What’s in a Name? The Origin of Bunny

sailor moon

1/3/2011 -S. Barton

As Shakespeare said … “A name? That which we call a rose. By another name would smell as sweet.” The release of Sailor Moon the Movie (Independent Short) has sparked many discussions; especially in regards to Sailor Moon’s film name, Bunny.

The origin of the name, Bunny, has a unique history.  It’s the official French translation of Sailor Moon original name, Usagi Tsukino.  On the other hand, it’s also used in several translations of the series across the globe, including Russia (seasons 1-3), Poland, Germany, Spain, and Greece.

Usagi Tsukino literal translates to Rabbit of the Moon.  It’s a reference to Asian folklore, about a rabbit that lives on the moon making rice cakes. Usagi isn’t a common Japanese name; its a joke from author Naoko Takeuchi. In order to preserve this pun, Usagi was translated to Bunny.

The common misconception surrounding the name’s antiquity, is, the widely accepted fact that publishing company Tokyopop (originally known as Mixx) first created it when they translated the manga into English. Bunny, after all, is an English word.

However, French Sailor Moon was already using it four years prior to TokyoPop’s publication of the manga.  France was the first foreign country to air Sailor Moon in 1993; a year later after the series premiered in Japan. The French version of the manga was published in 1995, by a local publishing company, Glenat. While Tokyopop published the English version in 1997. When the US version of Sailor Moon premiered in 1995*, Usagi was translated to Serena.

What led French translators to choose this name? For now, the answer remains shrouded in mystery. Bunny maybe English nonetheless, its origins are clearly French.

*Sailor Moon was originally premiered in the US in 1995 in the early morning time-slot.  In 1998 it ran on Cartoon Network’s, anime block, Toonami.

Photo: Kris Woodside


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