Just as a word of warning, I’m about to go full on nerd crazy about the Shitennou and what they represent.
My professors would be sad if they knew this is what I use my research and analysis skills for.
Something that I think has bothered some Sailor Moon fans is the…
We have only just met, and already I feel we should be super nonessential research nerds together.
I really like how you tied them to the directions! It fits so perfectly! If anything I might (with my shipper/nerdalert heart) try to swap Jadeite and Nephrite around so Nephrite is Seiryuu the dragon of wood/spring/East and Jadeite is Suzaku the vermilion bird of fire and south.
- In Sailor Moon: Another Story, the senshi visit the old villages that the Shitennou came from back in the Silver Millennium, and while Jadeite was Beryls’ general of the far east, his home was actually South of Kunzite’s, which would swap him around to say that Kunzite was of the East and Jadeite of the South. ((Cardinal King readers, now you know~))
- Now that you’ve made the match towards the celestial guardians, I like Jadeite being south even better because astronomically, Suzaku is associated with the planet Mars. … and… I mean… … squeeee
- Nephrite is in North America, but… if you’re kingdom is centered in Babylonia, then North America is kinda East of you *squints and nods encouragingly* … and that puts him as JUPITER’S THUNDER DRAGON WHAT YES HAHAHAHA.
And if Babylonia is the center point, Kunzite’s connection to Byakko totally works out as being West of the Golden Kingdom if Nephrite is now considered East.
((BTW ‘cause I (literally) can’t resist, astrologically Byakko is the planetary animal of Venus ((I thought represented by Artemis but now I’m just all excited about Kunzite being her personal kitty)) and Genbu is the planetary animal of Mercury ((which I thought was represented with her using the harp/lyre in Mercury Aqua Rhapsody, thus tying Eastern mythology to Western via the story of Mercury and the first Lyre))))
I want to wrap this up with a pretty little bow.
Yes, we shall be silliest pair of research nerds this side of tumblr :)
I’m really interested to hear that the game portrayed where they each came from because I’ve never played it personally. I really do like tying together Nephrite to Jupiter’s dragon and Jadeite to Mars’ fire bird. It’s a pretty neat detail. Those two are definitely the ones that make it hard to say “YES, THIS IS WHAT IT IS.” Kunzite and Zoisite fall into place way easier by comparison.
With all this evidence and counter-evidence though, it’s easy to see why it is the Shitennou seem to change so much from initial design to manga to anime to game to live action. Pretty much everyone is just taking a stab at what they think is going on here. Even Ms. Takeuchi seemed to change her mind about it when she switch around Jadeite’s and Nephrite’s colors.
I have another write-up I’m going to do at some point though concerning their possible element affiliations and what that means for their personalities. It probably won’t be nearly as long, but it’s pretty funny when you throw in what that means for how they’re paired with the Inner Senshi.
There are kanji puns.
Can I take a moment to appreciate all this brilliance going on here plz. And insert my own complicated thoughts on the matter which are by no means nearly as intellectual or well-informed? I wrote on this topic way back when I ran a Shitennou website, but since the site’s not around any more I’ll just have to babble about it here.
Admittedly, much of this depends heavily on my own personal headcanon about the Shitennou, so take that as you will!
Kunzite - Quite simply, as the leader and the most powerful of the Shitennou, it makes sense to me that he would be associated with the North, and with Tamonten, the most powerful of the mythological Shitennou. Genbu and Tamonten are both associated with darkness, and Kunzite in the manga is so in love with darkness that he causes a massive power surge throughout Tokyo just to get rid of all the lights. We can also talk about Kunzite’s icy personality if we want to go for the really obvious.
Zoisite - Now, if anybody is going to be a giant flaming peacock, I can think of nobody more suited than Zoisite. Seriously, a big red flashy bird has Zoisite’s name written allllllllll over it. Apparently the phoenix is often depicted as feminine, as well. We can also talk about how summer is the time for flowers (okay so sakura appear in the spring, it is not a perfect comparison). Apparently, Suzaku can also make small seeds grow into giant trees, so there you go.
Nephrite - In my mind, Nephrite is the big burly tank of the group, making me really like the image of him as Byakko the tiger, who acts as a protector. Apparently he also observes the world with clairvoyance, just as anime Nephrite is a powerful seer and stuff. Even though I don’t put a ton of stock in Naoko’s choice of continents for each of them, he is the only one placed far to the west, so in my mind he is forever linked to the west.
Jadeite - Admittedly, Jadeite’s personality is something so distinctly shaped by fanon that I can’t even justify it canonically. Fandom often portrays Jadeite as the trickster character and a master of illusions, which I think is suited extremely well to a mercurial dragon. Dragons are shape-shifters and can go invisible. And from a Senshi/Shitennou perspective, dragons can control rain, which contrasts with fire nicely.
Just to add to all this.
West is a far more important direction in Buddhism than it is in the Occidental world, being the direction of Enlightenment. (Journey to the West, go figure.) Which is why my headcanon will always equate Kunzite -> West -> White Tiger -> Metal. The Middle East is also west of Japan. (The Southern Hemisphere apparently doesn’t count, since Australia, Africa, South Asia/Malaysia/Indonesia and South America weren’t included.)
So there’s my two cents.