How Different Were the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom in the Anime and Manga?

You can't deny the Four Kings are cute

You can’t deny the Four Kings are cute

“Is this another topic on the differences between the anime and manga,” I can hear you groaning. But before you give up in search of something else to read, hang in there – how the characters of the Shitennou, the “Four Kings,” differed between the anime and manga, and especially the differences in Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship, is actually pretty interesting!

Or… at least it is to me. Your results may vary.

But in any case, today I’m going to take a look in how the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom changed. Wanna come along?

The Four Kings

The Four Kings

Whenever I hear someone talk about how much they like one of the Four Kings as a character, they’re generally talking about the anime. Even when they think they’re talking about the manga character – for example, in connection to their romantic relationships with the Sailor Soldiers – they typically are still talking about the anime characterization and imposed it on the manga.1

That’s because, frankly, the Four Kings didn’t have much of a role in the manga. So other than the liner notes provided by Ms. Takeuchi in her Materials Collection,2 we really don’t have much to go on with respect to the Four Kings’ personalities until they appear later in the manga in their interactions with Mamoru/Prince Endymion.

Since we’ve got few sources to go on when it comes to the manga, why don’t we take a look at what we know and see how that stacks up with the manga?

One note: the ages in the manga are obviously off for all of them, so I won’t bother mentioning that. Though we don’t actually have ages in the anime, I always felt that the Four Kings were full-blown adults – so in the mid-20s at their youngest – so Kunzite being the oldest at 25 seems on the young side to me.

Let’s not talk about what this says about Nephrite and his Naru relationship.

Jadeite

  • 典型的な美形
    • Your typical pretty boy
  • 推定年齢18歳
    • Around 18 years old
  • 冷酷、まじめタイプ
    • A cruel, serious type

Wow, okay, so… umm… we don’t have a lot to go off of for Jadeite here. Surprisingly, it seems like Ms. Takeuchi just sketched out a few thoughts on his character.

Does this stack up with his anime self?

Does Jadeite look serious to you?

Does Jadeite look serious to you?

Kinda yes, kinda no. Is he cruel and serious? I guess you could say so, especially near the end when he was facing the Sailor Team. His kidnapping of young girls on his Demon Bus™ was also not very nice.

But as far as the anime goes, I always found him as more of a goofy character, especially with how most of his plots involved him working directly with his youma.

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Nephrite

  • 四天王の中では長男(?)タイプ
    • Is like the older brother (?) to the Four Kings
  • やたら威張ってたりして
    • Throws his weight around indiscriminately
  • 推定年齢19歳
    • Around 19 years old
  • 感情的で激しい
    • Incredibly emotional
  • けっこすぐやられたりして…。
    • Quick to get himself into trouble…

First and foremost, there was no Nephrite and Naru relationship in the manga, so I guess the age difference doesn’t come into play at all in the first place. Though even if it did, I suppose it still wouldn’t matter legally.

Just meeting your underage girlfriend alone, in a park, at night, alone. Nothing creepy here.

Just meeting your underage girlfriend alone, in a park, at night, alone. Nothing creepy here.

As for his personality, I think the general information about him being emotional and quick to act is probably pretty spot on with what we see in the anime, though his relationship with the others is a bit off. Like an older brother, with that bizarre antagonistic relationship with Zoisite? I just don’t see it.

Though to be fair, I guess Naoko didn’t see it either, when you consider that she wrote a question mark after it.

Zoisite

  • ジェダイトよりは茶色っぽい金髪
    • Blonde-haired, though with more brown than Jadeite
  • ねこっ毛
    • Soft hair
  • 推定年齢は16~17歳
    • Around 16-17 years old
  • オンナっぽい末っ子タイプ
    • Feminine, acts like the baby of the family
  • クンツアイトの弟的存在
    • Is like a younger brother to Kunzite
  • いやらしいコーゲキ方法を使う
    • Attacks using underhanded methods

None of these characterizations in the manga differ too extremely from what we see in the anime. In fact, it’s pretty spot on. Unfortunately, due to how fast the manga ran and how little “screen time” the villains tended to get, in practicality what we read here is just more of an afterthought rather than information that has any bearing on the story.

Yeah, that looks about right for Zoisite

Yeah, that looks about right for Zoisite

In fact, I find most of the descriptions here actually fit with the anime so well that I wonder if some of these notes about Zoisite (and maybe the others?) were actually written after the fact, or if the anime staff just did a great job of running with these ideas.

