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.

Date: 2014-10-21 07:58 am (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (May / Lee / Marie Kanker)
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
This is such an amazing post. I just did a re-watch of Optimum's dub in 2012 or 2013, I can't remember which. I do remember that Zoycite was perceived as haughty, confident, and sure of herself, and Kirsten Bishop's acting certainly lends aid to that. I just finished watching the first season with my niece, and I saw that Zoisite was a vain, insecure little boy who just wanted to be proved that he's worthy of thinking all the things Kunzite thinks of him.

I don't like the flipped genders or the cousins, but they did some pretty interesting things. Fisheye, for example, is pretty much canonically trans in the unedited Optimum dub of SuperS. She still has a male body, as evidenced in Clothes Call, (The episode with Usui; I can't remember its number at the moment.) but is referred to, constantly, as female, possibly going even so far as to have a "real masculine voice" and has had to practice her female one. Deborah Drakeford, when Fish's bare chest is shown off, goes to a deep, rugged voice, presenting what puberty unfortunately gave her to everyone else in a time of distress--only to "girl it up" for Usui, when he steps back out. It's all so fascinating.

Another thing someone pointed out is that by making Zoycite a woman, it gave some more female villain representation, other than Beryl and the Negaforce.

I wish more people would be willing to talk about the changes DiC and Cloverway told Optimum to make; there are so many fascinating little nuances.

Date: 2014-10-22 03:45 am (UTC)
sarajayechan: Time to rip a rainbow crystal out of your chest (Zoisite)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan
Another Zoisite fan put it this way: "Zoycite comes across as much more confident (as well as bitchy) than the original version. She was not directly assigned the task of finding the Silver Crystal (Ginzuishô), and thus the competition with Neflyte (Nephrite) was highly changed. Rather than an insecure young man attempting to defend himself, we have a rather vicious, competitive young woman who is looking to further her own ambitions." Zoisite lives for Kunzite and no one else, Zoycite just wants to be the most awesome.

Yeah, the dubs came out at a very homophobic time and their means of covering it up were...questionable. (I never saw the Optimum dub, DiC is the one I'm most familiar with and I only saw a little of Cloverway's. But it's interesting how a dub made a feminine male trans...as much as I dislike trans headcanons I can buy trans Fisheye.)

YES, definitely. And it gives an extra layer of possibility to the relationship between Queen and female soldier. I ship it.

The TV dubs were awful, but some of the changes weren't terrible. For example, some comment that "My Only Love" fits the "Usagi discovers she's the Princess" scene better than the original Japanese song, and the dubbers still kept with the moon theme when they renamed her Serena.

Date: 2014-10-22 09:16 am (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (Oerba Yun Fang x Oerba Dia Vanille)
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9CS8ul40bs#t=386 The scene starts around 6:26 and ends around 8:29. It's funny, because they removed one LGBT+ couple (Usui and his "brother.") but added a new one in Fisheye. And it's pretty progressive in that everyone always calls Fish "she" and "her" and "woman."

I love DiC's music, that's for sure. Even She's Got the Power. Also, agreed on everything about Zoycite.

Edit - This episode's either been slightly sped up without pitch correction, or it's just flat-out altered in pitch, because the voices sound higher. Fish isn't that squeaky! But it'll give you a good idea of what Deborah Drakeford did.

Edit 2 - Just noticed this, but--"Optimum" is the name of the voice acting / directing company that both DiC and Cwi used. I think they also were the people who wrote the scripts, which explains the shared scriptwriters for all seasons. (I don't think Cwi could just somehow acquire DiC's writers, at least.) As far as I can tell, DiC and Cwi basically just gave them a "direction" to go. (We're editing out the anime humor for the Western kids; can you give this person an Occidental name?; let's try to write around that; etc.)

