The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: March 11th, 2000

The Etymology of the Names from the Three Sailormoon Movies

By: Ian Andreas Miller

I've always enjoyed the three Sailormoon movies that were released in Japan. Most of the names of the characters from these movies are rather clever and they're interesting to study. I thought that if I could understand what some of these names mean, I could better understand the characters and I could better understand the movies. After a bit of detective work, I now have a list of what I believe are the proper translations of the names of the characters from the Sailormoon R, Sailormoon S, and Sailormoon SuperS movies.

The list below shows the names of the characters that appear in the movies. For each entry, there is a comment about the origin of the name. The letters in the brackets [] represent how the names would be spelt in Romaji. Romaji is a system of expressing the Japanese writing system with English letters. The actual Japanese script of the names and titles can also be found in each entry.

I must now make a disclaimer. Though I have worked hard to make this list as accurate as it can be, but I am sure there are still some mistakes. I don't claim to be the ultimate and final authority of the information I provide in the list, but I feel that I have correctly ascertained the origins of these names.

Pretty Soldier Sailormoon R

[Bi Shoujo Senshi Seeraamuun Aaru]*

Fiore [fiore] -- The name Fiore comes from the Italian word for "flower." This word seems to be derived from the Indo-European root "bhel," which is the same root where the English words "foliage," "bloom," and "flourish" find their origins. It's no doubt related to the Latin words "flos" and "floris" which also mean "flower." The goddess named Flora in Roman mythology was the goddess of flowers. Florence, the capital city of both the Firenze province and the Tuscany region of central Italy, often calls itself "Fiorenza." My grandparents have a facsimile of an old drawing of the city of Florence and the letters for "Fiorenza" are written in bold at the top.

Xenian [kisenian] -- The word "flower" after this name is redundant because the credits in Japanese at the end of the movie don't specifically include it; the name is written as simply "kisenian" in Japanese Katakana. In botany, any effect produced on the endosperm of an angiosperm by pollen from a plant having a different kind of endosperm is called "xenia." The word "xenia" comes from the Greek word "xenia" which means "gifts of friendship," and ultimately from the word "xenos" which means "strange." A xenophobe is a person who has an unhealthy fear of outsiders, strangers, or aliens. The original Greek word "xenia" was pronounced something like "kseen-ee-ah" and not "zeen-ee-ah." The reason why the Japanese spell the name with the "ki" and the "se" instead of a "ze" is because they want to stay as true to the pronunciation of the original Greek as possible with their writing system (though doing so is difficult due to the syllabic nature of the Japanese Katakana script). Takeuchi, in the same way, wrote the Katakana characters for "eriosu" ("Elios") for Helios because there is no letter for the English "h" sound in the Greek alphabet.

Glycina [gurishina] -- Glycina is the name of the monster with the green legs that grows from the pink flower near the beginning of the movie. The word "glycine" in Japanese is "gurishin" and so the name "gurishina" must be "Glycina." The words, incidentally, are derived from the Greek "glykeros" which means "sweet." The word "glycina" is part of the name "Glycina max" which is the binomial nomenclature of a variety of soybean. Different types of food derived from soybeans enjoy much popularity in Japan; tofu is by far the most famous of the soybean products.

Dahlian [darian] -- The Dahlians are the slithering, snickering, serpentine monsters that appear from the pink flowers on Fiore's meteor. The name comes from dahlia which is a type of flower that is often grown in gardens. Dahlias produce colorful and attractive flowers from midsummer until frost and are great additions to the summer garden. Each tuber will produce a number of hollow, stout stems that vary in height depending on variety. There are very tall varieties that can reach a height of twelve feet, but these are seldom grown. Dahlias can be found in almost every color except blue, but they can be found in a variety of flower types.

Campanula [kannpanyura] -- Campanula is the name of the flying monster Sailormoon and the others confront when they fly above the surface of Fiore's meteor. The girls use their Sailor Planet Power ability to attack this monster. The name Campanula refers to any of a genus of plants of the bellflower family. The name comes from the Latin "campana" which means "bell."

Pretty Soldier Sailormoon S

[Bi Shoujo Senshi Seeraamuun Suupaa]*

Princess Snow Kaguya [purinsesu sunoo kaguya] -- Princess Kaguya is the name of the principle character in one of Japan's oldest tales called "Taketori-monogatari," otherwise known as "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter." According to the tale, a bamboo cutter finds an infant, with the elegance of a princess, inside the stem of bamboo. He takes her home and she grows into a fine maiden who is admired by many. One day she tells the bamboo that she must return to the moon, a place that's her original home. She leaves and forever after, the bamboo is sacred.

Snow Dancer [sunoo dansaa] -- I don't think I need to explain this name.

Oozora Kakeru [oozora kakeru] -- Kakeru's full name poetically means "he who soars (about) the universe" in the Japanese language. Normally, the Japanese term for "universe" or "outer space" is "uchu," but in Kakeru's case the phonetic values of the Kanji have been altered to read "Oozora." The myriad homonyms for the Japanese word "kakeru" include "to initiate," "to hang," "to run," "to be lacking," and "to wager."