What’s different? Well, there is the glaring point that Zoisite is like a younger brother to Kunzite. That kinda stands out. But we’ll talk about that later.

Kunzite

  • (ゾイサイトをかわいがってる)
    • (dotes on/looks after Zoisite)
  • 白髪
    • White-haired
  • 推定年齢25~26歳
    • Around 25 to 26 years old
  • 四天王の中でいちばんエラくてつよい
    • The highest ranking of the Four Kings and the most powerful
  • アラブの王様っぽい
    • Looks like an Arabian king
  • 寡黙で落ち着いてる
    • Relaxed, silent type
  • おこるとコワイ
    • Scary when angered

As for Kunzite’s characterization… hmm, it’s hard to say. From what we see of him in the anime prior to Zoisite’s death, he always came off as a professional soldier to me and generally in control of his emotions, so I’m fine there.

But after Zoisite dies? I feel like Kunzite’s personality changes a bit and he’s in less control of his emotions. Not only did he lose his lover, which is obviously a shock, but he’s now competing with Endymion for attention in the Dark Kingdom.

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Probably most noteworthy here, though, is the phrasing regarding his relationship with Zoisite.

This has been mistranslated on the internet as “Has a romantic relationship with Zoisite,” but the Japanese nuance is nothing like that.

This doesn't bode well...

This doesn’t bode well…

The verb, 可愛がる (kawaigaru; to be fond of),3 does not carry romantic connotations. It’s closer in nuance to your boss looking after you, or a grandparent doting on their grandchild.

With Zoisite acting like the youngest child of the family – and indeed, the youngest of the Four Kings – and like a little brother to Kunzite, the nuance here is that he’s looking after Zoisite like a protective older sibling.

So I think we can say with reasonable confidence that there’s no romantic relationship between the two of them in the manga.

Lastly, while the manga gave off the impression that, much like the Sailor Soldiers, the Four Kings were awakened prior to the start of the Sailor Moon story, in the anime they come off as simply other evil beings that inhabit the Dark Kingdom and there’s no implication that they ever lived normal human lives.

At the end of Nephrite’s arc, when Zoisite is deadset on killing him and sends his youma after Nephrite, we see that Nephrite bleeds green blood.4 This seems to imply that the Four Kings aren’t even human, and are themselves a type of monster.

Alas, we get conflicting information on this. When Mamoru cuts Zoisite’s cheek with a rose, the blood is clearly red.5 So… who knows?

What color do you bleed???

What color do you bleed???

Wow, this article really got away from me. I was hoping to touch on possible inspirations behind Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship in the anime, but I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait for another time.

In the mean time, I’d love to hear what you think about how the Four Kings were written in the manga. Obviously not limited to their appearance in the Dark Kingdom, but later when they came back to help out Endymion. Which version do you like better?


References:

  1. To be fair, Sailor Moon Crystal mucks this up a bit because it gives us yet another valid look at the character, but Crystal is beyond the scope of this blog.
  2.  See pp. 19 and 20 of the Materials Collection
  3.  See 可愛がる
  4.  See episode 24 of the first season
  5.  See episode 34 of the first season

11 thoughts on “How Different Were the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom in the Anime and Manga?

  1. The piping on Nephrite’s uniform is red but he bleeds green blood.

    The piping on Zoisite’s uniform is green but he bleeds red blood.

    COINCIDENCE??????????????????????????? *x-files theme*

  2. Really interesting article, as always!

    I also feel like in anime, Four Kings/Generals were not strongly linked to Prince Endymion/Mamoru and I actually prefer it this way in anime-verse? Because important topic in anime was Mamoru loneliness and I feel like he didn’t have a guards/team was better choise.

    Also, I find it a bit funny that in Naoko’s descriptions Kunzite and Zoisite have brotherly relationship, because in Polish version of Sailor Moon translators altered lines to make it exactly that. It was made a bit poorly and felt more like Zoisite had a crush on Kunzite, but Kunzite treated him like a brother. XD And… I know it’s sad for Zoisite, but I kind of like this idea, in humorous way.

  3. Another thing that I seemed to noticed is that the Shittenou’s body builds are quite different in the anime adaptations as opposed to the manga. They seem more bulkier in the 90’s anime compared to Crystal and the manga.

    • The manga definitely preferred more thing, lithe builds for almost all the characters, so I’m guessing that’s a part of Ms. Takeuchi’s style. You’re definitely right, though, that the anime bulked them up!

  4. Hahaha obviously the anime is better XD And I’m glad you touched on how Kunzite’s personality seems to change after Zoisite’s death… I noticed this as well.

