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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • (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.

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?

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  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

22 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?

      • Iirc, Naoko stated that she had originally planned for the shitennou to be in relationships with the senshi, but decided not to go through with it. Now, I don’t have a source for that on-hand, but even if I were to learn that it was just a rumor, I absolutely don’t buy (unless you came up with proof she’d explicitly said otherwise) that those relationships ever existed within the manga canon. One photo where they were posed rather intimately doesn’t in itself prove anything, any more than the “Zoisite and Kunzite sitting” thing does. Furthermore, you can find plenty of art by Naoko where the senshi (not just Haruka and Michiru) are posed together in VERY suggestive positions, eg hands on each others breasts and behinds. While I do personally quite like the potential for interpreting these scenes as indications of romantic attachment, I do not think this is something Naoko was definitely intentionally signalling–perhaps in some cases, like Rei and Minako, but even that I would not consider canon since it has not been officially confirmed. I know you’ve said you don’t consider it canon either, so why say “we know that the Four Kings are supposed to be in relationships with the sailor senshi”? This seems like a double-standard.
        Furthermore, I think it would be very out-of-character for the manga version of Rei, who makes it very clear that she is not interested in men and even categorically dislikes them, to have a relationship with Jadeite, who is not only a man but “a cruel and serious type.” Rei states both that “the current me has no interest in men” but that in her past life she “pledged [her] chastity to Princess Serenity.” Could past Sailor Mars potentially have been in a relationship that was romantic but “chaste” sexually? Perhaps. But it was clear that this scene was about her coming to terms with the fact that she truly did not want men in her life, period: Note that her NIGHTMARE future was one in which she had conformed to peer pressure and married a man like women are “supposed” to do.
        From what I remember, Rei’s lines about disliking and distrusting men were absent in Crystal, so it wasn’t so implausible for that version of Rei to have had a past-life relationship with Jadeite, although it was a great disappointment to me since one of the main thing I’d been looking forward to was seeing manga Rei portrayed faithfully (though at least we have the live-action series).

        • Iirc, Naoko stated that she had originally planned for the shitennou to be in relationships with the senshi, but decided not to go through with it.

          I know the interview you’re referring to, actually! The quote was that she planned for the Senshi and Shitennou to be together, but she didn’t have time to explore that relationship in the manga. She never changed her mind on the subject, just didn’t get to show it to the readers.

          Also, in the Sailor V manga, there are several scenes with Princess Venus together with Kunzite. In fact, it’s a pretty important part of the plot.

  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).

  7. I may be the only one, but I do like them better in the manga. Way before crystal was announced to come, when I first found out Sailor Moon had a manga… I separated it’s anime version (in this case, 90’s sailor moon) from it’s original manga version and have accepted them as such. While these are characters that didn’t shine much, it somehow adds some dimension to Mamoru/Endymion’s past and his side as royal. I do feel however, that they should have been more involved as such. It would have been great to see more of them in flashbacks as either civilians in moder times or back in the day or giving Endymion’s advice in times of crisis while fighting with Sailor Moon.

  8. I have to admit, I’ve never cared for the Shitennou x Senshi situation. I think it’s too “perfect” because now all of the girls have destined lovers with an element of forbidden love to it. Also, I’m a big fan of the of the scene where Rei and Minako swear off romance so they can focus on their duty to protect the princess, so that also makes me not too fond of the Shitennou idea. Also, the existence of Ace as Minako’s star-crossed lover in Codename Sailor V also makes the Shitennou idea weird.

    • Honestly, the Shitennou & Senshi pairing just stuck out like a really lame “tie up loose ends” solution to me. It was more a matter of convenience (“Hey, there are four girls… and four guys… DONE!”) rather than there being any sort of rhyme or reason to the relationships.

      • This times a million. The Shitennou were just wasted in the anime and Crystal, and pairing them up with the senshi was practically an insult, not to mention completely unconvincing. Kunzite and Zoisite were a fantastic couple and it added a lot to their characters. Maybe if they actually had ANY real interaction with Mamoru before their deaths they might’ve been slightly interesting, but Naoko-sensei sucks at making side characters and villains with real personalities, sad to say.

    • I think the same, the Shitennou x Senshi ship was not necessary.

      But is it necessary for the four sailor senshis give up their dreams to protect the princess? Although I have always preferred the rei of anime than the rei of manga.

  9. There was a rumor that the Four Kings may have been reanimated dead rather than reborn humans in the 90s anime, while in the manga, they were reborn as was Queen Beryl.

    Hence the green blood and the different colored whites in the eyes.

    So zombie. Zombie Nephrite is what I’m saying.

  10. The Shitennou got way more personality in the 90s anime but lacked the Endymion backstory, which ironically made their manga counterparts fascinating despite them being treated as little more than monsters of the day. Some of my fanfiction tended to blend the two, keeping the anime personalities as a symptom of them having forgotten their time as Endymion’s guardians. (Though Kunzite and Zoisite still end up together in the Silver Millenium.)

  11. Thank you so much for this article!! I love reading all your essays and thoughts on the Shitennou especially, and the comments section are always enrichening to read!

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