I could be wrong, though, but what little evidence I could find on the internet seems to be proving I was right... I'm just going to say DiC / Cwi from now on, though! Seems easier.
Edited (holy potato pancakes i have a lot of shit to say about the '90s eng sailor moon) Date: 2014-10-22 09:37 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-10-22 06:12 pm (UTC)
sarajayechan: we'll get to the bottom of this (Lillibit)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan
...holy shit. HOW DID THIS ONE GET PAST THE CENSORS?! XD Seriously, we have a topless trans girl squealing and prancing about. Just. WOW. also Fisheye is fucking cute even dubbed but maybe it's just the scene

DiC had some nice music. I still have a major soft spot for "Oh Starry Night". :3

OHhhh, okay. XD I had a feeling that was the case.

Date: 2014-10-22 10:40 pm (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (Jill Valentine)
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
They actually did try to edit it on the TV airings and first video tape releases. Emphasis on try, since it's pretty obvious still that Fish has a male body. And when her voice goes low, it just goes low for... no reason in the TV edit.

Someone was kind enough to upload the edited scene. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzJISrmGaAU

It's especially bad at about 0:58 when they didn't crop the camera enough so you can see her chest. And near the end when Fisheye laughs, that was kept. The earlier video I linked was from the unedited / DVD releases. Cwi were pretty good about that, which I'm still happy for.

Edit - I was just reminded, in SuperS' ballet episode, Fisheye goes by the fake name of Fi, which could either be Fi for Fiona or Phoe for Phoebe. This wasn't in the Japanese episode.

And I think the one where Ami has a ladyboner for some guy's music and writes lyrics to it, the little girl gets a name, Victoria, but everyone else keeps their Japanese names on the show. Victoria wasn't named in the Japanese original.

So many fascinating little things DiC and Cwi did. Just, god. I want to discuss it all, but no one cares about DiC or Cwi anymore. Or, those who were hardcore enough just watched fansubs online starting with S and SuperS. I'm like caught between this line where there's the causal crowd, who still think their names are really Serena and Lita, and the hardcore crowd, who revile anything DiC and Cwi did. I am vexed!

Sorry again for the tl;dr. I could talk about this shit for days, though, haha!
Edited Date: 2014-10-22 10:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-10-22 07:13 am (UTC)
thenicochan: {...} from Hanna is Not a Boy's Name (Awesome Linus)
From: [personal profile] thenicochan
Very interesting look at the differences between Zoi/Zoy. As a kid, I loved Zoysite to pieces, and as an adult, I lean closer towards Zoicite...but both are pretty awesome. They are both really petty, but in surprisingly different ways.

I honestly doubt the Dub writers were conscious when they made this distinction, but it exists nonetheless. Zoysite's VA is definitely pure gold, though.

Date: 2014-10-22 09:25 am (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (Oerba Yun Fang x Oerba Dia Vanille)
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
You'd be surprised at what they were conscious of, actually!

That whole change in the beginning episode, where Usagi and Naru are freaking out about precious gems was changed to Serena shitting her pants over... rhinestones, after having gushed about diamonds and rubies when she learned about Mrs. Baker's jewelry sale.

It seems illogical and kind of stupid, but I honestly get it--changes like this are because they know kids are going to imitate what she does. If a little girl walks up to a jewelry store after Serena had screamed about how much she wanted diamonds, the girl might want one too.

But if that girl sees rhinestones and remembers Serena loved rhinestones more than any of the expensive precious gems, she might be more inclined to get that. It depends on how much this theoretical little girl lets herself be influenced by cartoons, though.

They were pretty nuts when they made their changes, but inconsistencies aside, I'm pretty sure they knew what they were doing. It was once Sailor Moon episodes needed to be finished to air once a day, i.e. the Cloverway days, that shit got sloppy... ("I had to read it with my imagination 'cause of all the funny symbols!" What the fuck is even with that? 1,000 years from now, humans will have shed the use for bodies and become giant brains in tubes due to our massive intellect, and no one will still fucking understand how Cwi thought that was a good replacement.)

I do concede the WTFs in the inconsistencies, though. Jupiter Thunder Power! Sparkling Wide Pressure! Jupiter Thunderclap Zap! And multiple other things! DiC was no better sometimes, though. They referred to the Moon Princess as Princess Serena and Princess Serenity in the same conversation once.

