blagi: (Kunzite/Zoisite)
[personal profile] blagi


DISCLAIMER: Yes, the reason for Zoycite's existence is a shitty one to the point where even in the age before callouts and social justice, people recognized it for what it was. She was created so the showrunners wouldn't have to contend with America's homophobia. I'm well aware that she stands for queer erasure. But even in acknowledging this, I still enjoy her character. This essay will sort of explain why.

---

In my younger and more vulnerable years in Sailor Moon fandom, I clung to the belief that Japanese Zoisite and DiC's Zoycite were two different characters simply because I liked them both and hated having to choose. This got me flack from some members of the fandom and even those outside it. At some point I lost my major love for Sailor Moon and shrugged it off, deciding not to try to argue it anymore. But every now and then I'd get into discussions about the character and people would point out that Zoycite was indeed different in personality. "Bombastic", they called her.

Months ago, it was announced that Viz was redubbing the entire anime uncut. American viewers would be exposed to the original, male Zoisite for the first time. Until recently, Hulu had the first 23 episodes available, several of which featured Zoisite in some way or another.

I did a little version comparison, and lo and behold! My belief from 13 years ago seems to be true. Yes, it's the same basic sneaky, vindictive little rat who attacks with flower petals, loves the lead general in the cape, hates Nephrite and is killed by Beryl. But in dubbing Zoisite as a woman, more than his gender was altered.

Zoisite is more subtle and demure than his Americanized counterpart. He's vindictive as hell, yes, but his tone and inflections and the way he carries himself are more...subdued. From Zoisite, you get the impression of a teenage boy who's both vain and insecure; he thinks he's perfect and can do no wrong, but he desperately wants to please Kunzite. He badgers and eventually sabotages Nephrite out of jealousy, afraid that Nephrite's success means Bad Things for him.

Zoycite has a few moments of demure softness, but she's louder in general. She's more unhinged, bombastic, headstrong, less apologetic about questioning or disobeying Beryl. The dub writers obviously tweaked Zoisite's personality because for a female villain, soft and demure didn't work as well to them. It helps that Kirsten Bishop (RIP) seemed to have a lot of fun with the role, too. There's a lot of enthusiasm in Zoycite's tone.

Zoycite's vanity is also a bit downplayed. Zoisite has a fit every time something mars his face, which culminates in him nearly killing Tuxedo Mask for doing so. Makoto punches Zoisite, Zoisite gets angry at his face being marred. Lita punches Zoycite, Zoycite merely says "you're gonna regret that, you don't know who you're dealing with!".

Their dealings with Nephrite are somewhat different. In the episode where Nephrite announces his intention to find the Silver Crystal, Zoisite goes from calm and composed to shrieking at Nephrite when he shows up. In contrast, Zoycite immediately mocks him having the nerve to show up after his most recent failure. "Send me, Neflite is a loser!" she tells the Queen. Zoisite, on the other hand, is too distressed to do anything but protest that finding the Crystal is his job.

Both versions clearly hate the stargazing Shitennou, but Zoycite retains her calm more than her male counterpart. She doesn't lose it until she's alone with Malachite, crying about not getting her chance. Zoisite, on the other hand, is clearly beginning to break despite keeping his composure in the Queen's presence. Zoisite appears to be far more threatened by the thought of Nephrite's success, while Zoycite is more irritated by having to breathe the same air as such a failure and wonders how Beryl keeps putting up with him.

Oddly enough, though, Zoisite only appears to be crying in his first scene with Kunzite. During Zoycite and Malachite's same scene, you can hear her whimpering into his lap. This brings me to my next observations...possibly the one that takes up most of this post, being the shipper I am.

The relationships with Kunzite and Malachite, respectively. Both clearly love their boyfriends, but Zoisite is far more insecure and clingy to Kunzite. There's the Rose Scene in episode 29, but in episode 32 when Kunzite remarks that he can't wait to see Beryl's smiling face when they get the remaining Rainbow Crystals, Zoisite is visibly distressed:

Kunzite: I cannot wait to see Queen Beryl's pleased face.
Zoisite: What?! I'm jealous...

vs

Malachite: We're still a long way from freeing the Negaverse, and a long way from pleasing Queen Beryl.
Zoycite: We must please the queen. (The distressed appearance doesn't change, but in this context it could very well stand for anxiety at pissing Beryl off.)

Big difference.

Compared to Zoisite becoming so submissive around Kunzite, Zoycite is still plenty headstrong around Malachite. Her "go away" towards him in episode 25 is sharp, Malachite likely knows not to get on her bad side. Compare this to Kunzite scolding Zoisite for letting Tuxedo Mask get away. He's quite harsh, Zoisite's feelings are hurt as he points out Kunzite's coldness. Zoisite invests his self-worth in Kunzite's opinion of him, clearly seeing himself as the inferior of the two. In contrast, while Zoycite wants Malachite to be proud of her she doesn't see the need to throw herself at his feet over everything even when he scolds her.

(That's not to say Zoycite lacks her dokidoki moments, though. Episode 19's "Oh, Malachite, you're wonderful", 25's "I'm so lucky" and 29's "Malachite, I'm honored" show a more girly and coquettish side to her that's honestly pretty cute imo.)

In Sailor Venus's debut episode, Zoycite is more shocked that Venus broke the barrier than at Malachite being hurt. She still steps in front of him to protect him, but it's starkly different from Zoisite's immediate distress at seeing Kunzite injured. Is Zoycite just slightly less nurturing to her boyfriend than Zoisite is to his? Too proud to fuss over him in front of the enemy? Maybe a bit of both.

Their final moments with their respective lovers are entirely different. To break it down:

Kunzite apologizes for not being able to convince the Queen to revive Zoisite. Zoisite doesn't mind, he's just happy to die in his lover's arms; his only request is that he die "pretty". Kunzite obliges him, Zoisite thanks him and tells him he loves him. Kunzite begs his forgiveness.

Malachite tearfully apologizes for not teaching Zoycite better, by not stopping her from stabbing Tuxedo Mask. "Queen Beryl should have punished me!". Zoycite counters; he'd warned her and she didn't listen, which she regrets. Her last request is that Malachite not forget her, he assures her he won't. "Goodbye, my love."

The roles in who calls who their love here are quite interestingly flipped. Zoisite's final words are how much he loved Kunzite, who can't say it back. Zoycite, on the other hand, says nothing of love while Malachite refers to her as his. One wonders if this is a coincidence or the dub writers meant for it to be like this.

(Others have said Malachite was quite different from Kunzite in personality, but I never saw that big a difference. They still carried themselves the same way, were still the most powerful of the Shitennou. Perhaps that's something to "study" another time...)

So yes. Same basic character, but starkly different personalities. And frankly, I still adore both versions to pieces for the vindictive little assholes they are and the evil yet cute dynamics they have with their respective lovers.


EDIT: Apparently, the writers of the Mixx tie-in novels agree with me. (Pages 9-12, 72-74) I think it's because in the anime they had to dub over scenes of Zoisite crying and later clinging to Kunzite, but in the novels they had more freedom to make her even meaner and nastier.
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