”.

5) We take into account whether a particular translation will cause confusion.

The translation “Emerald” may cause unintentional with the character Bilhah Emerald for example. We will avoid double ups unless they are intentional in the Japanese.

6) We take into account whether the spelling makes a name difficult to pronounce in English.

If there alternatives spellings in the source language, we will pick the one that we feel best reflects the intended Japanese pronunciation. More on this below.

6) We take into account surrounding Japanese media written in English.

We do take this into account, but do not give it strong precedent unless the source has gone out of their way to promote a particular spelling, that is, provided a specific translation that is to be seen by English-speakers. An example of this is “Guardian” or “Senshi” post-2003 media. Another is “Eudial” is written as “Youzeiaru” on her locker in the anime, yet, I have heard very little claim the name should be “Youzeiaru”.

Below are some of the more common names, that we will discuss specifically


From ミメット鉱 “Mimetto-ko”, from the English, Mimetite. The -ko means “mineral”, just like the “-ite” does in English. Taking this away, leaves us with Mimet, which approximates the Japanese sounds perfectly. The only rule in controversy is “6″, due to Naoko Takeuchi’s spelling of it as “Mimete” on a panel. As this was written for a Japanese audience off-hand and appears as “flavour-text” only, we do not need to take this into account. If we did every time, we would have to include spellings like “Deth Fantom”. Counter-arguments include that the English itself “Mimete” is based on the Greek “Μιμητής” (mimetes), however, the English “Mimet” has undergone significant change in pronunciation, and it is clear the Japanese reflects the English pronounciation, not the Greek (compare with character, Sailor Aluminum Seiren which reflects the Greek, not the English). 


From テルル鉱, “Teruru-ko, from the English Tellurite. The -ko means “mineral, just like “-ite” does in English. Taking this away leaves us with “Tellur”. This accounts for the double “r” sound in the Japanese which the spelling “Tellu” by Naoko Takeuchi does not reflect, it makes the word look like it should be pronounced te-loo in English when it is more something like Tel-ure which gets in those two r sounds. (In Japanese, l and r English sounds are both positioned after the Japanese “r” sound). Counter-arguments include that Tellur is from the Japanese word for “Tellurium” (テルル – Teruru) though seemingly so due to it being identical, all the other Witches 5 are minerals, not elements. Logically Tellur is too. 


From ビリユイ石 “Biriyui-seki”, (the seki means stone) now this is an interesting one. The English equivalent for this is Wiluite. You can see it is very similar, but not quite matching with Vilyui or Viluy. In fact, this compound has an alternative Japanese writing “ウィルアイト” (Wiruaito) which is definitely approximating “Wiluite”. The question is now, where did Biriyui-seki come from. Wiluite is named after the River Wilui in Russia. Other spellings include “Vilyui” and “Vilyuy”. It seems that the Japanese word, has gone back to the original source language, Russian and transliterated unlike Mimet and Tellur. Vilyui, we preferred over Vilyuy because there was one less letter to change and the pronounciation of Vil-yu-i is clearer, this was a stylistic decision. Counterarguments include “Viluy” from Naoko’s side-panel again. I am not familiar enough with Russian to count this as an alternative spelling, it may very well be. None the less, Vilyui is still available and makes pronunciation is clear. Viluy does not get across the distinct “y” sound in the middle of Vil-YOU-ee, looking more like Vil-OO-ee.


From カオリナイト “Kaorinaito”, straight from the English mineral “Kaolinite” with no in-between stages. This one, I feel is straight-forward. Counterarguments include “Kaorinite”, this seems to be either a mistranslation that doesn’t reflect the mineral-origins, or may be to play off on Kaolinite’s human name “Kaori”. For consistency’s sake, we have not included this, as we would have to do names like Euko Alimura and Yui Vidou for the Witches 5 who have similar human names with similar sounds as their Witches 5. We feel this is starting to stray too far away from the Japanese names, howeve, I will note a real Japanese person may choose to romanise their names in these ways, it would be acceptable as the sounds are still represented. We do not feel it is necessary in this translation.


A very interesting one, Kouan derives from a Japanese word, 紅安鉱 “kouanko” or in English, Kermesite. It is clear that unlike her sisters, Kouan’s name simply comes from a Japanese mineral’s name. However, Naoko swapped the script to コーアン (ko-an), with a long o- vowel. In Japanese “oo” and “ou” are identical sounds. As a personal preference, writing double “oo” sounds in Japanese however, is exceedingly rare (おお) for Kooan, so we have gone with the more usual “ou” (おう) for Kouan to account for the long vowel found in both the kanji and katakana forms of her name. The same way we do for characters like Kou Seiya (over Koo Seiya). Counterarguments include Koan, we do not feel this properly reflects the long vowel, and Cooan, we do not see the switch to a “c” in English as necessary. 


Perhaps the most contentious of all.

Esmeraude and Saphir’s names derive from old European names for Emerald and Sapphire respectively. Rubeus is derived from the Latin word “Rubeus” from which the word “Ruby” is derived.

However, to this day, I do not think anybody has found any word, European, or otherwise that accurately accounts for the sounds in “デマンド” “Demando”. It is quite clear, it has something to do with diamonds. I have settled on the conclusion that it is some kind of pun between the English word “demand” and “diamond”. The word “ デマンド “ (demando) is already a recognised word in Japanese which means “demand” and Japanese readers would recognise it as such, to further this argument, the Sailor Moon musical song “Innocent Demand” explicitly makes this connection and is always written in English as “Innocent Demand”. However, in the context of the other gemstone names, a sense of it being “diamond-y” is also present. Just in how we might not know what languages Esmeraude and Saphir derive from, but we know they’re some kind of Emerald-y, Sapphire-y thing. It is possible, his name might be a contraction of Demantoid, but this seems unlikely as he is not associated with the colour green. Counterarguments – Prince Dimande/Demande, I have never found what languages these stem from, I suspect it’s an attempt to make the name seem more diamond-y, but as shown above. This isn’t necessary for this character, as the other character names make it clear, and Japanese readers would recognise the word “demand” the same way English-readers would.

