Ian Andreas Miller.  17 July 2001.

(The original Saturn and Pluto: Debunking the "Mix Up" Myth article can still be viewed. I wrote a similar article a few months later.)

An Introduction

     Many fans of the anime and manga series Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn know that its creator, Naoko Takeuchi, took ideas from classical Greco-Roman mythology and worked them in her story. It's been claimed, however, that the ideas associated with Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn don't at all match the ideas associated with their respective mythological counterparts. This article will attack the faulty reasoning behind the argument against Ms. Takeuchi's choices, and it will show why her choices don't necessarily indicate a switch or a mistake.

The Usual "Switch" Argument

     The argument against Ms. Takeuchi's choices is or implies to be:

     In classical mythology, Pluto was the God of Death and Saturn was the God of Time. Sailor Pluto is the Senshi of Time and Sailor Saturn is the Senshi of Death. It should have been the other way around. Sailor Pluto should have been the Senshi of Death and Sailor Saturn should have been the Senshi of Time. Therefore, Ms. Takeuchi either switched Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto for some reason or she got her mythology mixed up.

The Problems with the Argument

     One of the biggest problems with this argument is that it misrepresents the roles of the two mythological deities that it mentions and then it begs the question. It assumes that Saturn could never have been anything other than the god of time and that Pluto could never have been anything other than the god of death. Then, it assumes that, when she was assigning the roles to her other characters, Ms. Takeuchi also intended to follow similar rigid mythological "rules." It uses these assumptions to prove that she didn't follow those supposed "rules" when she created Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto. Before the argument can suggest that she didn't follow those "rules," it first needs to show that she intended to follow them in the first place.

     The argument also suppresses evidence. Not all of the planetary sailor soldiers are as closely related to their respective mythological counterparts as this argument is trying to make Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn seem after it goes about "correcting" Ms. Takeuchi's supposed errors. For instance, the title hon no senshi, which means, "soldier of flame," has been applied to Sailor Mars.1 Sailor Mars also wields the powers of fire. However, Roman Vulcan was the chief Italian fire deity.2 The Roman Mars, on the other hand, was thought to be more of a god of war, of husbandry, and of shepherds and seers.3 Similarly, Sailor Mercury has been called the mizu no senshi, which means, "soldier of water," in the original Japanese anime and manga of Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn.4 The Roman Mercurius (Mercury), however, was more of a deity of traders and thieves.5 The Roman Neptunus, or Neptune, on the other hand, was originally a freshwater deity who was identified with the Greek sea-god Poseidon.6 Sailor Mars, when she is called the soldier of flame, and Sailor Mercury, when she is called the soldier of water, don't neatly correspond to their respective mythological counterparts. Even if Saturn was only the god of time, and Pluto was only the god of death, why should Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto neatly correspond to their respective mythological counterparts when other characters don't?

     There's more evidence that's suppressed. The Romans didn't think of Saturn as only a god of time. In fact, Saturn's association with time was more widely held by the Stoics, who connected Cronus (; the Titan who swallowed his children) with the Greek word , chronos, which means time. (Scholars say these terms are etymologically unrelated.)7 Saturn was a deity of blight8 and sowing9. The Phoenicians thought of him not as a god of time, but as a solar deity.10 In short, the deity Saturn represented other ideas besides time.

     Two familiar personifications were born from the iconography of Saturn and Cronus: Father Time (Cronus = chronos, and then Cronus = Saturn) and the Grim Reaper (from the scythes that Cronus and Saturn held).11

     On the other hand, the Greeks connected death with time (destiny) and called the resultant concept , moira, which means "fate" or "allotment" or "man's appointed doom."12 Hesiod had moira represented by three goddesses in the Theogony.13 Lachesis sings of the things that were, Clotho those that are, and Atropus the things that are to be.14 So, as far as classical mythology is concerned, time and death were closely related.

     The argument suppresses even more evidence by ignoring Ms. Takeuchi's own explanations for Sailor Saturn and Sailor Pluto. Her manga does give us hints about what she had in mind when she created those characters.

Ms. Takeuchi's Manga and Sailor Saturn

"We watched as she slowly brought down her silence glaive, as the Silver Millennium went into oblivion." -- Sailor Neptune, act 30.

"The silence glaive. The scythe of the goddess of death." -- Sailor Neptune, act 33.

(These passages are derived from Alex Glover's translations.)

     The name Silence Glaive is almost always associated with the Japanese characters in the manga. These characters represent the phrase chinmoku no kama, which means, "scythe of silence." The object has even been specifically called a scythe in both the anime and in the manga. The second manga passage above shows that Sailor Neptune calls it a scythe in act thirty-three. In episode 119 of the anime, Haruka also calls the object the chinmoku no kama. For the most part, in classical mythology, Cronus and Saturn (not Hades and Pluto) were said to have held scythes. These passages from the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn manga very strongly suggest that Ms. Takeuchi considered the Grim Reaper aspect of the deity Saturn rather than the Father Time aspect when she created her Sailor Saturn character.

