The Naoko Takeuchi Star System

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Mar 8, 2012
Not really being familiar with a lot of manga or anime series outside of Sailor Moon and the rest of Naoko's oeuvre, I'd always chalked up her frequent recycling of character designs to either laziness or creative limitations.

Recently, however, I've been reading about the "Star Systems" of manga artists like Osamu Tezuka and Fujio Akatsuka who treated their characters like a classic film studio's stable of actors, bringing them back again and again for cameo appearances, or casting them in new roles altogether.

(Read more here and here.)

Anyway, this got me wondering if perhaps Naoko were trying to do the same thing: treat her character( design)s as actors in her own "Star System" whom she could bring back again and again. She has called attention to her recycling of character designs before (like when Usagi notes that Ami looks like Miss Rain, which further indicates that Naoko's manga and Naoko herself exist in the world of Sailor Moon), so it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. There's also the fact that Miss Haruna Sakurada appears in The Cherry Project, which perhaps makes that series part of the broader canon of the Sailor Moon universe. (A Miss Akina Sakurada appears as a teacher in PQ Angels. It seems reasonable to assume she's Haruna's and Natsuna's sister, thus making PQ Angels part of the Sailor canon, too.)

If we assume this to be the case, then clearly Mamoru's, Ami's, and Rei's actors are Naoko's favorites. Inconsistencies with character designs can also be explained away by this meta-narrative: for example, Ikuko's and Reika's changing hair colors can be explained as their actors simply dying their hair between arcs.

In the "Star Systems" of Tezuka and Akatsuka, it appears that sometimes seemingly different characters "played" by the same "actor" are meant to be the same character. Can we apply that frame of interpretation to Naoko's works? For example, is it possible that Ami does not simply look like Miss Rain, she is Miss Rain? The Cherry Project features a trio of young men: Masanori Tsuzuki, Kouichi Akiyama, and Hiroshi Fujiwara. Masanori looks like Jadeite and Kouichi like Zoisite - might they actually be Jadeite and Zoisite before they were awakened by Beryl? (Hiroshi has dark hair but otherwise does not resemble Nephrite, so I'm not sure I'd conclude they're one and the same.)

I haven't been able to dive too deep into Naoko's work to come up with more theories, so I'll leave that to you guys for now ;)

Sailor Starlight

Lumen Cinereum
May 31, 2009
Tankei Kingdom, Kinmoku
Personally, I hate the idea of "star systems". Treating a character design as an actor is too meta for my taste. It also seems like an excuse to be lazy and unimaginative. Regardless, I highly doubt Naoko was going for that approach. The connections you listed are too weak and lacking in any sort of consistency and pattern.
Likes: Umino


Aurorae Lunares
Jul 6, 2018
Most manga artists simply struggle with varying their style. You can always spot that in 90% of older shoujo stuff. Look at CLAMP, for example, or Rumiko Igarashi - same characters over and over again. In fact during the 70s and 80s everybody drew the exact same way. :D While in modern manga they vary the designs more, the laziness comes in different forms - empty pannels, lack of detailed background, heroines with short hair or ponytails so they don't have to draw the flowy hair which used to be the shoujo signature, the horrible, in my opinion, moe art where everybody look like they are 10. Of course there are exceptions. Look even at Attack on Titan - therr are five facial types at most, just combined with different hair to make different character. While she has the Sakurada sisters going on, most of it is simply reference to her other titles, rather than actual characters in common.
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