    I think what you mention about some of Takeuchi’s descriptions being written after the fact might very well be the case. She has stated that she wrote one of the manga side stories featuring Zoisite due to his popularity from the anime, so it’s quite possible that the anime also impacted her character commentaries. The quote from the Sailor Moon Wikia is, “According to Naoko Takeuchi, because Zoisite was so popular with fans of the anime she included him in the side-story “Casablanca Memory.””

  5. There’s at least one shot in the manga where Zoisite is sitting next to Kunzite a bit… suggestively? It definitely echoes the interactions between Motoki and “Edo” during the later part of the Dark Kingdom Arc.

    As far as the blood goes… I have a couple of theories. The first being artistic liberties. Since you could argue the Four Kings “sold their souls” to Queen Beryl, it’s very possible their bodies underwent some changes. Nephrite’s green blood could imply that. Another thing is, it could’ve been a form of censorship. I know in Cutie Honey, the enemies and Honey *mostly* had red blood, but from episode 18 on, it became different colors. Honey (an android) was suddenly bleeding light pink. Panther Claw’s agents had blue blood, etc.

    And third — it could’ve just been the decision of the animation director at the time? Maybe Ikuko Itoh thought green blood would be cool, but Kazuko Tadano thought it should be red and realistic?

    • The “Zoisite and Kunzite sitting scene” is definitely one I hear a lot about. =D
      I mean, I guess it could go both ways. It could be suggestive and imply a relationship between the two… but also, it’s just one panel. We also know that (at least as far as one picture by Naoko showed and Crystal reinforced) that the Four Kings are supposed to be in relationships with the Sailor Soldiers, so typically that would cross this off the list. But of course, sexuality isn’t necessarily a binary thing, so we can’t really say much.
      I’m not sure I’m entirely sold on that one sitting scene proving anything, though.

      You’re probably right on the blood. Could have just been a censorship thing, or more likely it was something to do with a difference in art direction.
      Regardless, Nephrite just keeps messing up colors everywhere! (the trim on his uniform is different between the anime and manga, and this whole blood fiasco…)

      • Also, consider the fact Zoisite cross dresses in the manga, twice. Now of course, crossdressing =/= gay, but considering how the franchise has handled other homosexual characters…

        But even if Zoisite is “gay” in the manga, it doesn’t outright imply he’s in a relationship with Kunzite.

        I think I might’ve mentioned this in another comment, but in Bandai’s Majokko Daizenshuu , Zoisite’s biography refers to him as a “homosexual” (ホモセクシャル is the exactly spelling they chose), but not Kunzite. Always thought that was interesting. I guess it’s because Zoisite is the more “stereotypical” gay character?

  6. There might have been another article addressing this by now (I’m still going through the archive), but regarding the Shitennou possibly being normal humans of some sort in the anime continuity prior to the creation of the Dark Kingdom- in episode 44, Endymion tells Princess Serenity that the people of Earth have been brainwashed by Beryl, preying on their jealousy about the longevity of the people of the moon (the only time that seems to be mentioned in the anime).

    When the army in episode 44 invades, the troops have collar designs very similar to Prince Endymion’s, suggesting the troops were from his own kingdom (later revealed to be known as the Golden Kingdom, in episode 165 near the end of SuperS, where we get only a glimpse of some ruins in Elysion when he meets Helios in a dream). The army is being led by the Shitennou, though it’s unclear whether they were already in command of this army beforehand or not.

    There’s also the question of the PC Engine game, which utilized almost the whole main voice cast from season 1 of the anime, a similar art style, and plot points developed off the anime continuity (for example, after being revived by ‘Past Wiseman’, Nephrite flees to Tokyo to find Usagi in a gravely injured state, and Naru recognizes him and takes him to Osa-P to nurse him back to health- though apparently her mom doesn’t know or is fine with this?!). The kurozuishou (Nephrite’s black crystal) is also seen again, as are the DD Girl youmas.

    I’m sure the PC Engine isn’t quite considered canon, but it seems like it falls into that gray area like the theatrical films where it is very clearly *based* on the anime, and could maybe be fit in. And what’s particularly relevant about this to the subject at hand is, they go on to reveal, in their version of the anime continuity, that the Shitennou were Prince Endymion’s guardians, just like the manga. Which suggests, to some extent, that even the anime was intended to include that concept.

    If you haven’t already done articles on them, I’d love any articles about the PC Engine game, or an in-depth analysis of what we learn about Endymion’s kingdom in the anime (especially from episodes 44 and 165).

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