Anime Classical: Sailor Neptune, Anime’s Most Popular Violinist

(by Brian Davidson)

How many out there can remember the one member of the Sailor Moon team who’s greatest strengths was playing the violin?!

Sailor Neptune, the alternate identity of Michiru Kaioh (or Michelle Kaioh in the English adaptations), was part of the all-female fighting team who transform into supernatural fighters to fulfill their duty of protecting the Solar System and the franchise’s eponymous protagonist from evil (ie. Anime school girls fighting monsters).

Sailor Neptune cosplayerSailor Neptune was the most controversial characters of the popular Sailor Moon series due in part to her relationship with fellow evil-fighting partner and lover Sailor Uranus. For a mainstream cartoon series in the 90s to introduce a lesbian couple, the censors were definitely off the charts. While the lesbian relationship was maintained in the original Japanese airings of the show, the relationship was drastically altered/censored for US airings with Uranus and Neptune being labled as cousins with Uranus having an ex-boyfriend and defined as heterosexual.

In the Italian dub, the relationship between Uranus and Neptune is altered to resemble a sister-like relationship, while oddly enough the French dub has the pair perceived as Uranus posing as a man in civilian form, and Neptune pretending to be “his” girlfriend, to help protect their identities. Okkkk.

Sailor Neptune would become one of the series’ most popular characters and characterized as being elegant and sophisticated yet an incredibly skilled fighter.  An antihero of the group, Sailor Neptune would occasionally be seen playing her violin, with the actual medley used in the cartoon series being one of the most recognized to all anime fans.  The medley has also been performed by a host of popular violinists including that of superstar prodigy and Olympian Vanessa Mae of the United Kingdom.

Michiru’s violin, a Stradivarius worth some five million dollars according to the Sailor Moon story arc, is called the Marine Cathédrale, named after “the temple of the sea”. Aside from playing it in concert, Sailor Neptune can be seen in the franchise’s magna series using the violin when fighting for a move named the “Submarine Violon Tide.”

While Sailor Neptune has stirred quite the bit of controversy, she remains ever so popular amongst cosplayers.  In fact you’d be hard pressed to visit a comic con or anime fest without seeing a single Sailor Neptune cosplayer.  Add to the fact that many cosplayers have learned to play the violin simply to better mimic Sailor Neptune’s character and it only makes the popularity and influence of the cartoon ever the more impressive.

She may be remembered most for being the series’ most censored character and a symbol of the politically correct 90s, but Sailor Neptune is undoubtedly etched for all time as one of the most significant moments in anime.

Doesn’t hurt she bashed a few evil-doers with a violin either.



For a bonus, here’s the addictive Sailor Moon theme song in violin.



“Anime Classical” is AltoRiot’s ongoing series that looks at some of the interesting moments of classical music fused into the ever growing and popular animated medium.  Unlike traditional western animated series and films, anime heavily integrates the use of classical music not only as backing tracks but in the culture of their characters and lifestyles.  Anime Classical takes a deeper cultural look at how these two often niche genres merge together.  See more Anime Classical posts by clicking here.

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