Who Do the Genius Loci Villains in Sailor Moon Work For?

Genius Loci Bonnoun

Genius Loci Bonnoun

“Genius what?! Thor’s brother wasn’t in Sailor Moon!”

If this was your first response upon reading the title, I really don’t blame you. The Genius Loci — not Loki, the aforementioned brother of Marvel‘s Thor — are a small subset of villains in the Sailor Moon universe that frequently end up end up getting overlooked.

Though often clumped together with the Lemures and the Dead Moon for reasons I’ll discuss below, it turns out that we actually know very little about these (mostly…) manga-only enemies, where they come from, and — possibly most importantly — who they work for.

Today we’ll be talking about the peculiar state in which the Genius Loci live, work, and perform evil deeds, and see if maybe we can learn a little more about their role in the Sailor Moon universe while we’re at it. Stick around!

Not exactly the Loci I had in mind...

Not exactly the Loci I had in mind…

For those of you who may not know what we’re even talking about, here’s a brief refresher:

The Genius Loci are monsters that appear in the Sailor Moon side stories that were carried in the Run Run magazine. In order of appearance, they are:1

  • Touhi-chan (Chapter 1: The Melancholy of Mako-chan)
  • Bonnoun (Chapter 2: Ami-chan’s First Love)
  • Ghost Cistern (Chapter 3: Rei’s and Minako’s Girls School Battle)
  • Resin (ChibiUsa Picture Diary 3: Beware of Cavities)
  • Otakura (The Secret Hammer Price Hall)
Touhii-chan

Touhii-chan

Though mostly exclusive to the manga, Bonnoun does actually make an appearance in the animated short, Ami’s First Love. Due to the SuperS connection and the fact that the similar ChibiUsa special changed Lilica Hubert, a flower-eating vampire also from the first ChibiUsa Picture Diary, into a Lemure, it’s not hard to see why the Genius Loci often get through together into the same group.

So if they aren’t Lemures and a part of the Dead Moon Circus, then just who do the Genius Loci work with?

Well, the answer to that question is both interesting and anti-climactic: they work for no one. In fact, they don’t even work together.

A genius loci, according to Roman mythology, is described as “a protective spirit of a place,”2 essentially being a spirit that watched over a specific location (such as a neighborhood or a church) and that would ensure that no harm would come to it or the people that inhabited the land. In the context of Sailor Moon, they were monsters that existed to feed off the energy of humans. So in all actuality, they were completely separate entities from each other, operating independently.

Ghost Cistern

Ghost Cistern

What they do have in common, though, is that they each exist in a specific place and feed off of the energy of those working particularly hard in the area. Such as, you know, young girls studying hard for entrance exams.

Read also:  Guardians? Soldiers? What Are the Sailor Senshi?

While it’s tempting to call them villains, I’m somewhat hesitant to do so. It’s not like they’re actually out there to do evil, per se, but it could be simply that they need to live off of humans’ life force, much like Ail and An.

There isn’t actually a lot to say about the Genius Loci beyond that, but since I’ve already got you’re attention and we’re unlikely to be talking about this unique group of Sailor Moon monsters any time soon, we might as well take a moment to engage in what’s surely one of my favorite pastimes — talking about the meanings behind names!

  • Touhi-chan: Though I can’t say beyond a shadow of a doubt, my best guess is that this name is referring to 逃避 (touhi; escape, evasion, flight).3 While that may sounds like a bizarre and pointless name, the word is commonly used in forms such as 現実逃避 (genjitsu touhi; escapism),4 meaning to throw yourself into something (manga, video games, plants, cooking, fandom, etc.) to run away from your troubles.
  • Bonnoun: This name is a play on the Japanese word 煩悩 (bonnou; worldly desires, evil passions, appetites of the flesh),5 which is actually a pretty fitting name when you consider that the theme of this story is Ami’s first brush with love. Which I guess means that Urawa doesn’t count, as far as the SuperS special is concerned. Poor guy.
  • Ghost Cistern: Considering that this Genius Loci was locked away in a well, I’d say her name is pretty obvious. Darn. However, in light of the fact that this story takes place at Rei’s Christian school, I suspect that part of her name is a play on words, meaning something like “Ghost Sistern.”
  • Resin: Sadly, yet another name that doesn’t really have anything cool behind it. Resin is used in dentistry and since this story revolves around a dentist’s office, well… that’s how you get a name like Resin.
  • Otakura: This is a combination of two Japnaese words — the obvious オタク (otaku; a die-hard fan, nerd)6 and 蔵 (kura; storehouse).7
Say goodbye to your memories, Ami!

