Ian Andreas Miller. 14 January 2004.
For years, I have been wondering what the Maboroshi no part of Maboroshi no Ginzuish signifies. maboroshi no can mean apparitional, phantasmal, shadowy, phantom (when it is used adjectivally), visionary, illusory1. maboroshi can mean phantom, vision, illusion, dream2. I had a hard time thinking of which one of those words is most appropriate for the crystal. At one point, I decided to translate Maboroshi no Ginzuish as Silver Crystal of Fantasy because the word fantasy made me think that the Silver Crystal has powers that are so amazing that some people may consider them unreal.
(Although Japanese word for crystal is suish3, Sailor Moon’s crystal has the name Maboroshi no Ginzuish. The zuish in Ginzuish is a euphonic change from suish.)
Recently, I learned about the mineralogical term phantom crystal4. A phantom crystal “occurs where the growing environment of the gemstone changes and there is a color change or some other shift in the crystal that makes the crystal faces of the younger crystal visible INSIDE the present crystal”5. Those inner crystals can be called phantoms. The Japanese often refer to phantom crystals as fantomu suish6. They often explanation that fantomu means maboroshi. ( fantomu approximates the English word phantom7.) When maboroshi is used in a mineralogical sense and it pertains to crystals, it refers to those phantoms.
maboroshi no can mean phantom (when phantom is used adjectivally), and fantomu can approximate phantom (when phantom is used adjectivally), so one could use either maboroshi no or fantomu to represent the English word phantom (when phantom is used adjectivally) in the Japanese script8. Furthermore, fantomu is used as a translation of maboroshi no in at least one Japanese source9. In that case, maboroshi no suish is a sensible Japanese translation of the mineralogical term phantom crystal. (Someone can translate maboroshi no suish as crystal of the phantom when we are working with the phantom idea, but we already know what the usual English mineralogical term is.)
We know that Ms. Takeuchi used mineralogical terms for her story, so it is valid to read the maboroshi and suish in terms of mineralogy. If a suish — a crystal — that pertains to a maboroshi — a phantom — is a phantom crystal, then a
Ginzuish — a Silver Crystal — that pertains to a maboroshi — a phantom — would be a Phantom Silver Crystal. Does that mean that the Silver Crystal is literally a phantom crystal? No, it does not. There are plenty of names that do not literally describe their respective people and things. Jadeite of the Dark Kingdom is not a lump of Jadeite mineral. In the various continuities, we have a scythe that is referred to as the Silence Glaive, but scythes and glaives are not the same thing (even if they seem to be historically related). Artemis, the male cat, is not a Greek goddess of the hunt. We do not need to think that the Silver Crystal is an actual phantom crystal.
I do not expect everyone to accept the idea that Maboroshi no Ginzuish can mean Phantom Silver Crystal to show a link between the name of the crystal and the mineralogical term phantom crystal. (The link involves the two words phantom and crystal.) However, that idea does provide an explanation for the Maboroshi no in Maboroshi no Ginzuish.