Like many people, my first introduction to anime came through Sailor Moon. Unlike most, however, I first saw Sailor Moon a little over 5 years ago as an adult. As an astrologer, I was immediately impressed by how well the series incorporated astrology and traditional wisdom into the characters and plot of the story. Indeed, I can give a lot of credit to Sailor Moon in inspiring my Japanese studies, and I was fortunate that the newer series, Sailor Moon Crystal came out in my first few years of these studies. I also used Sailor Moon manga as I was learning to read Japanese.
With respect to astrology, there are many obvious correct associations, such as the Sun Signs of the various Senshi matching their planetary associations. For example, Usagi-chan (Sailor Moon) was born with her Sun in Cancer, and Ami-chan (Sailor Mercury) was born with her Sun in Virgo. Another obvious correct association is the thunder-based attack of Sailor Jupiter. While the association between Jupiter and thunder is correct in the Western system, it is also correct in the Eastern elemental system.
It seems that the Senshi attacks are based on the Eastern, rather than the Western, elemental associations. In the Eastern elemental system, each element is associated with a non-luminary planetary principle. Indeed, in Japanese, the non-luminary planets themselves are named for their element. Jupiter is 木星, or “wood planet.” Mercury is 水星, suisei, or “water planet,” and Sailor Mercury’s attack is water-based. Mars is 火星, kasei, or “fire planet,” and Sailor Mars’ attack is fire-based. Venus is 金星, kinsei, or “gold planet,” and Sailor Venus’ Crescent beam is gold colored. Also, heavily featured in Sailor Venus’ transformation and attack is the pentacle, the five pointed star, which is also associated with Venus.
Aside from these surface associations, there is much deeper metaphysical wisdom in Sailor Moon. In the series, it is revealed that the Sailor Senshi have been reincarnated from Moon Kingdom of the Silver Millennium. The Silver Millennium can be seen as symbolic of the Silver Age, or Treta Yuga in traditional teachings. In the Silver Millennium, Sailor Moon was Princess Serenity.
The entire first story arc in the manga and Sailor Moon Crystal has a very traditional mythic theme. This theme is present in the original anime as well; however, in the original anime, it is muddled with many other story lines and sub-plots. (As an aside, for this reason, I will be using Sailor Moon Crystal and the manga rather than the original anime series in my discussion.)
The single male main character is Tuxedo Kamen, or Tuxedo Mask. Over the course of the first story arc, we learn that he was Prince Edymion of Earth during the time of the Silver Millenium. In true mythic or fairy tale form, Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion have a forbidden romance which ends tragically. The rest of the story arc is the cleansing and resolution of the tragedy from the past. This is a very traditional story.
The Second Story Arc: Plutonian Overtones
Given the soundness of the first story arc, I was a little worried when I came to the second story arc, particularly as I was told that I would encounter the first of the Outer Planet Senshi, Sailor Pluto, in this arc. As an astrologer who uses primarily Classical methods, I am dubious of New Age associations for the Outer Planets. I make limited of the Outer Planets in my practice, and I tend to view them as representatives of the poisons of the Modern Age. I see Pluto as a representative of deformation, or of inversion of Light and Dark.
Before we meet Sailor Pluto in the second story arc, there is a clear theme of deformation, or inversion. In the very beginning of this story arc, we meet Chibi Usa, a child who has clearly become hardened and cynical, and who has apparently lost her innocence. In the first three Acts of the story, the villains abduct the Sailor Senshi one by one, first Mars, next Mercury, and then Jupiter. They abduct these Senshi by using an inversion of each of their own elemental attacks.
After Mars, Mercury, and Venus have been abducted, we are left with Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, Chibi Usa, and Tuxedo Kamen. Chiba Usa steals Usagi-chan’s brooch with the all important 幻の銀水晶, Maboroshi no Ginsuishou, the literal translation of which is something like Illusory or Dream Silver Crystal. As a result of this, Sailor Moon is unable to transform when the villains attack and attempt to abduct Sailor Venus. Fortunately, Tuxedo Kamen finds his power, which is the power of Earth.
He is able to hold off the first attack of the villains, and this is long enough for Chibi Usa to repent of stealing the Maboroshi no Ginsuishou. She returns the Crystal to Usagi-chan, who transforms and saves Sailor Venus from the secondary attack that was meant to abduct her. After this, we learn that Chibi Usa is from the future, the 30th Century to be precise. She then asks Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus, and Tuxedo Kamen to help the future Earth, and they agree.
Chibi Usa has her own Maboroshi no Ginsuishou from the future and a special key. With these two items, she is able to travel back to the future with the remaining Sailor Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen.