A few weeks ago I was rewatching the 1999 hit film “The Matrix” and I came to a realization that I somehow hadn’t before. The Matrix and the 1995 animated film Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie have basically the same story. Both movies’ villains have a massive farm of humans stuck in a simulated reality for the purpose of enslaving them and draining their energy for their own purpose.
In The Matrix a bunch of robots which have captured all of the people of Earth to have them living in pods which plug them into a complex computer simulation, called the Matrix, which exists just to keep people occupied while they are used as a power source to keep the machines running. I’m still not sure why they didn’t populate it with cows.
In Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie the villain Badiane kidnaps the world’s children by the boatload and puts them into these pod like Dream Coffins where they sleep forever in a simulated reality, their dreams. Marzipan Castle appears to be a futuristic spaceship with metallic walls which look like large computer circuit boards. Badiane uses the children as a power source for her Black Dream Hole by extracting their Sugar Energy, which grows inside of children’s dreams, from them. Her plan is to envelop the Earth into her Black Dream Hole, placing all of the humans into Dream Coffins. In the case of this movie it seems likely that cow and calf dreams do not generate Sugar Energy.
Elements of choice and happiness come into both films. In The Matrix we learn from Agent Smith that an original incarnation of The Matrix simulation was a paradise but that this didn’t work. Humans rejected this reality and kept trying to wake up from it.
In Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie, when Sailor Moon enters the Black Dream Hole she goes into a seemingly perfect dream world where she can be alone with Mamoru. When things appear too good to be true she asks him if she is more important to him than Chibiusa. When he chooses her she knows that it’s an illusion and, like Neo being freed from the Matrix, breaks out of her Dream Coffin. Sailor Moon does the equivalent of choosing the Red Pill, a symbol of the truth, to escape her simulated reality, rather than remaining blissfully ignorant like Cypher eating his delicious simulated steak. For her like those early crops of humans a paradise may seem like what she wants but she just doesn’t believe it.
The similarities seems obvious with a little thought, but is it just a coincidence or is there some inspiration at play? The Matrix, released in 1999, was a tremendous influence on decades of movies which followed it to the point where what was groundbreaking at the time seems standard upon repeated viewings since this is what so many films look like these days. But Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie was released in 1995, a whole 4 years before the Matrix. The Wachowskis are huge anime fans with Ghost in the Shell, released in 1996, being their most obvious influence. There was certainly enough time for them to have seen and drawn inspiration from the film. Though the English dubbed version of the film wasn’t out until years later many anime fans had seen the film not long after its Japanese release.
While I’m sure one could splice together clips of the film and present a compelling conspiracy theory for why The Wachowskis absolutely ripped off this movie, I don’t think this one is guaranteed. It’s possible and the timeline would work out, but given we don’t have any specific indication that either Lana or Lilly Wachowski were Sailor Moon fans I’m willing to accept that this may be a coincidence. Stories of simulated realities had existed before in science fiction stories and I don’t pretend that everything that was similar to something which came before it was necessarily an homage or rip off.
The Matrix and Sailor Moon SuperS The Nine Sailor Soldiers Gather! The Miracle of The Black Dream Hole are both great films with a great science concept at their core. Do you think the similarities are more than chance?
Yeah, there are some similarities, I’ll admit that now that I look at it. And the timeline thing does give the theory a little bit of validity. But as a novelist, I can tell you that there is nothing original under the sun. People have similar ideas all the time, and the only thing it proves is that Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious might have something to it.
You’d be surprised how often these coincidences come up. Remember how people accused Suzanne Collins of stealing the idea of Battle Royale to create The Hunger Games? She has insisted that she’s never read the book, and maybe she hasn’t. Maybe she has. We don’t know. But before we start spinning theories about that, perhaps we should spin a few theories about how Koushun Takami and Suzanne Collins may have stolen from Doctor Who. Not many people know this, but in January 1985, Doctor Who did a story called Vengeance on Varos, in which the planet of Varos has state-sanctioned torture and death matches, some of which is broadcast on television for the viewing audiences. Sound familiar? The timeline works even better than in the Sailor Moon example, because both books came out years after this particular Doctor Who story. But then again, I don’t think either author has ever watched Doctor Who, Classic or New, so that could also be a coincidence.
Speaking of Doctor Who, one of the earliest Doctor Who stories, The Aztecs, involves the Doctor and companions being istaken for gods in the ancient Aztec empire, and one of them trying to end sacrifices, only to fail miserably. Years later, Dreamworks releases The Road to El Dorado, which has very similar plot elements to the Doctor Who serial. Who knows? Perhaps they actually did steal from DW, or perhaps they just wanted to tell a story about El Dorado, and this idea popped up during a board meeting involving white men being mistaken for gods, which actually happened in the 16th century with the actual Aztecs.
