Were the Sailor Senshi Dating Endymion’s Shitennou?

True love at last? Or something else...?

True love at last? Or something else…?

Broken down to its simplest elements, Sailor Moon is the story of a bizarrely talented totally ordinary junior high school girl who is actually the reincarnation of a princess from a long-forgotten space kingdom fighting against the forces of evil in defense of truth and love.

Though this isn’t in itself noteworthy, what is surprising is just how unlucky in love everyone else in the series tends to be. After all, outside of Haruka and Michiru’s relationship, none of the other main cast members are ever really paired off with a romantic partner.1

… except that’s not entirely true.

Today we’re going to talk about the surprisingly controversial relationship between the Sailor Senshi and the Shitennou, from its inception to where it stands in Sailor Moon canon. Whether you love it or hate the pairing, there’s something interesting to learn for everyone!

The Four Kings

The Four Kings

I never fully realized just how strongly fans were divided on the Shitennou x Inner Senshi pairings until Sailor Moon Crystal came out — and I can see why. Suddenly, this little footnote in Sailor Moon lore came out to the forefront, and many fans who were only exposed to the anime or manga translations were now scratching their heads wondering where this whole romantic back story came in.

To some, it was rejection of Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship. To others, it simply felt shoehorned in.

For the first group, it’s worth noting that their relationship was an anime invention and homage to an older series.2 For the second, I don’t entirely disagree, but it’s worth exploring the origins of this pairing.

Bancoran and Kunzite

Bancoran and Kunzite

As mentioned above, one of the most common criticisms I hear of this pairing is that it never existed prior to Sailor Moon Crystal except for one picture that Ms. Takeuchi published in the first Sailor Moon artbook. This is technically correct… and also not. Surprisingly at the same time!

You see, while there were only a sparse few hints at the Shitennou x Senshi pairing in the Sailor Moon manga itself, when taken as a whole, it’s pretty clear that this was Ms. Takeuchi’s intention from the start.

Sailor Moon Artbook Vol I

Sailor Moon Art Book Vol I

First and foremost, of course, is her very own commentary on the aforementioned art book image:3

セーラームーン第一部完結の回の、扉です。一部で、ずいぶん反響がありました。右半分の四組のカップリングがとても意外たっだからでしょう。わたしは、この四組のカップリングで、前世の恋物語を考えていたんです。いつか、かけたらいいなあ。

And for those of you who haven’t spent the past decade of your life learning Japanese:

This was the title page to the final act of Sailor Moon‘s first season. This got a pretty big response from some of the readers, probably because of how surprised they were to see the four couples on the right. You know, I had been thinking about the romantic stories back in these four couples’ past lives. I’d love to write about that someday.

Putting aside for a second that I’m sure there are many of us fans out there that wish Ms. Takeuchi would pick up her pen and write about the tales of the Silver Millennium, I would imagine that this comment alone should be enough to lay to rest the argument that the relationship wasn’t intended to be a part of the manga canon.

To be fair, I think most of us would blush if Kunzite was talking to you

To be fair, I think most of us would blush if Kunzite was talking to you

You could also argue that there was a small hint at the relationship when Princess Venus gets flustered and blushes after an encounter with Kunzite in the past.4

TFW you realize that there's no way you can beat Kunzite for the woman you're pining for

TFW you realize that there’s no way you can beat Kunzite for the woman you’re pining for

The best supporting evidence of a past relationship in the manga canon, however, is actually in Codename: Sailor V:5 Adonis (Danburite), just a tad bitter that his unrequited love with Princess Venus went unnoticed, comments dismissively that she was often falling in love. The accompanying scene shows Sailor Venus and Kunzite gazing into each other’s eyes as Adonis watches on.

Read also:  What is the Story Behind Nephrite's Alter Ego?

That’s gotta hurt. Almost as bad as your sempai turning you away.6

Going beyond the Sailor Venus and Kunzite connections, I’ve seen some people make mention of Jadeite’s reaction when he first encounters Rei and talks about how he was drawn to her from the moment he laid eyes on her.7

And then, of course, there’s also the increased emphasis this pairing has been getting in the more recent post-Bandai SeraMyu musicals.

Nogizaka46's "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical"

Nogizaka46’s “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical”

So with all that said, what do you think about the relationship between the Shitennou and the Sailor Team?

Personally, while I agree that they were probably together in the manga canon back in the Silver Millennium, it’s my personal belief that this is where their relationship ends. While Serenity and Endymion tell the story of a love that spans generations, I think that the rest of the figurative “Moonlight Destiny” for the rest of the Sailor Soldiers lies elsewhere — most likely in the unexplored aftermath after the events of Sailor Stars.

Not only are the Shitennou dead once again after the events of the Dark Kingdom arc, but there’s really nothing to suggest that the there is any sort of continuing connection in this life. Princess Venus may have been in love with Endymion’s guardian Kunzite, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that Minako Aino feels the same way.

