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Headscratchers: Sailor Nothing

I just read this after seeing it linked from here. I enjoyed it, but "it just bugs me" that practically every pop culture reference has to do with the United States. Without even looking I know it mentions Mission: Impossible, James Bond, Hunter S. Thompson (several times), Shrek, The Princess Diaries, the American legal system—heck, the main love interests even go to the US for a visit. The chef at "Le Chapeau" is also American, and we get to read the author's analysis of the difference between the perception of the death peanalty in Japan vs its perception in the US. I assume the author is American, and Japan DOES have "America fever" much of the time, but it seems excessive coming from a story set in Tokyo with Japanese characters. Why no other international influences? Korean? French?
  • If it was really an anime made in Japan, the American references could be included to appear cool and exotic, like the Christian references in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • I can buy the Hunter S. Thompson thing, but the "capital T truth" thing? I'm reasonably certain Japanese doesn't have capital letters.
      • This would be much the same thing as the characters' dialogue being rendered in English instead of Japanese. I'm certain Japan has some similar form of emphasizing an important word. I'm also certain it would be incomprehensible to most English-speaking readers. (I tried to make this go under the capital T truth complaint, but it didn't work... or did it?)
      • I believe the closest written Japanese equivalent is to write the word in katakana. Certain words are always written in katakana (e.g. foreign words), but it's also used with other words as a form of emphasis. In some cases also, a foreign word may be used in place of a Japanese word to change the sense of it, though precisely how this changes the feel/meaning may vary.
  • Something else: there's a point in the story where Seiki compares the situation to 'an NBC sitcom'. How would a Japanese schoolgirl know what sort of thing is broadcast on an American TV channel?
    • There's a Japanese TV broadcaster with the initials 'NBC' too...
  • The simplest explanation for all of this: the author made almost no effort to convince us it was Japan outside of a couple tidbits of general knowledge. Going far beyond just the excessive references to American culture, the "Japanese" school is anything but. The social structure is pretty much purely American and the attitudes of the classmates go against most Japanese standards. The story works a lot better if you just simply accept that this is not Japan, but Suburbia, USA with some token Japanese elements thrown in.
  • Ooh! Maybe we can convince ourselves that this is a deliberate inversion of how the Sailor Moon dubs went out of their way to try to convince us that the show took place in the US!
  • Come on, like most readers are supposed to know that... and most anime have about the same accuracy or lack thereof in their portrayal of Western cultures, so even if it isn't intentional, it arguably fits the "deconstruction of magical girl anime" idea.
  • Wait, what? Since when is James Bond an American thing? Did someone forget their Magical Moon Researcher transformation kit?
  • Remember FairForItsDay. This is ancient by fanfic standards (it's not a fanfic, but was clearly written with that style and audience in mind), and it uses the storytelling conventions of fanfiction at that time. It grates on the sensibilities of modern readers for a variety of reasons, but this is the way things were written then, and it actually did better than many of its contemporaries as far as culture is concerned.

I don't plan on reading it, because deconstructions depress me, but is Ami the canon Sailor Mercury? And what happened to her that's so terrible?
  • Sailor Nothing is not fan fiction, so no Ami is not Sailor Mercury. As for what happened to her, one of the villains brutally tortured her and and made her into something like a combination music box dancer and marionette. If you're wondering what his motive was, it was a combination of For the Evulz and to make sure the heroines would be determined enough to destroy him and the rest of the villains.

How is it that Himei is able to rip apart the businessman Yamiko in chapter one when we are explicitly told that Sailors do not have superhuman strength?
  • She's simply that filled with anger and rage. Considering that a human on an adrenalin rush can push a car off someone...
  • All is explained in the last few chapters of the story: it's not that she's strong, it's that with the strength of will she gets in her Unstoppable Rage her very touch becomes an anti-yamiko weapon - the amount of actual strength required is no more than that to tear wet tissue.

