everyday girl

Before she was Sailor V and Sailor Venus, Minako was just a typical Japanese school girl. In this section, I explore her identity as Aino Minako in three parts: Aino Minako the girl, Aino Minako the daughter, and Aino Minako the student.

the girl


Aino Minako - an Overview

Aino Minako is a vibrant girl with a cheerful, fun-loving personality. She loves hanging out with friends, playing games, crushing on handsome men and can be a bit of a flirt. Like most teenage girls, Minako loves following and chasing after the hottest idols, stars, and the latest trends and she dreams of becoming an idol herself in the future. Minako can be a bit stubborn and willful as once she decides on something she cannot to be swayed. Strong-willed and tough, Minako is no cry baby and proudly declares that she never cries and she truly rarely does.1 She is extremely competitive and hates losing which can be seen in the sometimes over the top actions/decisions she makes in order to achieve a goal. Once Minako commits herself she always gives it her all even if it means making a spectacle of herself. Minako also has a strong independent streak and prefers to confront her probelms by herself even when she could have asked for some help. She also has a strong sense of justice and isn't afraid to stand up for those who are being bullied.

Minako climbing walls.

The Token Tomboy

Although most fans would name and protray Makoto (Sailor Jupiter) the token tomboy of the Guardian team, I would argue that this title should belong to Aino Minako instead. Makoto is a tomboy on the outside (tall, physically strong, mature face), but a real girly-girl on the inside while Minako is the exact opposite. When one compares the way these two girls act, talk, eat, and the foods and hobbies they enjoy, Minako comes out as the definite tomboy. Like French, the Japanese language differentiates between masculine and feminine forms of speech. Both Minako and Makoto do not talk particularly feminine (epecially when compared to Rei and Usagi), but Minako slangs, swears, and uses masculine words more often than Makoto. In other words, Minako's manner of speech would not be considered particulary refined or feminine and the same could be said of her manners. In Japan, the way Minako acts is not commonly considered acceptable female behavior. Minako scarf downs food, jumps and climbs over school walls, talks and laughs loudly with her mouth wide open, and beats up boys. The hobbies and the foods she enjoys also further reflect her boyish personality. Minako loves sports of any type, particulary volleyball, and also video games. At the time Sailor V was published, such interests (particularly her interest in video games) were considered more masculine hobbies and during her time as Sailor V, she was the only girl who would come and play at the Crown Arcade. Also among the Guardian team, she is the only Minako eating one to join a sports club (Makoto was scouted by many sports clubs, but chooses Gardening in the end). Her favorite foods, Gyoza (fried dumplings), Ramen, and Curry, are the favorites of young Japanese bachelors and the restuarants that specialize in such dishes are usually ones that some girls would be too embarrassed to enter alone. Now compare this with Makoto, she loves to cook, clean, and garden which are all very feminine hobbies. While Minako can't cook, clean, or garden to save her life. Minako also dislikes kids while Makoto adores them. Makoto's favorite foods are meatloaf and cherry pie which are both popular favorites among young Japanese women. Also in the few glimpses we get of Makoto's apartment in the manga, her entire room is full of cute, frilly throw pillows and other cute lacey decorations. While Minako's room in the manga is pretty simple with not much cutesy decorations. Taking all of the above into account, Minako is designed by Takeuchi to be even more of a tomboy than Makoto. As descirbed by Artemis, Minako is both a beauty and a beast who acts more like a boy than a girl.2

Athetic Minako

Her Talents and Hobbies

Even without Sailor powers, Minako is naturally gifted with fast reflexes, agility, and great physical endurance. This is why she excels in all forms of physical activity as she does not tire out easily and apparently can withstand huge amounts of pain (ie. remaining conscious after having her crystal heart taken by Eudial). She also climbs tall objects and jumps over school gates with ease. With such a gift, Minako is a natural when it comes to sports, particulary volleyball, and in the classic anime series, she even has a signature move - a quick somersault dig. She also loves to run and can easily keep up with the boys in her class. As mentioned before, Minako enjoys playing video games and her quick reflexes often means she often gets her name into the game's rankings screen. In fact, her love for video games is the reason why Artemis creates the Sailor V Arcade Game so he could use the game to train her. She loves reading manga and appears to have some talent in drawing as she did work as a copy assistant for famous manga artist, Marie-sensei. Minako also appears to be talented in singing, dancing, and acting and she does pass several idol auditions without any formal training or help.

