It’s been over two years since I first went on a Sailor Moon real-life location pilgrimage in Azabu-Juban, where I was living at the time. I soon found out about another significant real-life spot in the series: 天王洲アイル (Tennouzu Isle). Coincidentally, it is also the closest station for the company I currently work at. During one of my lunch breaks, I finally got around to taking some shots, and now present you with another compilation of Sailor Moon real life comparisons!
What is Mugen Gakuen (Academy)?
If you watched the series until the third season, Sailor Moon S, you would have been rewarded with the appearance of the Outer Senshi. In particular, you would have seen the lovely duo of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune grace your screens almost every episode. Their alter egos, Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, attend a posh private high school called Mugen Gakuen. The facade of this school is actually based on two separate buildings located in Tennouzu Isle: Sea Fort Square and Sphere Tower Tennozu. You can see for yourself the undeniable similarities below.
First, the exterior
How about the interior?
Sadly, the exterior is about the extent of the faithful resemblance. Seafort Square is not a school at all in real life; rather it houses offices, various shops and connects to a hotel. Similarly, Sphere Tower is mostly a skyscraper of offices, although there is also a gym on one of the floors. The interior in general does not really match Mugen Gakuen’s. That is, except for this staircase sandwiched by escalators in Sea Fort Square.
In the Sailor Moon series, the inside of Mugen Gakuen is super cool, complete with an elevator than runs through the centre of the multi-storey academy.
The bottom left panel does resemble the real life design, but the middle panel is somewhat divorced from reality.
Not that reality is bad either. With the Christmas decorations up, Sea Fort Square does look pretty magical actually.
But how about the inside of Sphere Tower? Does it resemble Mugen Gakuen at all? Not really, from as far as I can tell. But that doesn’t mean it’s not sleek and modern in its own way.
The waterfront area
Coming soon! I haven’t had the chance to snap the waterfront because it’s been too cold this week, but stay tuned!
Last but not least, the station
Still not convinced? Here’s a bonus for you. The top is a scan from the manga showing Mugen Gakuen’s station. The bottom is the actual Tennouzu Isle Station on the Tokyo Monorail Line.
You don’t have to be Sherlock to see the similarities, especially the digital signboard and stairs leading down to the platform. The only major difference is the vending machine next to the male toilets.
But what seals the deal is that the station is aptly named “Mugenzu”, with the kanji for “zu” (洲) exactly the same as Tennouzu’s. You can rule coincidence out as “zu”, which means “sandbank”, is not a common station name; only 3 other stations in all of Tokyo use it. And all of them, unsurprisingly, are close to the water. Two of them are actually Toyosu (豊洲) and Shin-Toyosu (新豊洲), the new site of the Fish Market which moved from Tsukiji. The third, Samezu (鮫洲), also has a strong connection to fish hunting, which is quite the no-brainer given that “same” means “shark”. Like Tennouzu Isle, it is located in Shinagawa Ward.
Anyway, I digress. What I want to say is: if the name of the station in Sailor Moon is not a nod towards where Takeuchi based Mugen Gakuen on, then I don’t know what is.
Every Sailor Moon fan knows that Sailor Uranus/Haruka’s surname is 天王 (tenou), named after the Japanese for the planet Uranus, which is 天王星 (tennousei). This also happens to be exactly the same kanji used for the area of Tennouzu Isle. I wonder if that’s why Naoko Takeuchi chose Tennouzu Isle as her inspiration for Mugen Gakuen and the area where the Outer Senshi live? Just a theory.
Regardless of the reason, it is pretty cool to be able to say I once lived in “Juban”, and now work at “Mugen Gakuen”! 😉
P.S. Those of you who have had to endure visa renewals at the Immigration Office in Tokyo will probably also find this station familiar.
Credit: Manga/anime screenshots from this Japanese blogger.