Why are the Dark Generals named after noble gasses when they started out hundreds of years ago?
  • It could be a modern thing, like "Sailor," but that wouldn't explain Radon. (Or Cobalt, for that matter.)
  • A parody of Theme Naming seen in anime, like how the villains in the first season of Sailor Moon were named after minerals.
  • Simple enough: the author hadn't taken into account the anachronism factor. Whoops! Signed, Twoflower

If losing Magnificent Kamen's support turned Sailor Salvation into a Dark Magical Girl, why didn't Aki and Shin become Dark Magical Girls, too?
  • Losing Kamen's support did not matter, it was her state of mind that did it. As with a Yamiko's body a sailor's powered form is a manifestation of her will/psyche.

Are the names "Shin" and "Seiki" references to Shin Seiki Evangelion?
  • I've been wondering that for the past few weeks - I'd seen the name before, but it just recently clicked.
  • Nope. I used a japanese/english translator to turn character appropriate words (shin=truth) into names. I think my Slayers fics have proven I've got no love for Evangelion... :) — Twoflower

What's with the fixation on rape?
  • Evil Maniacs with no inhibitions have a tendency to do that?
  • I thought it was because rape is a manifestation of both desire and power, which are two basic impulses that drive the id. Naturally, the yamiko would go for rape. And as for Shin's uncle, he was just a bastard.
    • There was only one rape in the story, and one in backstory. A higher proportion than one would expect in reality, but hardly a fixation by the standards of dramatic fiction.
      • I've only read the first chapter and I've counted two instances where rape was casually used as a metaphor. Though the actual act only happened twice, the fixation is still there.

Why did Aki see through Himei's Clark Kenting on the spot, while it took Shin and Kotashi considerable mental effort to even accept the possibility?

How the hell did Himei get past her rape so quickly? She tried to kill herself, and then she goes into hospital for a few days, and then when she gets out, she's all better. She even ends up with the guy who looks just like her rapist. I know there's the whole "It wasn't you, it was your yamiko", but even ordinary rape victims have problems with intimacy for a long time after the experience. You'd expect at least some hang-ups.
  • The other things that happened to her over the five years weren't really outclassed that much by the rape. To give a comparison, I think that an innocent businessman getting shot while he sips his morning latte would suffer a lot more trauma than a seasoned soldier in the middle of a firefight. She had been teetering on the edge of suicide for a long time prior, so it was a plausible heat of the moment reaction, but in retrospect, it was just a bit worse of a day than usual.
  • But in that case, really, what's the point? If it's not really that big a deal in the scheme of things, why dunk something like that in the narrative - especially if everyone's immediate reaction especially the victim's is that it's a huge, awful, life-ending deal. I can completely believe that levels of trauma vary and that someone with strong survival instincts, who lives with a lot of violence could steel themselves to cope with rape as just another bad experience that will be over soon. But she never expresses anything like that before or after. Indeed, afterwards everything seems to be about the suicide attempt, and how she's over that - the rape seems to stop even being addressed. And then she snaps out of her trauma about not just the rape, but everything else. To be honest, it was there I stopped reading. I know the intent was that the the suicide attempt was "what she needed" - which is questionable enough - but considering why she attempted suicide it read as though the rape was some kind of Epiphany Therapy and that really turned me off. Oh, also, if she was doing T-SHAPED CUTS in her arms to be sure it would work, how the hell would the doctors think it was a cry for help? And why doesn't she GET more help?
    • The mere fact that she resisted suicide for so long alludes to her remarkable inner strength. Why would the rape be addressed again? They're in the middle of fighting for their lives at that point; the Yamiko war takes precedence and its reasonable to assume that she would suppress such issues until after the immediate danger has been dealt with. We are shown very little of the aftermath, of the war, the time period in which the girls would turn their attention back to such issues. It is possible to temporarily remove the urge for suicide through extreme self-harm (particularly a suicide attempt that doesn't work) — the only unbelievable part of that situation was how somebody so inclined resisted for so long, and hey, she's the heroine.
    • Could you imagine the scenario if Himei walked into a therapist's office? "So, Himei, tell me what's bothering you?" "Well, I'm secretly a soldier in a war against evil, and I go out every night to fight yamiko, and the guy who raped me is the yamiko/dark side of my boyfriend." "....um, right. * quietly recommends that Himei be institutionalised* "
  • I don't know about the appropriateness of the moment of Himei's suicide attempt, but in terms of how the rape's impact is treated and why even have it, I get the feeling that the point of the rape isn't to traumatize Himei (who's already all sorts of traumatized on many levels), but to traumatize Seiki. His first real introduction to what's really going on is watching 'himself' (or rather someone physically identical and in a lot of ways mentally similar, and whose existence he feels responsible for) violate a girl he cares about. The timing of Himei's suicidal urge helps let him feel like he may end up responsible for her death as well. In the aftermath of all this, Himei feels far worse about the position the situation has put Seiki in than anything it did to her, and it sets up the relationship dynamic between them of each feeling deeply responsible for each other's well-being.
  • This troper saw it as a deconstruction of a very specific series of events common in magical-girl anime and manga, often happening at least once per season: The heroine experiences some kind of ultimate crisis, gives up her quest in a cathartic meltdown, only to be brought back into action by either The Power of Friendship or The Power of Love (the latter in this case). Whether or not it works from a storytelling sense is a very good question, but also part of the point: Himei's reactions are quite well-reasoned and rational, but to the point of being in the UncannyValley of human psychology. Even some of the cast members, most notably Seiki, are uncomfortable with it. One could see it as a demonstration of just how broken Himei is -she recovers so quickly because she's just that far gone to begin with, or as an attempt at pointing out just how ridiculous it is that the main character, often portrayed as fragile and/or vulnerable before the sequence in question, suddenly finds massive inner strength.
  • The rape is also used to characterize Shin. She's so obsessed with rooting out The Truth that she's willing to publicize the war on the yamiko, but in this case she decides it's better for everyone if she covers up the rape.