I hope that helps and makes sense and you enjoyed reading!

Written by: Akiko-Hime

Sailor Pluto: Why Garnet?


Ever wondered what the word Garnet has to do with anything and always crops up with Pluto?

This is probably a sneaky bit of punnery on Naoko Takeuchi’s part.

The Japanese word for “Garnet” is 石榴石 (Zakuroishi), “Zakuro” meaning “pomegranate” and “ishi” meaning “stone”.

Pomegranates are associated with Hades (Pluto) and the Underworld through the story of Persephone. Persephone was abducted by Hades, when Persephone’s Mother Demeter found out she became depressed, the Gods demanded Persephone be released and Hades agreed, before she returned, he gave Persephone some pomegranate seeds which she ate, binding her to the Underworld forever, and she would have to stay there for a third of the year.

So basically the word “Garnet” is associated with Pluto’s never-ending mission as Soldier of Time-Space and the Underworld.

The Deal with Private Mystery Circle

Private Mystery Circle is one of the more confusing songs in SeraMyu. If you’ve ever wondered “Wait. What. What was that?” hopefully this will explain it!

We’ll do this verse by verse.

This song MUST be seen in context of ufology and the events of the Black Lady musicals. Throughout this song it seems more and more people are being replaced with droids. Think back to some scenes in the Black Moon arc of the manga and it makes more sense. Basically this is a song that seems cute and sounds innocent but the lyrics have increasingly creepier hidden meanings.

The matter is that I peeked into your eyes…
I found stars, something I’d never seen
I met your gaze and knew with full knowledge…
Those eyes should be… What is this?

Pretty much everything in this song is to do with paranormal phenomena, especially ufology. This song is mainly about droids replacing humans… just without saying droids or humans, think of it like the body snatchers. The first verse is about noticing someone you love not as they should be, in this case something wrong with their eyes.

Maybe, by some chance… (Maybe, by some chance…)
You have multiple personalities
No way! UFO? What are you talking about?
That’s just not, not, not how they should be…
My beloved one… Woo!
Private Mystery Circle!

They now try to find a “reasonable” explanation for what’s going on, suggesting that they have a multiple personality disorder but stating that they love them and that can’t be right. A pun appears here too, with one saying “No way!” (uso) and another confusing it for “ufo”. It should be pointed out here that Private Mystery Circle is not a case of “engrish”, Mystery Circle is a wasei term, Japanese terms made from English. In this case it refers to what we usually call “crop circles”

From the beginning!
Love & Peace
You better take another look at them
Once again…
Dry & Moist, make sure of that!
Return it to zero!
Ding-dong! Ding-dong!
Starting over!

The song takes a creepier turn here on. UFO stands for “Unidentifed Flying Object” UMA for “Unidentified Mysterious Animal”. We do not really use the latter term in English but the Japanese do use it. In this verse, Love & Peace, what humans usually believe in are told to be looked at again and revise these principles. People’s values of Love & Peace are being reconsidered as people are being replaced with droids. Dry & Moist however is less clear, it may refer to the soil of Crop Circles but personally I think this might be a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which this song seems to be a cuter version of, in that the body snatchers come from pods, perhaps dry and moist refers to conditions for plants. Return it to zero refers to the human population, the Black Moon Clan literally intends to replace human beings with droids. That is “starting over”. Listen carefully at the album version and you can hear two kinds of singing. When they say “Love & Peace” it is in a cheerful happy tone but when they say “minaoshite” (take another look) for example, the tone changes into a sort of mocking tone.

Yesterday, perhaps I had thought…
Love was best, for better or for worse…
But some time ago… Within my heart…
Stars were bursting open, making a sound
The Moonlight’s… (The Moonlight’s…) deed, could it be?
Myself and my spirit… (Heart!)
I want to peek into them!
Private Mystery Circle

Now the singers take a term for the worst, they know feel different. Yesterday that had believed in love and now they are being replaced themselves. They are wondering if this is the work of Space. Mamoru says “Contacty” in the lyrics, this is probably a misspellign of “Contactee” someone who aliens have made contact with. Additionally the word spirit (kokoro) and (Heart) are usually equivalent. However, kokoro has unusually been written in the katakana writing system, often used for loanwords, however in other cases such as this it gives a touch of artificial-ness to the line, writing “kokoro” in katakana gives the idea of the person saying it is not truly alive.

From the beginning!
Love & Peace
You better take another look at them
Once again…
Dry & Moist, make sure of that!
Return it to zero!
Ding-dong! Ding-dong!
Starting over!

Back to the chorus. I hope I’ve helped explain another song that people often have had trouble with!

PGSM: Ami’s Ami Amie.

Ever wonder why Ami is knitting constantly before she becomes Dark Mercury?

Though its clear that the knitting here is a symbol of their friendship, it can read a little deeper.

The French word “ami/amie” (アミ), meaning friend, is pronounced identically to the name Ami (亜美) in Japanese, furthermore the stem verb “編み”, also read as “ami” means “to knit”. So in a sense, Ami is connecting together their friendship through the process of knitting, all of which is “ami”. Ami is really the force bringing them all together. Ami ami-ing her ami.

As their friendship weakens early in the series, when everyone becomes preoccupied with their own issues, Ami knits harder and harder trying to bring everyone together, but eventually when she slashes the mittens she makes, she is effectively, breaking their bond of friendship. Literally breaking the “ami” from them in three different senses.