At least that’s my take on the situation. Let me know down below what you think about it!

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References:

  1. Unless you count Parallel Sailor Moon, which we don’t. For obvious reasons.
  2. Yes, I’m aware of the scene where it looks like Zoisite is sidling up to Kunzite in the manga. No, that does not make for a relationship.
  3.  See SAILOR MOON ORIGINAL PICTURE COLLECTION VOL. I; liner notes p. 4
  4.  See Act 12, p. 165 of Vol. 3 of the original manga release
  5. See Act 15 of Codename: Sailor V
  6. But at least pretty much every guy looks just like him! Good ol’ Freddy.
  7.  See Act 3, p. 108 of Vol. 1 of the original manga release

11 thoughts on “Were the Sailor Senshi Dating Endymion’s Shitennou?

  1. I completely agree with you ^^ I don’t like these pairings (except for Kunzite x Venus… but the rest seems forced, it is quite unlikely for 4 friends/fellow guardians to fall in love with 4 men connected in the same way) but knowing it was Naoko-sensei’s intention, I can’t disagree with them :p So actually I had the opinion “they were in love in the previous life but that’s it” for quite a long time.

    Bandai musicals had these pairings as well (for example in Ryuusei Densetsu, if I remember correctly)

  2. Personally, I was one of those who hated it in Crystal because of how sloppy it was handled.
    I became so excited when I saw they were not killing off the four kings and assumed they were going to add more depth to them and the story.
    But what a waste.
    It was kind of embarrassing as a fan to watch that mess play out in such a stupid way.
    I didn’t buy the connection at all.

    I guess I prefer it being something that may or may not have happened in the distant past, with the girls not giving it much thought. The idea of being tied romantically to someone because of “destiny” doesn’t appeal to me as much as it did when I was young, so maybe that’s part of it.

  3. I agree, the Senshi and the Shitennou were together… In the past. As for now, the most they’d get would be a quick death from Sailor Venus, and that depends on circumstances as Zoisite can testify.

  4. Yay, a new article! <3 And it's about everyone's favorite can of worms, too.

    While I'm still surprised there wasn't even a single side chapter fully dedicated to the Silver Millennium, I can see why this story never happened. And it has nothing to do with the Shitennou being DEAD (it's a fantasy series, why would this be a long-term problem?), and everything to do with the new arcs focusing on new characters. If anything, the Sailor V finale referencing Minako/Kunzite is a clue that the idea was never fully discarded, since that chapter was published after Sailor Moon ended. There just wasn't enough time to implement it. Then again, I guess SeraMyu contributed to the pairings still being popular.

    However, it bothers me when people ignore any plot points that never made it into the final work because "if the author didn't include this, they probably didn't like that idea in the first place or changed their mind about liking it". You can have a subplot or a character that looks GREAT, and then the story ends up going in a different direction than was originally planned and renders those ideas unusable. With what we know about the early Sailor Moon drafts, that happened a lot. (And this is the main reason why I hate the term "canon". Most of the time, it completely ignores how complex the process of writing actually is.)

    Anyway… yeah, my interpretation was more like this: they were lovers in the past life, and some of them may subconsciously remember some of those feelings, but unlike Usagi and Mamoru they never got a chance to form a connection in the present. Which is the most important part.

  5. This was always super-interesting to me, especially since I first read about the “they were LOVERS in the Moon Kingdom!” thing WAY back in the “Anime Web Turnpike/Sailor Moon Webring” days of the internet. It came off like a “WTF?” thing even back then, and since it almost literally never got mentioned, it was easily to dismiss.

    The issue, of course, being that Ms. Takeuchi had the usual “Well I’d like to explore this, but deadlines, so…” thing, plus a general lack of focus on ANYONE but Usagi & Mamoru, and the fact that she wiped out the four Generals so casually in the manga that literally every other adaptation of her work had to invent personalities wholesale for the baddies (Jadeite becoming sexist and fearful of Beryl, Nephrite being in love with Naru, Zoisite being a conniving up & comer and uke to Kunzite, and Kunzite being the elder lover of Zoisite)… this always feels like an unexplored “Origin Story” that just never got used in ANYTHING, so it always felt tacked-on when emphasized.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have minded it being part of the backstory, and something the girls had to think about and deal with in the show. The show REALLY had issues giving anyone a romantic life, as Takeuchi didn’t deal with that much at all, either (Rei’s minor backstory with her dad’s junior associate; Minako with her “Sailor V” castmates… and that’s about it), so it would have added something, especially as the show had so much filler and could have gotten some mileage out of it. But every time an adaptation focuses on it, it comes off as forced and weird.