Ms. Takeuchi's Manga and Sailor Pluto

"Time Guardian! Tear apart the sky, and open the space-time door to me! I call the true name of the almighty god of time, the time guardian's father! Chronos! Reveal to me the path of light!" -- Chibi Usa, act 18.

"I am the watcher of the space-time door, the guardian of the underworld. I am Sailor Pluto! And I will eliminate those who violate the law." -- Sailor Pluto, act 18.

"Sailor Pluto's mission and situation are entirely different from that of Princess Selenity's four guardian soldiers. She carries the blood of the god in charge of time, C[h]ronos. She lives between time, the solitary guardian of the door of the underworld. Time is the last inviolable territory. Since ages ago, the Door of Space-Time has been off-limits, and Sailor Pluto was the one who enforced that." -- King Endymion, act 19.

"Great guardian deity of time and space! My father C[h]ronos! Give me power! Close the door of the broken law! Dark Dome Close!" -- Sailor Pluto, act 33.

(These passages are derived from Alex Glover's translations. "Chronos" seems to be Glover's most commonly used spelling of the name, but there are times when he omits the "h.")

     After we read these passages, we find that Sailor Pluto is the daughter of Chronos, the deity in charge of time. Also, Sailor Pluto is the guardian of the underworld, which is where the Door of Space-Time is located. In classical mythology, the Greeks often called the lord of the underworld, Hades, "Pluto," (The Romans also used "Pluto" to refer to their version of Hades.)15 Hades, or Pluto, was the first male son of Cronus,16 the Titan who was later associated with chronos, which in Greek means time. So, Hades was the first-born son of Cronus, and Sailor Pluto is the daughter of Chronos, the god of time. Sailor Pluto evidently inherited some of her father's powers. That would explain her association with time. These passages from the manga strongly suggest that Ms. Takeuchi was considering the Father Time aspect of Cronus, rather than the Grim Reaper aspect, when she created her Sailor Pluto character.

Sailor Pluto and the Garnet Rod

     Sailor Saturn wields the Silence Glaive, the scythe of silence. Her weapon is a mythological reference, but does Sailor Pluto's Garnet Rod also signify something from classical mythology? There's at least one possible explanation for Ms. Takeuchi's choice in gems. The garnet has two names in Japanese. Two names are gnetto (the Japanese spelling of the English garnet)17 and zakuroishi, which means literally "pomegranate-stone."18 The word "garnet" is etymologically related to "pomegranate," which is the name of a kind of fruit.19 The oldest Homeric Hymn tells the story of how Hades kidnapped Persephone and how she from then on was forced to stay part of the year in the underworld for eating a pomegranate seed there.20 So, it's very likely that Sailor Pluto holds the Garnet Rod because the garnet is the "pomegranate-stone" and the pomegranate is the fruit that has mythological connections to the underworld.

Their Epithets, Titles, and Roles

     Some have claimed that Sailor Pluto is the senshi of time, but the phrase toki no senshi, which really does mean, "soldier of time," appears in non-anime and non-manga sources such as the instruction booklet for the Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn S fighting game for the Super Famicom. In the anime and manga sources, she has the title henkaku no senshi, which means "the soldier of change."21 There is one place where she's called the jik no senshi, which means, "soldier of space-time."22 To say that Sailor Pluto is only the soldier of time is to misrepresent her role in the series.

     Some have claimed that Sailor Saturn is the senshi of death and rebirth, but nobody in the original anime and manga has ever called her that. Even she never calls herself that. "Soldier of death and rebirth" is a mistranslation of hametsu to tanj no senshi, which means, soldier of ruin and birth.23 In the Materials Collection, Ms. Takeuchi has called her the chinmoku no senshi, the soldier of silence.24 To say that Sailor Saturn is only the soldier of death and rebirth is to misrepresent what she and the other people say about her role in the series.

Not Necessarily Switches or Mistakes

     It should be clear by now that the choices that Ms. Takeuchi made for Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn don't necessarily imply mistakes or switches. The argument against her choices is often problematic because it presents oversimplifications and misrepresentations of classical mythology and Bishjo Senshi Sr Mn. A careful study of these two sources will reveal that the ideas behind the deities that are mentioned aren't as simple as the argument suggests, and the ideas behind Sailor Pluto and Sailor Saturn aren't as simple as the argument suggests.

2001-2008 Ian Andreas Miller.  All rights reserved.  Those statements refer to all of the original content on these Web pages.  All of the other works that are mentioned on these pages are the properties of their authors.