4KH! :: Characterisation Essay

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Characterisation in 4KH

First of all, it's undeniable that most of the main characters of Four King Hell! - Mamoru and the eponymous Four Kings - don't have a whole lot of depth in the original media. At the very least, they don't have personalities nearly as fleshed-out as other, more prominent characters (such as the Sailor Soldiers, or a cat). Giving her villains distinct personalities was one of Naoko's few weak points and though they were expanded on somewhat in the Anime, they were, after all, only villains. PGSM expanded vastly on the Kings and their Prince, but their personalities became so different it's difficult to call them the same characters.
Not that this is inherently a bad thing; rather, I've unfortunately chosen to base this fan-comic around a (comparatively) unimportant and minor band of people (it's sad that Mamoru can be classified as a 'minor character', but in the anime, it's basically come to this). Naturally, this means that anyone who chooses to write fanfiction about these characters is going to, at some point, have to actively choose what direction they take the character in - what part of that character's personality to grab onto, stretch out, and embellish. The, err, directions I chose are ones that might seem a bit odd to others, which is why I wanted to write this... essay.

Mamoru Chiba / Tuxedo Mask
Glorified Handbag?

The Mamoru whom most are familiar with - and if you're a fan of his, don't be offended, since clearly I like him too - is a boring flat character who exists only to throw roses and prop up Usagi as she leans in for a kiss. The writers of a kid's show with 10 loud, vibrant, and important main characters are inevitably going to want to make it easier on their elementary-aged target audience by rotating potentially distracting 'superfluous' characters to the background. Mamoru went from appearing in almost every episode in Classic to popping up for a few moments sporadically in SuperS. Some characters, like Naru, never make it back.
In the Manga, however, Mamoru plays a much more active part; and the Dream arc elevating his status to Second Main Character made his sudden and horrifying death in SailorStars all the more tragic. In a convoluted way, Four King Hell! is an attempt to bring back some of that recognition - Mamoru, future King of the Earth, holder of the Golden Crystal and a powerful soldier/lover, is actually shown to be an important character and not a Wallet With Lips. But you probably already picked all that up from the comic; the point of this essay is to tell you why I write him the way I do.
I think 4KH's Mamoru is still very serious, but not because he is naturally solemn; rather because he's a bit of a prude. The inspiration for this is his strict barking when trying to get Usagi (and occasionally others) to study, and being a general thorn in the side of their mischief - but his relative playfulness in other areas. Diana states that both the Queen and King of the 30th century often fake 'sick days' to get out of boring political meetings - he can't be a complete stick-in-the-mud.
The other major inspiration for Mamoru's character is his behaviour whenever he doesn't remember he's got a girlfriend (Classic and half of R). He's playful, sarcastic, a little arrogant, and teases Usagi and her friends mercilessly. This pretty much disappears whenever he starts dating, but I don't think it's completely gone. Surrounded by four young of his closest male friends, submerged once again in the atmosphere of trying to "get the girl!", 4KH! seems, to me, like it would be a walk down memory lane for Mamoru (at least when Usagi's not with him). Teasing, pranking, and scheming to make life harder for his guards seems like a good outlet for all the emotions these four must be striking up in him again. (Especially since he knows they'll give just as good as they get!)

Jadeite
Cute Cute Cute, Fun Fun Fun!