This is getting extremely long. Sorry for the tl;dr. Basically, I think more or less, DiC and Cwi knew were doing when they edited stuff, but didn't think of it in relative to the original version.
Edited (edited due to a realization. PLEASE FORGIVE ALL THE "EDITED COMMENT" NOTIFS) Date: 2014-10-22 09:38 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-10-22 06:15 pm (UTC)
sarajayechan: we'll get to the bottom of this (Ami+Luna)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan
Rhinestones? I don't remember that bit, lol. But man, the dubs really wanted to go out of their way to set a proper example for kids. Like, Captain-Planet-style.

(Lexi pointed that bit out to me, with the letter. That's actually pretty racist, the way they removed all Japanese from the dub. Or at least ethnocentric. D: )

Sailor Moon Abridged had a lot of fun with the inconsistencies. Even the villains argued over the name of the Silver Crystal! And "Lori"'s terrible accent being mocked, after seeing the original Hiromi and hearing her voice I can't take that Southern voice seriously.

Also: "Who Is Darien? My Name Is Prince Darien!"

Date: 2014-10-22 10:37 pm (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (Lightning Farron)
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
That was pretty hilarious. I wish they'd kept Serenity and Endymion's names. Cwi didn't really remove all the Japanese from the dub like DiC. Definitely a racist moment that was meant as ethnocentrism. A better line would've been "I couldn't even read her writing!" But for some reason... funny symbols... yeah...

The rhinestones scene in full--

Serena: Can we look for some earrings?

Molly: Good idea! We'd go to my mom's jewelry store! She's got some major cool stuff--I mean, wicked cool!

Serena: I could use some new pink barettes for my hair!

Molly: Oh, she's got all kinds of great things; you gotta see it. It'll blow you away! Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, all kinds of stuff! Even some rhinestones!

Serena: Rhinestones?! I love them!!!

Molly: She's got all kinds of them, in lots of colors!

Serena: Pink?! And purple?!?!

Molly: Oh, loyke foah shoah! Oh, like for sure!

Serena: Alright! What are we waiting for? Let's go!!!

SM Abridged was pretty good in its first season. Then they started season 2 with all kinds of sexual assault jokes... Yay...

Date: 2014-10-24 02:59 am (UTC)
sarajayechan: we'll get to the bottom of this (Sailor Venus)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan
Aah. Lexi told me about the "funny symbols" bit from CWi's era. Was the comment originally Minako not being able to read a certain TYPE of Japanese writing? I know Kanji can be difficult.

...wow. That's, um, special.

I liked the first season better myself. Partially because GENERALS, lol. Though I did like Russian!Alan and Anne in the second one. And "Too drunk x3!" "Ketchup!"

Date: 2014-10-24 10:08 am (UTC)
ethnicroadkill: (Serge / Kid / Magil (Radical Dreamers))
From: [personal profile] ethnicroadkill
I got the lines side-by-side. It wasn't Minako who said it, it was Mako!

English -
Mina: You're totally right, Luna; just look! I read this with my imagination!
[Everyone freaks out.]
Lita: How could you read it? It's nothing but symbols!
Amy: There are a few letters, but they're half-erased.
Artemis: You should try and look in the dictionary.
Raye: Maybe she's too lazy to look up the words.
Luna: I knew she really was Serena...

Japanese -
Minako: I know what you mean, Luna, because this letter has no kanji on it!
[Everyone freaks out.]
Makoto: Oh my god, you're right!
Minako: See?
Ami: There are traces of where she erased the kanji she made mistakes on...
Artemis: Why doesn't she check the dictionary?
Rei: I'm sure it's because it's too tedious.
Luna: She really is Usagi, in a way...

Still extremely stupid. They tried to preserve the "look something was erased" but ending up making it offensive.

The one episode of Abridged that a bunch of YouTubers collaborated on was pretty good, not gonna lie. If they never make another episode of Abridged, it should end there.
Edited Date: 2014-10-24 10:09 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-10-22 01:20 pm (UTC)
sarajayechan: &hearts; <lj user="sfx"> (Tharja)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan
When it comes to ficcing and RPing I lean towards Zoi, but I'll always have a huge appreciation for Zoy. Despite her reasons for existing, she ended up being a neat villain.

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