Friday, May 28, 2021

How to get to the Moon Kingdom in 'Sailor Moon'

The Moon Kingdom as seen on Sailor Moon Crystal. Credit: Toei Animation

In the Sailor Moon multiverse, the Silver Millennium is an era of peace and prosperity in an inhabited Moon. During this time, Earth's satellite was ruled by Queen Serenity and her daughter Princess Serenity, with the protection of four Sailor Guardians, kinda like the Moon Kingdom's version of the Secret Service. 

We're dipping into ancient alien stuff here. The Moon Kingdom was very advanced for a prehistoric civilization, running on a computer called the Eternity Main System and even maintaining an artificial climate. There was water on this Moon as ice skating was apparently the sport of choice. As they say, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; the entire place is powered by a fine piece of crystal technology, the Silver Crystal.



Everything was copacetic until Earth's Dark Kingdom, led by a lovelorn Queen Beryl (her object of affection, Prince Endymion, was smitten with Princess Serenity like the Greek myth of Endymion and Selene), leveled the kingdom in a devastating war. An awakened Sailor Saturn would later finish the job, but that's a longer story.



Where would the Moon Kingdom be in real life? The Sailor Moon mythos lets it be known that it was somewhere in the Mare Serenitatis, one of the lunar mares that make up the so-called Man in the Moon.



Mare Serenitatis or the Sea of Serenity. Photo via Silvercat

Lunar mares are actually desolate, basaltic plains formed by volcanic eruptions in the Moon's distant past. But life can still manage to be stranger than fiction. Some have gone so far to theorize that the Moon is, in reality, home to bases by intelligent extraterrestrial beings



According to the art books of Naoko Takeuchi, the Moon Kingdom borrows architecturally from someplace more earthly. The legendary manga artist behind Sailor Moon took inspiration from not her native Japan, not Greece, not Italy, but the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria. 



Palmyra was like the Tokyo or Paris of the ancient world. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, it was crossroads for trade and commerce, a literal oasis with a mishmash of Greek and Roman influences in the arts, culture and architecture. The soaring columns and domes of the Moon Kingdom and Palmyra are no coincidences. Let's just say that in the halcyon days of Palmyra, its magnificent Temple of Bel or the breathtaking Tetrakionion could easily pass for fictitious buildings made during the Silver Millennium.



The UNESCO heritage sites of Palmyra in Syria (right) inspired Japanese manga artist Naoko Takeuchi while creating Sailor Moon (left). Images via High Contrast/Wikimedia Commons and Sailormoonoutfits.tumblr.com/BSSM Art Book Volume 2

Neither the Moon Kingdom nor its real-life inspiration could catch a break from forces hellbent on its destruction. Much of Palmyra's remaining heritage structures have been destroyed by ISIL in their campaign of terror. With the way things are, it's probably going to take the magic of Sailor Soldiers to save these architectural marvels.



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