I've read articles, posts and general reflections by others about the 'Happy Jadeite' phenomenon, and why the heck it exists. He's not really any more happy or playful than the other Kings in the Anime or Manga. If anything, Zoisite should be the one written this way. So what gives?
Well, I wasn't aware of the popularity of this characterisation choice for Jadeite before starting 4KH, so I can't speak for everyone; but I can explain at least a little of why I chose to do it this way.
First of all, if I were to write Jadeite as he is in the Anime/Manga, I personally feel as though he'd just be a repeat. There would be too much similarity between the Kings. I mean, basically, Anime!Jadeite is loyal, cunning, masculine and strong - traits which can be applied to Nephrite and Kunzite. That would make three characters with incredibly similar personalities, which is why I sought an alternative.
The reason I picked 'happy joy joy' Jadeite is, honestly, because of PGSM.
Actually, Jadeite's character through most of PGSM is similar to his in the Anime. Occasionally we see him acting 'younger', though this could be because his actor was the youngest of the cast of Kings. It wasn't until the Special Act that we saw any evidence to suggest a more youthful, playful personality (spoilers for those who haven't seen PGSM).
Even then, it was only one little scene. The Special Act features the Four Kings coming back from the dead/rock to serve under Endymion and fight against a horde of clowns. Really. After creaming all the clowns, as they stand around celebrating, Jadeite goes "Yay~!", throws his hands up, and bounces along behind them all.
i know right
It was cute. Adorable, even. And even though it was just that one scene (and he stopped as soon as he saw Nephrite glaring), from this, I (and ostensibly many others before me) have chosen to write Jadeite as a happy-go-lucky, childish eighteen-year-old. And with this baseline for a personality, we can find a little more evidence in the Anime.
I mean, honestly, look at what kind of 'evil plots' he comes up with to beat the Sailor Soldiers. Kidnapping busloads of attractive female students and driving them away to his alternate dimension, only to leave them lying around pointlessly? Being the stylish + handsome manager of a popular young idol? His stubborn attitude towards a smitten Tetis, relenting only when he realises it involves him being the captain of a huge-ass ship? Sending two Beoings after three fourteen-year-old schoolgirls (and a cat)?

"Oh man this is going to be so awesome! YEAH! Look at me being awesome! VRRROOMMMM. Hahaha. I'm so much cooler than Nephrite." - Jadeite's possible thought process.

The way he reacts to Beryl is another clue. Sure, he gets scared, as he should be - ignoring the fact she could kill him if he so much as looked at her funny, she's pretty scary-looking. It's his reactions that tell me he's still a childish little boy inside. The way he defensively reaches a hand to his face, the bowing of the head in shame, show that he's not just afraid for his life, he's ashamed at being called out by an adult.

Something else relevant to all of the Kings (with the possible exception of Nephrite) is that we don't know how much of their personality is really 'them', and how much is corruption from Metaria/Chaos. How much of a character's behaviour can we 'purify' before they cease to be the same character? For Jadeite, I imagine that post-purification, he'd be a generally sweet eighteen-year-old guy. Still prone to the stupid and occasionally dick-ish things that they are wont to do, but nothing malicious or cruel.
And that's Jadeite.

Nephrite
WANT TALENT LADY

Unwittingly my first representations of Nephrite's character devolved him from a charming, sophisticated ladies' man to a bumbling barely-coherent caveman. This wasn't my intention (to be honest, my first intentions were 'BE FUNNY AND DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES!'). This is possibly why I get the most comments about Nephrite's personality being different to what they had expected, or any other version they've seen before (which fills me simultaneously with pride and dread). Like Jadeite, I borrowed Nephrite's personality from PGSM, but unlike Jadeite he was already a lot like that in the Anime anyway. If you haven't seen PGSM, then in it, Nephrite can be summed up by pretty much one word � angry. He's just an angry little fucker. He reacts to everything with anger, and not the snarky somewhat-drunk anger from the Anime � pure unnecessary 'mad dog' anger. Bugging eyes, twitching upper lip, the whole deal. He. Was. Angry. And it worked.
Like in the Anime, PGSM Nephrite also became 'healed', although he didn't die shortly afterwards. He also went through some changes because of a girl he liked � in the Anime, this was the ill-fated Naru, and in PGSM (believe it or not) it was Ami (and perhaps originally her 'Evil Willow' persona, Dark Sailor Mercury [or 'Darkury' as the cast and fans had started calling her]). Here, we got to see that he wasn't just a shallow angry bitch. He was socially retarded as well. As expected this mainly manifested itself in unruly anger and a total failure to understand how other human beings felt, thought and acted (particularly women). His idea of a good present for Ami was a life-size pair of ox horns he found at a street vendor. This is the personification of a little boy who buys an action figure for a girl he likes because he likes the action figure and thinks, hey, she will too. PGSM Nephrite is an autistic seven-year-old in a hot man's body. I took these two aspects from PGSM, toned them down, and applied them to Nephrite's cynical anti-authority Anime persona for his appearances in 4KH.
I think Nephrite's the kind to say what he's thinking, consequence and suitability be damned. If he thinks a girl is hot � he will announce that he thinks the girl is hot. If he thinks it's pitiful of Mamoru not to have had sex yet, he'll announce that too. What you see with Nephrite is, for the most part, what you get.
... Right?
Nephrite's not stupid. I think he has the outward appearance of one of those types, but a much more acute control over what he says and how. Maybe he just doesn't care what other people think about him and decides it doesn't matter if he blurts out rude things to a room full of people. Anime Nephrite hardly seems the kind to care about that sort of thing. Maybe beneath the prickly, abrasive exterior is a calculating young man who is very picky about when he acts social.
You'd better believe he don't know how to talk to women, though.
I mean, impressionable fourteen-year-old girls who are already head-over-heels in love with him are one thing. He pretty much could have said to Naru �I am the Demi-God Klarkentistan. I gain my powers from your nudity. Remove clothing.� and she probably would have said �Like, ok! Want my virginity while I'm at it, Sanjouin Klarkentistan-san?�. An older, wiser, more experienced and more level-headed young woman like Jupiter? Yeah, she's gonna notice when he says something creepy like �Meet me in the park two blocks over at midnight and steal shit for me�. You could say that Nephrite has a monumental handicap, or you could say that he just has a lot to learn.

