How much does the Galaxy Cauldron from Sailor Moon resemble the recently imaged supermassive black hole?

An image of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 Galaxy

Earlier this week Nasa released the first ever image of a black hole. I’m referring to it as an image and not a photograph due to the technique used. For more on the specifics check out this special mini episode of The Reality Check featuring Exposing Pseudoastronomy’s Stuart Robbins. This is an image of the supermassive black hole which is located at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy which is about 55 million light year away. This of course makes one immediately think of Sailor Moon! The final conflict between Sailor Moon and Galaxia takes place at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. In this case it’s at the Galaxy Cauldron, the birthplace of all of the Milky Way’s heavenly bodies. What, if any, basis does this location have in reality? Most, possibly all, galaxies have a supermassive black hole at the centre and so the imaged black hole in Messier 87 is likely quite similar to the one in the Milky Way.

Sagittarius Zero Star

The Stars arc of the manga mentions a number of times that the location in the centre of the galaxy where Galaxia finds what she is looking for and ultimately where Sailor Moon follows, is Sagittarius Zero Star. This is a fictional place however it is mentioned that it is located within Sagittarius Alpha Star. This is based on a real astronomical area which, in the real world like in the manga, is located at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, our galaxy. The actual of the area is “Sagittarius A*“, pronounced “Sagittarius A Star”, which is quite close in spelling to the fictional “Sagittarius Alpha Star”. No Galaxy Cauldron or Galaxia’s castle exists at Sagittarius A* which describes the entire supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy!

So what, if anything, is the black hole meant to be? Is all of Sagittarius Alpha Star the supermassive black hole in Sailor Moon? It isn’t really clear. As Sagittarius Zero Star is located at the centre of Sagittarius Alpha Star it seems like this itself isn’t in the black hole. One can wonder how much of this area Naoko Takeuchi chose to base on black holes.

Sailor Moon enters the Galaxy Cauldron

One feature of a black hole is the loss of any information which enters it. This doesn’t mean that a book entering a black hole comes out empty, but rather than any information, such the way matter is arranged or a signal that enters it, would be lost. What does eventually escape a black hole is known as Hawking Radiation and this does not preserve the information of what originally went into the black hole. When entering Sagittarius Alpha Star, traveling to meet Sailor Galaxia, Sailor Moon travels down the River of Forgetfulness where Sailor Lethe causes her to lose her memory. It may be a bit of a stretch but there’s a comparison to be made here. The information in a person’s mind is lost when entering a black hole and that is manifested as a magical process in which memory is lost. The counterpart to Sailor Lethe is Sailor Mnemosyne and the River of Memory. I can’t say I can think of a black hole equivalent to this!

Further there’s the idea that nothing escapes the event horizon of a black hole. When Sailor Moon enters the Galaxy Cauldron there is an expectation that she could not come out or remain intact. Guardian Cosmo mentions that she is powerful to maintain her appearance inside the Cauldron. Is this a reference to things being stuck in a black hole or the loss of information? Clearly we have things in Sailor Moon which do actually get preserved after entering the black hole and subsequently escape it, but this is presented as being exceptional. This is a magical series where hard rules are often broken. How many times has the Silver Crystal been used and not resulted in Sailor Moon’s death or had her somehow cheat that rule after all?

Galaxy Cauldron

Besides this the Galaxy Cauldron exhibits a number of properties which don’t really fit with black holes or more specifically the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It is said to be the birthplace of all heavenly bodies in the Milky Way. This would include all stars, planets and moons. Pretty much anything which has a Sailor Guardian! This isn’t really how the galaxy works to be sure. Solar systems, with their stars, planets, moons and other celestial bodies, are formed as matter from dust and gasses groups together thanks to gravity in the vastness of space. This does not require a black hole and quite to the contrary, if any of this matter does go into a black hole, it generally doesn’t come out. A star which explodes certainly can eventually be reformed as new stars, planets and such, but a black hole is not included in this life cycle. This also plays around Sailor Crystals which go in and out of the Galaxy Cauldron. This behaviour certainly makes sense as an in universe explanation of things but it doesn’t fit with how black holes work. A supermassive black hole will grow in mass and size as other stars and celestial bodies enter them, but this is a one way trip.

Considering that the Milky Way is only one of the countless galaxies in our Universe, what happens in other galaxies? Does the Messier 87 galaxy, along with its supermassive black hole, also contain a Galaxy Cauldron which is the birthplace of all heavenly bodies in that galaxy? Does every celestial body have a Sailor Guardian? Would Galaxia and Chaos have moved on to another galaxy when they were done with the Milky Way or are the distances between galaxies too vast to bridge? When two galaxies collide, as happens frequently in the cosmos, do the various Sailor Guardians from those galaxies fight each other? Does everyone else also look like a human for some reason? These questions almost certainly don’t have answers!

The Black Dream Hole

Besides this reference to the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, we also have a black hole featured in the movie Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. This black hole has only some similarities to real black holes. It is black! That’s a similarity! Things get absorbed by it and seemingly can’t escape it, though again Sailor Moon goes in and is able to get out, by destroying it, but again she’s full of magic and such. The way in which it is very unlike a real black hole is its enormous size! A black hole with the mass of the entire Earth would have a radius of less than a centimetre. As the Black Dream Hole is attempting to absorb the Earth its size grows and grows to a size which is suggested to be even bigger than the planet. This is a pretty standard way to misinterpret a black hole as it is hard to conceive of something being massive, in this case the mass of the Earth, but not being large. Since Naoko Takeuchi didn’t write the SuperS film, we can’t really expect any consistency here with what we see in the manga.

Sailor Moon enters the Black Dream Hole

I hope you’ve enjoyed this random musing about black holes. Do you think any parallels were actually intended by the author, or am I just grasping at passing similarities?

Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie has the same plot as The Matrix

Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie and The Matrix - Dream coffins are basically The Matrix

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.

The Matrix - Pods of humans

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Children in Dream Coffins

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Marzipan Castle

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Usagi choses reality

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS The Movie and The Matrix - Usagi and Neo escape The Matrix

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - The Sailor Guardians in a simulated reality

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.

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Badiane

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?

Sailor Moon SuperS: The Movie - Agents

Agents Banane, Poupelin and Orangeat?