And here’s an example from my own work: in my sci-fi trilogy Reborn City, the first two books feature a character named 011 (pronounced “Oh-Eleven”), a psychopath with the ability to excite particles in a surface enough to make them explode using his mind. Last year, Netflix released Stranger Things, which features a psychic character named Eleven. While their powers, personalities, and other things differ, both characters received their powers in government facilities through experiments to create powerful assets for whatever wars may come.
And earlier this year, Agents of SHIELD featured an Inhuman character whose ability is similar to my 011, in which he can blow up things (and himself) with his mind by exciting the particles in them. He’s also a bit of a psycho.
But I highly doubt either the Duffer Brothers or the Agents of SHIELD writers have read my sci-fi trilogy, as cool as that would be. Like I said, no idea is original. We all are just humans with imaginations, and sometimes those imaginations produce similar products.
Very well said.
I totally agree. I think there are stories and plot ideas that are just things people think of. In my time I’ve seen plots repeated in so many different shows from different countries and aimed at different age groups that inspiration and ripping off doesn’t begin to cover it. The 7 billion people on this planet will come up with similar ideas from time to time! I tried to make that obvious in my analysis. I just thought the similarities were fun to notice.
Why doesn’t anyone care about Sailor Mars being mean to Sailor Moon again in Season 3 of Sailor Moon Crystal?
That doesn’t have anything to do with the conversation…
But, I think most of us like her teasing Usagi. It’s not mean-spirited, it’s playful teasing and totally fine, I’m sure it’s part of what makes Usagi and Rei such good friends. My best friend teases me like that all the time and though he can get me riled, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Good friends often bug each other but notice that every time Usagi mentions the other girls she starts with Rei or Mars.
That scene in Sailor Moon Stars where she runs to Rei over everyone else…gets me every time.
I don’t think it’s because she loves Rei more. I just think it’s that they bonded in a way she didn’t with the others.
Very well said.
I always thought that there were many similarities between the Matrix and the anime/manga X/1999 by Clamp. The girl that is attached to the machine, the polar opposites of Kamui (Neo) and Fuuma (Agent Smith), the oracles, the occasional enemies that show up in black suits and sun glasses (Agents)… lots of similarities that in my opinion are way too difficult to ignore.
I can’t wait for the VIZ dub of this movie.
Well I’ll just go and watch Matrix then XD
similarites, However there would be no matrix without Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the shell is matrix we might as well say Hearts in ICE has the same platform as Frozen.
Sailor Moon is depicting the matrix in extreme detail right down to the six sided Saturn Cube boxes the people were trapped inside. As for why they don’t put cows or horses into the Matrix, perhaps only sentient beings that contain Pure Heart Crystals/Star Seeds are suitable to have their power drained? We also see a similar thing in Star Trek Voyager where an evil entity tries to entice Captain Janeway into his matrix. Plato’s cave is the same analogy which dates back thousands of years. If you get right down to it everything that people like David Icke say is contained in Sailor Moon. The point I am trying to make is the collective consciousness of humanity is warning us about a matrix that is trying to steal our spiritual energy. I also must touch on the symbol atop Pluto’s garnet rod, how incredible it was when they discovered the Planet Pluto really does in fact have a heart shaped mark on it, if that isn’t higher knowledge I don’t know what is?
In Sailor Moon it is easy enough to explain that the energy that is often drained from humans is unique to humans. Usually energy is linked to some human trait and in later seasons more specifically to a pure heart, dream or what not. Cows, it would seem, don’t have heart crystals, dream mirrors, star seeds or, conceivably, the same kind of energy which the Dark Kingdom, Cardians and the Black Moon Clain seek out. When Ail has to pick his Cardian because An is stuck in school it ends up draining the energy of ducks in a pond. This doesn’t appear to do much good as humans provide much better energy. That’s Sailor Moon. It’s all magic and dreams and fun stuff.
The Matrix is science fiction. The humans create energy purely by body heat which is, through some undefined mechanism, extracted as electricity or some kind of power to the machines. It’s difficult to create a simulation which keeps humans busy. They chose to disbelieves the reality of anything but a near perfect simulation and even then, if the Architect can be trusted, only some 99% actually “chose” (subconsciously) to live in The Matrix, hence the elaborate subterfuge of Zion and The One which give the illusion of control. Cows wouldn’t have this problem. We have cows which are kept in farm and pens. Actually most of the cows on Earth are fully in captivity and do very little to disbelieve or try to escape this reality, cognitively or physically. I don’t think a Cow Matrix would be hard to keep control over.
As for Pluto, I’m not convinced. Yes I made a post about the similarity when it came out but coincidence more than explains that. Human recognise patterns such as that of the heart. I’d need more than that to be convinced that I’m living in The Matrix or something similar.