“Endymion the shepherd,
as his flock he guarded,
She, the Moon, Selene,
saw him, loved him, sought him,
coming down from Heaven
to the glade on Latmus,
kissed him, lay beside him.
Blessed is his fortune.
Evermore he slumbers,
tossing not nor turning,
Endymion the shepherd.”
The poem above is one that gives Prince Endymion of Sailor Moon, or as he’s more commonly known, Mamoru Chiba and his alter ego, Tuxedo Mask, a more passive role than one would expect. Although it is stated that he was, not only a Prince, but the general of all of Earth’s armies at one point in time, he is mainly cast in a supporting role to Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon’s role of the heroine where, typically, a General would be seen as a commander or great warrior. One could argue that he is relegated to a far more feminine or passive assignment, much like his shepherd namesake. For another example of this character type one doesn’t have to look further than Usagi Tsukino’s inner group of friends (and sailor scouts). Ami Mizuno (whose alter ego is Sailor Mercury), like Mamoru, wishes to become a doctor, and is relegated to the supporting role of gathering intelligence as opposed to attacking with force.
Mamoru is also given the power of psychometry; the ability to heal others, read dreams/emotions, and generally be able to “feel” the goings-on of his people by touching the Earth. This also ties in to his wishes to be a doctor, caring for the health of others. Interestingly enough, Takeuchi was quoted as saying that she wanted Tuxedo Mask/Mamoru Chiba to be strong and unshakeable, a bit like Captain Harlock. (Perhaps this is why his character was changed a bit for the anime television series, where he is infinitely more stoic, cold, and occasionally a bit mean.) However, Mamoru can also be seen as an interesting hybrid of removed, stoic masculinity and a romanticized, more feminine, healer in a supporting role.
In both the manga and the anime, Mamoru is shown to know next to nothing about his past, his parents having died in a car accident when he was young. Presumably, this is why he puts people at arms length, unable to trust them until Usagi comes along and breaks down his barriers. This is more of a conflict within the anime, and in the manga he is shown to be far more open and introspective. He also attacks less, and is instead shown to be Usagi’s main means of emotional support (in fact, his name “Mamoru” means “to protect”). In a way, it’s a bit of a take on the role of a champion, with Usagi acting as Mamoru’s champion, and Mamoru inspiring her towards her own goals or future while also enabling her to fight at a more powerful level.
His role is a far cry from being “useless,” however, that’s exactly how he was described to Takeguchi by her own friends when discussing his character. Mamoru has also garnered criticism for being aloof, uptight, and a liability, or obstacle in the way of Usagi gaining true happiness. This could be due to the fact that, returning to their namesakes, Endymion and Serenity, they tried to be together romantically and the Moon Kingdom was destroyed. In the original poem, Serenity watches Endymion from afar, but never engages with him, while in Sailor Moon, they fall in love with each other and it inadvertently brings about the destruction of Serenity’s home.
In the end, Mamoru’s passive role, or uselessness if you see fit to describe his character as such, is a point of note or criticism when discussing his character (and, taking it one step further, also worth noting when discussing Usagi’s character as well) although perhaps his appeal can be explained from this quote by one of my high school friends when we were heatedly discussing who was a better romantic fit for Usagi, Seiya Kou or Mamoru Chiba: “I always loved that Sailor Moon ended up saving Tuxedo Mask instead of the other way around. It made her seem powerful and I really loved that role-reversal.”
It’s no coincidence that Naoko Takeuchi chose the names Endymion and Selenity (Serenity) for her prince and princess, respectively, in her ever-popular manga series, Sailor Moon. An interesting thing of note with the opening poem, and a possible key to Mamoru, is that the role of Endymion is passive: he is beautiful, he is cared for, but ultimately he doesn’t act.