Nayotake Himeko [nayotake himeko] -- Unfortunately, Himeko's name cannot be rendered into English as nicely as Kakeru's name when translated from Japanese. One fantastic and rather loose translation is something like "the child princess whose reputation is among the bamboo at night." Literally, the Kanji that are used are "reputation" (or "name"), "night," "bamboo," "princess," and "child." The mention of bamboo in her name is probably in reference to the old Princess Kaguya tale.

Pretty Soldier Sailormoon SuperS:
The Nine Sailor Soldiers Unite! The Miracle of the Black Dream Hole.

[Bi Shoujo Senshi Seeraamuun Suupaazu]*:
Seeraa 9 senshi shuu ketsu! Burakku- doriimu- hooru no kiseki.

Perule [peruru] -- In botany, a perule refers to a scale of a leaf bud or the pouchlike portion of the perianth in certain orchides. This word comes from the French word meaning "wallet" and that word in turn comes from the Latin "pera." Since Perule seems to be the youngest of the four fairies that are shown in this movie, and since the others are named after different types of trees and types of fruit, this name seems relevant to the subject matter.

Peuplier [pupuran] -- The name Peuplier comes from the French word "peulier" that refers to the poplar tree. In old French the word is either "poplier" or "pouple." The name of the character is probably more like "Pouple" but the modern version of the word should suffice. The poplar is any of the several fast-growing deciduous tress of the genus Populus having unisexual flowers born in catkins. There is a Russian folktale about a woodcutter who meets a woodland fairy and becomes a poplar tree.

Oranga [oranja] -- Orangia is the fairy who wears the orange motif and becomes a pink bird when fleeing. His name is obviously derived from the fruit called the orange. An orange refers to any of several trees of the genus Citrus, widely cultivated in warm regions and having fragrant white flowers and round fruit with a yellowish or reddish rind and a sectioned, pulpy interior.

Banane [banaanu] -- Banane is the fairy who wears the banana motif and becomes an orange bird when fleeing. His name is obviously derived from the banana. These elongated, edible fruits of the plants belonging to the genus Musa have a thick yellowish to reddish skin and white, aromatic, seedless pulp.

Bonbon Babies [bonbonbebii] -- Traditionally authoritative sources such as Hitoshi Doi's site and some of the different English fansub translations have inadvertently promoted the "Bon Bon Baddies" misconception. Unfortunately, this error is so old that some fans are likely to question the corrected version. Anybody who takes the time to study the child-like nature of these enemies will see why they are "babies." Bonbons are candies that often have a center of fondant, fruit, or nuts and are covered with chocolate of fondant. The name of the candy is a reduplication of the French word "bon," which means "good," and is from the Latin word "bonus."

Queen of Black Lightning Badiana [kokurai no joou badiyaanu] -- Badiana, otherwise known as star anise, is a type of exotic spice that is extracted from the star-shaped fruit of a small evergreen tree native to China. The Japanese plant the tree in their temples and on tombs. The reddish-brown fruit ripens into a six or eight pointed star shape. This same star-shape, which the queen wears on her forehead and on her chest, serves as the her characteristic emblem.

Marzipan Castle [majipannu kyassuru] -- The donut-shaped Marzipan Castle is the strangely ornate fortress where Badiana and her cohorts take the children. Marzipan refers to a confection made of ground almonds or almond paste, egg whites, and sugar, and it's often molded into decorative shapes. The alternate spelling, "marchpane," is closer to the original form of the word, Arabic "mawthapan," which means "seated king." The exact line of derivation from king to candy is conjectural.

Papillotte [papiyotto] -- The Papillottes are those little pieces of candy that the fairies throw to become Bonbon Babies. In reality, a papillote refers to a heavy, greased or oiled paper in which food, especially meat or fish, is wrapped, cooked and served. The word is derived from the French word "papillon" which means "butterfly."

* Though the Japanese phrase "bi shoujo senshi" literally means "beautiful girl fighter" in English, the phrase "Pretty Soldier" seems to be the "official" name.


Sullivan, C. Star Anise is an Exotic Spice. {Web page} 26 May 1999; {Accessed 18 Feb 2000}.

Orient Resources Company. Anise (Star). {Web page} Date Unknown; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}., Inc. Natural Star Anise Pin. {Web page} 1999-2000; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Simran. Stories. {Web page} Date Unknown; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Cassidy, P. Bibliomania: Websters Revised Unabridged Dictionary 1913. {Web page} 1999; {Accessed 19 Feb 2000}.

Bamboo Museum. Taketori-monogatari. {Web page} Date Unknown; {Accessed 18 Feb 2000}.

Lexico LLC. {Web page} 28 Feb 2000; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Lexico LLC. {Web page} 28 Feb 2000; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Jim Breen. Jim Breen's Japanese Page. {Web page} 24 Feb 2000; {Accessed 28 Feb 2000}.

Kodansha Staff (1995). Pretty Soldier Sailormoon, Another Story Perfect Guide. Tokyo: Kodansha of Japan.

Kodansha Staff (1995). Pretty Soldier Sailormoon S, The Movie Memorial Album. Tokyo: Kodansha of Japan.

Kodansha Staff (1996). Pretty Soldier Sailormoon SuperS, The Movie Memorial Album. Tokyo: Kodansha of Japan.

Gager, C (1926). General Botany, With Special Reference to its Economic Aspects. New York: Maple Press Company.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Ian Andreas Miller.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

  Current Lemures Top || Main || Email   
© 2002 AQ