Makoto's strong, independent personality is hinted at in her most striking physical feature—her unusual height. She is stated at her first appearance in the series to be very tall, and considerable notice is taken in the Japanese versions, although this trait is downplayed in English translations (as her relative height is not all that uncommon in the West). She is also physically very strong, and in fact was rumored to have been kicked out of her previous school for fighting. She is introduced to the series after transferring to Azabu Jūban Junior High, where Usagi and Ami are students, and where she stands out all the more because her school uniform is different from everyone else's; unable to find anything in her size, the school's administration tells her to wear her old one. It has a long skirt, which when coupled with her curly hair, was a common visual cue for a tough or delinquent girl at the time the series was created. However, unlike these delinquent girls, her curly hair is natural. Despite her tough appearance, she is very gentle. She always wears pink rose earrings and a sea-green hair tie that decorates her ponytail, even when transformed.
One of the most consistent characters across the many versions of the series, Makoto is always depicted as simultaneously the most masculine and most feminine of the younger Senshi. She is tall, strong, physical, and practices martial arts and other sports, but at the same time is rather busty and an excellent cook and house-cleaner. Her most closely-held dream is to marry young and own a cake and flower shop, and she loves romance novels. Her favorite class is home economics and her least favorite is physics. After entering high school, she also joins the cooking and gardening clubs. She likes all foods, but especially cherry pie, and meatloaf, and her favorite colors are green and pink. She loves horses and hates cheaters.
Her domestic talents are explained as a deliberate effort to overcome her tomboyishness. In the anime, she is given the additional character trait of being highly prone to random crushes. In the live-action series she enjoys shopping, but eschews "girly" things; she cooks, but also physically overpowers bullies; she reorganizes her home, but does so with a sledgehammer. She insists that she is not the least bit feminine, and seems surprised and touched when someone tells her she is.
This dual nature comes from a need to be self-sufficient: in the manga continuity her parents died in a plane crash when she was very young and she has since then looked after herself. She is self-sufficient almost to a fault, and becomes extremely nervous anytime an airplane passes overhead. In the anime, Makoto lives alone, but it is never explicitly stated that her parents are dead — in the English adaptation, she says she cannot take care of a cat because her mother is allergic — and later in the series she is shown boarding an airplane without any mention of fear. In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Makoto's parents' death is told in a flashback in Act 6, but how they died is not mentioned.
Makoto has at least one former boyfriend; the importance of this subplot, as well as her level of obsession with cute men, varies wildly between adaptations. Fans of the anime typically have a perception of Makoto as extremely boy-crazy; a recurring gag is her obsession with people who look like the older classmate (sempai) who once broke her heart (unnamed except in the English dub, where he is called Freddy). In the manga, her "sempai" is mentioned only once or twice, and in the live-action drama is an integral part of why Makoto feels she needs to be alone. In each version, there are mentions of other men who were very briefly a part of her life. Makoto is generally attracted to Motoki Furuhata, especially in the anime, but only in the live-action show do they become close. By the end of the direct-to-DVD Special Act, they are engaged to be married.
One quirk of Makoto's was made famous among English-speaking fans due to the translation of a particular anime scene. The girls are arguing over which of them should play the part of Snow White in a play. In Japanese, Makoto insists that she would be best for the role because she has the largest breasts. In the English adaptation, she still points at her chest, but states instead that she has the most "talent." As a reference to this, anime fans occasionally use the term "talented" as a euphemism for "busty."
Special powers and items Makoto is portrayed as unusually strong for a teenage girl, but like the other Sailor Senshi, she must transform in order to gain access to her celestial powers. She transforms into a Sailor Senshi by raising a special device (pen, bracelet, wand, or crystal) into the air and shouting a special phrase, originally "Jupiter Power, Make-up!" As she becomes more powerful and obtains new transformation devices, this phrase changes to evoke Jupiter Star, Planet, or Crystal Power. In the anime, Sailor Jupiter's transformation sequence evolves slightly over time, whether to update the background images or to accommodate changes to her uniform or a new transformation device, but they all involve electric charges forming an atom path which encircles her body.
In the manga, Sailor Jupiter's first named attack is Flower Hurricane, which is immediately followed by calling down lightning. Emphasis is quickly placed upon her electric-based powers, and these are the norm in all versions of the series. Her primary attack for the first story arc and most of the second is Supreme Thunder, for which she calls down lightning from the sky with a tiny lightning rod that extends from the stone on her tiara (or, in the live-action series, with her leg). Although she channels this power, she is not immune to its effects, and can use her body to focus the electricity in a suicide move. It is upgraded twice for one-off attacks in the anime series: once to Supreme Thunder Dragon, and much later to Super Supreme Thunder.
In the second story arc Sailor Jupiter gains Sparkling Wide Pressure, which, aside from a manga-only power called Coconut Cyclone, remains her primary attack for the rest of the second story arc, all of the third, and much of the fourth. When she takes on her second Senshi form (Super Sailor Jupiter in the anime), she acquires a special item, a wreath of oak leaves, which is described in the manga as "the emblem of thunder and lightning." It appears in her hair and enables her to use Jupiter Oak Evolution.
Sailor Jupiter's earrings, large pink roses, are occasionally significant. She wears them in both her Senshi and civilian forms, and can use them as a projectile weapon if she needs to. When they first meet in the manga, Usagi thinks the roses have a nice fragrance, and late in the anime the sight of them brings her back from temporary memory loss because it reminds her of Tuxedo Mask. Much more important, in the manga, are the Jupiter Crystal and Leaves of Oak. The former is Makoto's Sailor Crystal and the source of all of her power, which becomes especially important in the fifth story arc. In the live-action series, she frequently uses unnamed electric attacks, and is given a tambourine-like weapon (the Sailor Star Tambo) by Artemis. In the final episode, the Tambo transforms into a lance.