Lampshade Hanging aside, why did Kamen leave Dusty around with his "sailorification" powers, even if he did expect Himei to commit suicide?
  • Probably the same reason why he didn't remove Himei or Aki's powers: because he simply wasn't capable of it. It was a one way transfer.
  • I think he was really asking "Why didn't he get rid of Dusty", so that's not quite the answer. I think the answer is that Kamen felt sullied every time he did anything directly in the human world. The whole world Disgusted him with a capital D, everything outside the palace did. He kept the sailor's at a distance unless they were in mortal danger and only nudged them in directions that would either make them into the weapon he thought he needed or get them killed if they were unsuitable. Also, in all those years noone had yet tried making more sailors to help them out; it's fairly reasonable that he didn't consider the possibility.

I get that we're dealing with staple high school drama here but why is getting called 'weird eye' so traumatic? As insults go it's pretty damn weak.
  • It's not the quality of the insult, but the attitude behind it. It wasn't just that these kids were insulting her, but they were pretty much doing everything within their power to make her miserable. As such, their weak insult becomes associated with all the mean things they've done over time. There are a lot of insults in history that might have originally been very weak or even a valid description, but became associated with hatred over time.
    • I was simply taunted as "flea bag" in grade school. Weak. Except I heard it every day. And it was how I was introduced to new kids. A handful of pebbles can start to really sting, used right.
    • It's not the shape of the word, it's the meaning they put it in. Boys called me "pretty" - which isn't even a taunt of itself. Except they put so much mock into the word it meant the exact opposite.
  • It's the 'hen' part that's important. Translated, 'hen' just means 'strange' or 'weird,' which doesn't sound to bad to us. But in Japanese, it's a bit more harsh to use that towards somebody. Or at least that's what a Japanese instructor told me.