the daughter

Papa and Mama

The Aino Family

The Aino family fits the mold of a typical Japanese family: a Middle-class family with a company worker father and a stay-at-home mother. Minako is the only child of the Aino family and in terms of family dynamtics, Aino Mama obviously wears the pants in the family and easy-going Aino Papa is often bullied by both his wife and daughter. Minako complains that her dad can never do anything right and his wife complains about his unsuccessful career. Aino Mama's default face seems to be one of anger as she is always scolding or yelling at Minako about her laziness, lack of femininity, and Minako's obvious indifference to her studies. Aino Mama is especially strict when it comes to Getting Scolded Minako's education, saying "If you don't study, you'll be like Papa and not be able to have a successful career."3 Minako doesn't get along with her mother and often complains about her "mean, stupid mama" who doesn't let her have any fun. While Papa is much more lentient with Minako and even helps her install the necessary antenna for a TV show Minako wanted to watch. However, mother and daugther do share one thing common: they both like to keep up with the latest trends. After yelling at Minako to go to her room and study, Aino Mama herself would enjoy the lastest TV show or hottest video game (that Minako wanted to watch/play) in Minako's absence. Aino Mama also appears to be a good cook and Minako especially enjoys the nights when her mother makes Gyoza (fried dumplings) for dinner. Appearance-wise, Aino Mama is pretty with long, brown hair which she ties into a loose ponytail. As for Aino Papa, he looks like the typical Japanese business man with black hair and glasses.

the student

Shiba Koen Middle School

Her Alma Maters

When we are first introduced to Minako, she is a student at Shiba Koen Middle School. Shiba Koen Middle School is a public school and is located in the Minato ward of Tokyo, a well-known and pretty affluent ward where many embassies and big name international corporations are located. Although the school does not actually exist, it is modeled after the public schools in the area. Her school uniform is also modeled after the traditional public school sailor uniforms that Japanese middle schoolers typically wear. It has the long navy pleated skirt, navy sailor collar and cuffs, and a red tie in the front. Like any Japanese student, Minako owns both a summer version and winter version of her uniform Juuban High School and the only difference between the two are the length of the sleeves. While the Shiba Koen Boys' uniform is the traditional black Gakuran. In the summer, the boys are allowed to skip the outer jacket and wear only the white dress shirt underneath with black pants. After passing her High School entrance exams, Minako joins Makoto, Ami and Usagi at Juuban High School a nearby public high school in the same ward. The new Juuban High School uniform is not so much different from her old one. With the only difference being the navy ribbon in the front and double red lines decorating the the navy collar and cuffs. The Juuban High School's male uniform is also the Gakuran, but is now navy blue instead of black.

Minako in class

Hopeless Student & Social Butterfly

Minako is a terrible student and her grades are dismal. Like Usagi, she is not diligent with her studies and often dozes off and eats during class (Minako and Usagi are often "Exam Make-up buddies"). Minako sometimes cheats on her homework as well by using her Sailor V pen which magically writes correct answers. Minako also never wakes up on time in the morning and is always dashing to school and jumping over the school gate in order make it on time. During Middle school, she also went to cram school, but was also never on time or serious about it. The only class she really shines in is P.E. as well as anything relating to athletics. In the classic anime series, Minako was in the Volleyball club in Junior High, but she quits the team after becoming Sailor V. Although later, in both the classic anime and the manga, she later re-joins the Volleyball club once she enters High School. Minako's favorite event of the school year is the Sports Festival as it is the perfect time for her to put her athletic talents to use. Minako easily places first in every event and this makes her popular with her classmates as her wins often carries her class to victory. Minako seems to get along well with her classmates as they all like to talk to her and joke around with her. This is why she is able to convince all her classmates to come with her to pay Otonaru-kun a visit when he got sick.