Say goodbye to your memories, Ami!

There’s actually a lot more that I’d like to discuss about other Sailor Moon enemies that don’t belong to any specific group, but unfortunately this article has already gone on long enough. The good news, though, is that I now know what I’ll be talking about for my next article, so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long for a follow-up to this!

Read also:  Does Every Object in Space Have a Sailor Senshi?

I find the whole idea of the Genius Loci fascinating, even if they were only really used as convenient, one-shot characters for the Sailor Soldiers to fight against. Though we encounter these five in the series, it’s pretty likely that there are a whole lot more out there — possibly some of which the Sailor Soldiers have already encountered in “off screen” fights. Though it’s something I’ve suspected for a long time, I’d love to see confirmation somewhere if the Sailor Soldiers actually were involved in more battles than what we see in the show/manga.


References:

9 thoughts on “Who Do the Genius Loci Villains in Sailor Moon Work For?

  1. (Whispers bashfully): The nominative plural of “genius” is actually “genii”… Though it’s always interesting to read your articles, I think that some of them (but very few!) have the answers to their questions written in their very title – I mean, no offense, but the answer behind this one and the other about Sailor Sun are pretty obvious to guess. Sorry if that sounded rude, I can’t seem to think of a better way to put it out!

    • Let’s see, a lot to unpack here!
      Regarding the name and the proper term being Genii… that’s a bit of a tough one. Seeing as the full name of the monsters (??) is “Genius Loci,” this means that the plural should actually attach to the full name, i.e., “Genius Locis.” I totally agree that it sounds awful, but it makes sense if you look at it in another way: you would never call a child worker (meaning a person who works with children) a “children worker” when talking about a group of people. They would be “child workers.”

      Regarding articles being obvious, this is actually two issues at play. The first is that often the title of the article is written at the end, meaning that the question is structured around what I answer.
      I agree that a lot of articles are probably simple and obvious to some super hardcore fans. However, there are many fans out there that with various degrees of understanding of the Japanese language, Japanese culture, the anime, manga, and more. So sometimes it’s worth investigating things to try to share more information with fans. ^^

      And, of course, no offense taken!

      • I know this is terribly nerdy, but the term is originally Latin, so:

        From wiktionary: genius loci (plural genii loci or genii locorum)

      • I think I get your point, tough I am afraid to highlight the fact that, whereas “child worker” is an expression formed by two words declined in the same case (nominative singular), “genius loci” is instead formed by a nominative singular formed by its depending genitive singular. If you want a very rough literal translation, then the meaning of the spirits’ name would be “genie of a/the place”, which is pluralized as “genii loci”, that is “genies of a/the place” – there is no need to pluralize the genitive, but if you really, really want to, then the result would be “genii locorum”, or “genies of some/the places”.

        Regarding the other issue, I’ve always been glad of the fact that, in spite of identifying myself as a hardcore fan, I’ve still managed to retrieve plenty of new (to me) information by reading your articles, given how super-hyper insightful they usually tend to be – which is something I just love! * I thought the trend was changing since the very last articles seemed very obvious to me, but I am happy, for example, that 2 out of your 5 favourite pieces of SM trivia were total news for me! 🙂 (Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of the tidbits you post on Tumblr are incredibly interesting)

        * = Which is why I’m absolutely excited to get my hands on your book, but… it looks like I can’t even use Paypal unless I accept the home-banking option? For political reasons, I just can’t spend money via Internet, let alone produce a credit card (which would require me to place my money in a bank instead of the public Posts), so… is there really not a way to purchase through, I don’t know, a post transfer?

  2. Interesting article however I do think that Ryo counts as Ami’s first love. Really it could be argued that the whole thing calling it Ami’s First Love is a misnomer as honestly she seems more obsessed about Mercurius as a rival and how to beat him then anything remotely related to love.

    • Unless Ami’s idea of “love” is a creepy, stalker-like obsession devoted to destroying her opponent, I totally agree that neither the manga nor the special give much of an impression of “love.”

      The “love” problem aside, I guess I can’t complain too much about the title since it’s in line with the manga, and Urawa was an anime-only character.

      • Yeah I agree she more so acted like someone obsessed in taking out their rival with Mercurius not like the tender feelings she showed Ryo.

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