MMF Sailor Moon Villains

(Hat tip to Animemiz for the topic for today.)

In a later post I’ll be discussing the confusion that sometimes appears in fandom when people discuss plot points or characterizations that are wildly different when seen in the Sailor Moon manga versus the Sailor Moon anime – or even, these days, the Sailor Moon live action series. But I want to talk about the villains separately here, as they get talked about a whole lot, and it’s quite fascinating how differently they’re treated by the various sources.

Naoko Takeuchi’s manga is excellent at giving its main characters well-developed and awesome character arcs. But the villains? Not so much. It’s got a lot to pack into its chapters, and the villains are there to move the plot along to its next point. Not to say there isn’t some thought given to each of them. The Four Generals being Endymion’s old bodyguards from the Silver Millennium was clearly thought out well in advance, and indeed gets brought up long after their deaths in the first arc. As for Super S, I’ll get to that later. But, especially in battle, generally a villain’s job in the manga is to show up, be horrible, threaten a few people, and then get zapped by the senshi (who, unlike the anime, have no issues whatsoever with killing them provided they prove to be monsters and not humans).

The anime had a lot more time to fill in its episodes, and the best way to do it was to flesh out the various villains. And so Nephrite begins to fall for a human, Usagi’s friend Naru, and in the end redeems himself for her even though he dies. (One can argue how acceptable this is, but the anime clearly wants you to feel sorry for him, even if many don’t.) Kunzite and Zoisite are in a relationship (which required the dub to make Zoisite a female, as heaven forbid a kid’s cartoon had suggestions of homosexuality). The Akayashi Sisters in the second arc, who were all complete cannon fodder in the manga, all get ‘redemption’ stories and are purified by Sailor Moon. The same thing happens to the Amazon Trio in the Super S anime – in the manga, they too are killed off. And Professor Tomoe’s story is equally tragic in both versions, but the anime gives him a heart he simply doesn’t have in the manga. It’s not a surprise to see why – Takeuchi made her minions, for the most part, to be funny and entertaining, and the more we see of them the more we got to like them.

(Tomoe’s redemption actually caused a nasty plot hole in the anime that had to be fixed later. This is why Pluto basically shows up at the start of Stars, takes his daughter from him, and proceeds to have her live with the other Outers. Which seems rather cruel of her. No need for this in the manga – he was far more irredeemable, killed off, and Hotaru went to stay with the others out of necessity.)

Of course, not EVERYONE got to enjoy a nice soul-healing redemption. The Witches 5 are just as wacky and fun to watch as prior villains, but they get killed off in ways that range from horrifying to *really* horrifying (hi, Mimete). Likewise, the Sailor Animamates in the final arc got huge expansions of roles (in some cases, they were only in the manga for a brief scene before being offed), but they manage to die all the same. In general, if the anime can manage to save the villain without harming the plot or having it turn too sweet, they might do so. but if the plot is meant to be dark (S, Stars), they’re far less lucky.

Then there’s Super S. The fourth arc in the manga, it’s the one that was changed the most for the anime. The anime, in fact, has a bad reputation, as it upped the cutesy Chibi-Usa scenes and removed the Outer Senshi from the story. It was probably the fluffiest of all the anime seasons. And because of that, it actually manages to redeem TWO sets of villains – not only the Amazon Trio, but also their replacements, the eccentric Amazoness Quartet, who in the anime are purified and become human girls. Now, for once, they Quartet are ALSO saved in the manga… but have a far more interesting role. Sailor Saturn (who, as I noted, was removed from the anime Super S) notices them and begs them to remember who they are. They ignore her, and are (we think) killed by being turned into glass marbles by the main villainess. Saturn grabs these, and once everything is safe and the villain has been vanquished, asks Moon to purify them. She does… and surprise! These four villains are actually SENSHI, Chibi-Usa’s bodyguard team from the future. What’s more, they even show up again in the next arc. This is probably the biggest villain redemption in the series, and it’s surprising that it comes in the manga (though this means it loses some of its impact as the Quartet didn’t appear as much).

This is not to say there aren’t scary and horrible villains. Each arc has its main general below the big bad (the big bad in each arc tends to be a horrible monstrous creature of some sort), and you feel no sympathy at all for them beyond the occasional “My God, What Have I Done?” moment. But in general, for Sailor Moon, it pays to be silly. The sillier the villain, the more likely you are to get out of the series alive. Especially since another of Takeuchi’s favorite techniques is also at play here (you can see it with Jadeite, Prince Diamond, etc.): if you are an asshole, particularly a male one, the heroines will kick your ass from here to Cleveland.

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  1. Yay!!!!!!!!! I promise to get back to you soon with links.. since I am going to go running around trying to finish reading.. and regurging up my thoughts.. about this beloved series. When you mentioned about fanfiction, I have also went back to my own collection of fanfiction. I might end up writing a blog post about it. ^_^ I forgot to ever mention it, but I love how there’s a checkbox to confirm on not being a spammer compared to other places where they ask for a word to type in.

    • I actually don’t mind that you mention about the redemption aspect for some of the villains.. getting to recap about this series with the baddies just reminds me of just how much I can remember of the villains.. vs, my horrible recollection for who’s who’s in other long running series like Bleach, or One Piece at this point.


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