I like the story, but the "priestess revelation" Just Bugs Me. I preferred it when the "magic" was unexplained. When it was, it went past "magic" and into "oogie-boogie new-agey stuff" — a rather clumsy version of Doing in the Wizard .
  • Who says magic can't be oogie-boogie? Plus, if you don't provide a logical explanation for magic, people complain it's all an Ass Pull. Look at how many times in these pages people refuse to accept "It's just MAGIC!" as an explanation.
    • As Randy Stradley put it, "When you define, you confine." Since there can be no realistic explanation for the powers the Sailors, Yamiko and Dusty display, and the story tries to be realistic overall, the only way I see to avoid pissing off a considerable chunk of readers is not to offer any explanation at all, prompting the reader to come up with explanations that satisfy them (anything from A Wizard Did It to Imported Alien Phlebotinum to... more controversial stuff, if desired).
    • I thought the explanation was very good. It's a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. You can't leave the magical part unexplained.
  • I don't see how it's Doing in the Wizard . It's still magic, just not the Final Fantasy style casts-the-spells-that-makes-the-peoples-fall-down type of magic.

The whole thing with Shin's dark half bugs me. Killing Yamiko because they do bad things is ok, but killing humans because they do bad things is not. Bigotry and double standard much?
  • But a common one.
  • Human criminals can be captured, subjected to a fair trial and punished by society. Yamiko must be killed on the spot or they will simply escape back to the Dark World. Furthermore we know that Yamiko are pure evil (unless magically assisted) and will continue to commit atrocities unless destroyed.
    • Ah, but in the case of Shin and her uncle she wasn't able to press charges against him making the possibility of a fair trial moot in that case.
    • Human teenage girls fight uncontrollable monsters who try to kill them. Of course they're going to see them as subhuman.
    • It's not like Magnificent Kamen encouraged humanization of the Yamiko, either. Salvation fought them because she was a heroic magical girl doing what heroic magical girls do, Nothing fought them because they were hurting people, and Cobalt and Himei never got a chance to compare notes. With the exception of Cobalt, Radon and especially Ohta, the Yamiko are animalistic monsters. (Yes, including Argon; he's just better at keeping a lid on it than most.) Shin might have killed her uncle to stop him from hurting another girl, like Seiki did to Radon, but she wasn't going to cut him down in cold blood. (And an argument could be made that letting him live was Cruel Mercy.)
    • It's kind of more disturbing that you think human beings and nonhuman creatures (not even animals) who can and will and do cause untold amounts of human suffering should be handled in the same way.
    • A human who kills and rapes and is blatantly irredeemable being treated differently than a shadowy humanoid doing the same thing is blatantly a double standard. Equally insane things who can and will and do cause untold amounts of human suffering would be handled in the same way in a fair world.

The Dark Queen was created because the priestess used a forbidden purification spell. Wouldn't this mean there were Yamiko that predated the Dark Queen?
  • Maybe, but not necessarily. The people who forbade it might have been wiser and able to foresee the consequences of using it.
  • Or this had all happened before.

What kind of Japanese cat name is "Dusty" anyway?
  • You'd be surprised how popular "cool" English names are in Japan. Usually nobody understands what they mean. But hey, As Long as It Sounds Foreign...