  6. I’ve always liked the idea of the inner Senshi and the Shitennou. I always thought it was sad we never got to see the other Senshi, (minus Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask and Neptune/Uranus) fall in love or find their true love. With such a big emphasis on the love between Serenity and Endymion, it felt cruel to kill the Senshi’s former lovers with a blink of the eye. The handling of the Shitennou in Crystal was a disappointment, a false hope after they let them love. I like the SeraMyu version of the arc. They get to fall in love again, and then the Shitennou sacrifice themselves (if I remember right). I would love to see more of the Silver Millennium and who the Senshi fall in love with after Sailor Stars.

  7. I have mixed feelings about these pairings. The idea is kind of cute, but I didn’t like how Crystal handled it. I like them more as individual pairings. I’m not crazy about the idea of each of them being magically paired together, like so many two-piece puzzles. Ami, Rei, Mako, and Minako are four very different girls, so the dynamics between them and their paired King would be different. I’m not even sure I’d want all four pairings to exist within the same continuity. It seems too “picture perfect.” I’m not against all four girls having boyfriends, but all four girls having boyfriends, *and* those boyfriends all happen to be bodyguards to Usagi’s boyriend? That’s stretching my suspension of disbelief a little far.

    That said, I think your analysis of the canon-ness of the pairing to be spot-on. Naoko at least likes the idea, and it’s canon between their past lives in Crystal, whether I like it or not.

  8. Well, considering that in the manga the sailors (except for Ami) wiped out their former lovers, I don’t think there is little chance that there will be any continuation in the present time. (That is if the sailors are allowed lovers at all because the few glimpses in the futures we were shown didn’t show them as happy wives and loving mothers. So I guess their fate is just staying single for their mission.)

    Part of me is kind of sad about it. I liked the cute interactions between Ami and Nephrite and Venus and Zoisite but this relationships were just futile as we are talking young men in their 20’s and 14-year-old middle school girls. A 26yo teacher marrying his 16yo student may be cute in a certain Clamp manga but in real life or even just a life action film it’s not just borderline creepy. There is a reason why they didn’t let Mako start the relationship with Motoki really before she was older. Well at least on screen.

  9. I agree with those who recognize these pairings canon in the past, but a very ambiguous thing in the current timeline. Yes, Naoko is very into things like this, but the circumstances and plot make it doubtful, especially considering that after Mamoru x Usagi it would look like a not very original imitation of the main ship. Honestly, I don’t like the idea that of all the girls, only Usagi “has the right” to love, while the other girls ’love interests are either temporary or jerky, or Naoko generally decides to use them for a message about” romance isn’t the most important thing in life “and give them a celibacy message.

    In any case, for me personally this is not the most important issue in the romantic side of Sailor Moon, since it seems to me that the ambiguous Starlights context or the author’s “obsession” with various ships for ChibiUsa is much more interesting for discussion.

  10. I think we’re all forgetting about the Another Story game here. It’s casually canon (eg it wasn’t produced in a vacuum without Naoko Takeuchi’s input), but uses materials from the Anime and Manga. If you play the game and explore a bit, the towns people make references to all five of the pairings, particularly in the Silver Millennium time period. So I believe the game might have have explored the Shitennou more (Chapter 2 is entirely each inner senshi going off to find the Hi (Light) stone to the dark stones that Mamoru kept) than the Manga and Anime tried to. However it also feels like when you go back in time and re-explore those same towns, content might have been cut, because there is literately nothing to do in any of the towns of the past, and while Venus’s statue with the sword exists in both time periods, the statues of Jadeite and Kunzite only exist in the present. You can meet them in the past at the earth castle, but they don’t really have anything to say. Basically the layout of the towns implies that the temples were there and the townspeople revered the four kings like gods, but only Venus has any character recognize her in the present.

    So of all the relationships in the game, Venus and Kunzite are the only ones that there’s a heavier implied past. When Jupiter goes to the underground city in the present, there’s one image, and you never hear anything about Nephrite in the present, but if you go out of your way to come back there in the past, there is a non-destroyed town with people all talking about Nephrite.

    Though none of that really has to erase the original anime either. Just because they reincarnated, doesn’t mean they all have to have the original relationships re-established. As it is, the Sailor V manga doesn’t really get to explore any relationships, and the game in the “fantasy future”‘s only gives Ami and Makoto boyfriends, while it gives Rei Mamoru, and Minako doesn’t even get the name of the boy she gives a love letter to. Usagi’s fantasy future is just a glimpse of things to come either way. So the only fated relationship is Usagi and Mamoru.

    • Interesting look at the situation! Personally, I wouldn’t consider Another Story to be canon even though Naoko had input in the stories (like the musicals) simply because there’s just no way to make a lot of the scenarios outlined in the game fit into the Sailor Moon universe.

      But if we were to accept it as canon, then that definitely does give us some more insight into the Senshi & Shitennou relationships!

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