As far as how much of Nephrite is retained after purification, in my opinion, all of him is. I don't think there's a single aspect to Nephrite that wasn't there before he was evil.

Zoisite
oh boy

Ahh... Zoisite. People have told me my 'version' of him is influenced by PGSM, other fanfics, and the DiC Dub. Actually, Zoisite's personality in 4KH isn't supplemented by his PGSM personality, both because his PGSM personality is so different to his other personality and because I feel that his already-existing Anime personality is varied enough to make for a well-rounded character.
It should be fairly obvious to many that Zoisite's personality in 4KH is lifted and exaggerated from the Anime, where he was a slight, effeminate, sassy little gay boy. I also made him probably a dab bitchier than the original Anime dictated, which is most likely influenced from my childhood of the DiC Dub. Other than that, I pretty much just grabbed what was already there and stretched.
A minor deviation is his sexuality. In the Anime I'd bet my last dollar that he was purely homosexual. In 4KH, he's very loosely bisexual (another combination of his Anime/Manga personalities) with a leaning towards men. Which gives Ami a slim hope. Another (larger this time) deviation is the level of his femininity. I'll be honest � he's not THAT girly in the Anime. Sure, he obsesses over his physical appearance, freaks when Kunzite compliments a woman, and spent an episode disguised as a very convincing female 14-year-old Sailor Moon. And yet, I still managed to fem him up. I don't know how.
What'd I do, stick a vag on him? I'm sorry.
My only excuse is that, like Nephrite's unfortunate first impression, I don't intend for Zoisite to stay as girly as he appears right now. It's a phase he's going through. A lot of circumstances where he would choose to purposely act more feminine than normal have occurred in a row. We can see him starting to man up slightly when he meets Ami, and this is a trend I hope to continue throughout 4KH. I really don't mean for him to be a total Bridget.

Like Nephrite, I think that much of Zoisite's personality remained intact after he was 'turned evil', and as such he would stay the same after being purified � perhaps with a little less malice and a little more mischief, and a little less vanity with a bit more self-confidence.