So just to be clear... were we supposed to accept as a given that nothing except sailor magic could hurt Yamiko? I'm not going to pretend that things would be pleasant without the sailors to fight them, but I don't think that the entire species would be in chains within the week should they all die. Humans are remarkably good at crafting weapons with the power to kill something far stronger than a human and are very even adaptable enough to adjust their tactics to tricks such as "The enemy can teleport" and "The enemy can turn your people against you, once per person" (hint: sleep in shifts). That goes double if Shin/Kotashi could expose the details of their enemy's abilities early in the game.
  • Perhaps it's not that sailors are the only ones who can hurt them, so much as the only ones that can detect them. Yamiko are at least smart enough to avoid any unnecessary attention in the human world, and aren't about to go take on the military. Sailors, on the other hand, notice them as soon as they appear, and go take them down. In fact, they take them down before anyone else can take action — if they weren't there, chances are the military would get involved. It's been a long time since I've read the series, so I don't remember which character said that only sailor powers could defeat them, but the only characters in a position to say that are Radon, who would say that regardless of whether it's true or not, and the priestess, who is probably completely unfamiliar with modern weaponry and would thus assume that sailor powers are stronger than anything available.
  • Um, I'm not big on criminal stuff, but how soon does police capture a serial killer?.. And how soon when there are several of those, and they act pretty much the same way?..
  • It's important to note that the main source for the "all of humanity would be doomed without the Sailors" postulate is Argon, who is far from a credible source. It's not like lying or hyperbole are concepts too evil for him. Also, it may have just been yet another attempt to ensure that the Sailors would have the resolve to kill him and the Dark Queen.
  • Without the sailors to detect and kill them early, they could very quickly amass a huge army. This army would have certain advantages over human militaries. They'd always have a place to retreat to instantly, always have perfect intelligence due to being near-perfect spies, slowly develop super powers, be some level of invulnerable, and be perfectly able to steal and use human weaponry on their own, including things like missile launch codes. A lot of yamiko would die in the process, but I'm willing to bet the human race would be pretty well screwed.

The priestess is capable of making a Yamiko's mind work the same way a human mind does. Why does she only do this three times?
  • Probably because someone would notice if she did it too many times. A few times would probably slip past without comment — the Yamiko aren't very organized. But if she did it willy-nilly, even the Yamiko would have to notice that something was up eventually.
  • Alternatively, the spell is complicated / exhausting / requires resources that, for her, are rare. Basically, there may have been some limiting factor that made it so that she could only perform it those few times.
  • Look at what happened to Radon when she clarified his mind . It didn't make him any less evil, it made him less distracted by his own evil. Doing that over and over again to the truly depraved would have been counterproductive.

How did ALL of the Sailors get tricked by Yamiko!Seiki? More to the point - how were they up for partying at all? They should have known that a Yamiko had been born, and they should have been primed for battle and on their way. Yet for some reason their Spider-sense is turned off that night. All three of them. What gives?
  • It's noted in the first chapter than the sailors can only sense yamiko within a certain range. Maybe Seiki's house was just too far away. This troper did think it was odd that Yamiko!Seiki managed to trick Shin, though. She's usually smarter (and more paranoid) than that.
  • Considering that this was in chapter eight, it's easy to miss, but they DID sense the birth of a yamiko, but they couldn't find it and assumed it got away. And once it's born, they can't distinguish a yamiko from a regular human.

So... how did Cobalt survive the Yami-gaia's destruction? Did whatever the Priestess did to restore his free will protect him?
  • Yes. The Priestess explicitly states that she disconnected him from the queen. Thus, her death didn't mean his end.

When Seiki walked into the Journalism Club Room and saw Shin's captured footage of the Sailors by accident, he immediately thought it was an episode of Magical Princess Sailor Rose Wand. But isn't that show an in-universe anime? And wouldn't the footage of the real-life Sailors actually be in live action? The characters seem to reference anime as an unrealistic medium in itself, so it's hard to believe that they themselves exist as anime characters who watch anime characters on TV and somehow accept that they're different but maybe look exactly the same or maybe they aren't really... what.
  • I was bothered by this at first, but then I realised that shows like to do style switches all the time. I mean, Madoka goes into crazy cut out puppet theater mode every time they fight something. So it's possible that Seiki assumed it was an episode switched into Live Action for aesthetic effect, or maybe Rose Wand just has live action segments for final attacks or special battles or something.
    • Sailor Moon itself has live action scenes, Rose Wand probably went a similar route with weird spinoffs.

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