Kunzite
The Last Samurai

Kunzite... I'm not sure what to say about Kunzite. He is cool, calm, calculating, and (as we see so often with his attacks on the Soldiers and his rival with evil-Endymion) fazed by almost nothing. He is a strong and competent with an emotional bond not only between himself and his prince, but between himself and the other Kings. He's a leader and a protector, both someone they can turn to and someone they can learn from. He's pretty much the Daddy.
He is highly intelligent with the ability to strategise, theorise, rationalise and aerobicise with the best of them. His schemes in the Dark Kingdom expressed the most cold, rational logic of all the Kings, and he seemed to take particular joy in knowing how much mayhem he could cause (in particular the episode where the Soldiers try and trick the Dark Kingdom into thinking Usagi wants to quit being a part of the Sailor Team). And I don't think that was a purely 'evil' invention.
I also think that Kunzite is highly competitive (if his behaviour towards evil-Endymion is anything to go by), though perhaps not on the same level as Jadeite (who is fueled by teenage hormones) or Nephrite (who is fueled by pride). If he were to lose, I don't think he'd take it as hard. But I think he would feel better than anyone else if he were to win.
Another part of Kunzite, which is just now starting to show in 4KH, is his prudishness. On my behalf, this is probably from noticing how cold and distant he often is, and imagining that it wouldn't be a stretch to apply that to the bedroom (or how often he ignores Zoisite when the two of them are in public, though that could have been shame or even Evil Professionalism on his part). There's a little evidence of this in the IC-LiveJournal, where Kunzite often reacts with spluttering surprise and embarrassment upon particularly explicit mentions of sex or other promiscuous details. This will work its way into the rest of 4KH soon enough.

As for how much of Kunzite's personality is retained from the Dark Kingdom, again, I'd say a lot of it, though this time I think he has a stronger moral obligation and (of course) realigned powerful loyalty. I feel as though he'd use his cold strategising powers 'when he needed to' instead of 'just because he can'.

Usagi Tsukino / Sailor Moon
Is there really a rabbit on the moon~?

Unlike perhaps some of the other Soldiers, Usagi hasn't really appeared much in 4KH yet, so there's not a whole lot of her personality to report on (emhpasising the fact that this is a fancomic focusing on some more under-appreciated Sailor Moon characters). When she does appear, though, I'll be following pretty strictly along her Anime personality � kind, sweet, loving, clumsy, ditzy, somewhat irritating, and (as is probably mos prominent in 4KH) very naïve. I mean, she honestly thought that there was a rabbit on the moon. And judging by her reaction to Seiijurou having a public 'crush' on her and to finding out that Chibi-Usa was her daughter, her knowledge of sex is... existent, but not something she'd like to think about.
I mean, just look back on that StarS episode where she meets Haruka + Michiru as she waits for Seiya in the park.
�I want you to touch me gently...�
�Maybe later.� Is Usagi's reaction really that of one who is totally confident in her knowledge of sex, or one of someone who doesn't quite understand what they were talking about and chalks it up to an adult romance?

Ami Mizuno / Sailor Mercury
Little Brown Mouse or Ice Maiden?

For the most part, I believe that Ami is a polite, kind, shy and intelligent young girl who enjoys reading, studying, furthering her education + computers, and would 'chicken out' before saying anything rude to another person (like in the R episode where Esmeraude's Droid brainwashes the students at Ami's cram school into thinking she cheated on her exams � despite the fact that it obviously had a huge effect on her, she didn't have the courage to say anything to them about it).
For the most part.
One thing that you need to understand is that 4KH's main theme (besides, hopefully, humour) is sex. It's handled in a joking, comedic way and so far nobody's got any, but the point is that it's still dealing with a topic the original series never touched (well, unless you [like myself] believe that Usagi and Mamoru were sleeping together in the manga, which is something I chose to overlook for the purposes of 4KH's storyline). So we've never really been shown how a character would react to this sort of topic, and we have to invent their reaction ourselves based on their personality.
From Ami's base personality we would deduce that she would be very shy with the topic of sex, prefer not to talk about it, and would be generally embarrassed and overwhelmed by Zoisite's flamboyant in-your-face personality.
Have you seen 'Ami-chan no Hatsukoi', or 'Ami's First Love'?
It deals, surprisingly, with Ami's first love, or a 'crush' she gets on a mysterious boy about whom she knows only two things; he is called 'Mercurius', and he's tied with her consistently in first place for every mock exam she's applied for (and she's applied for all of them).
And it drives her nuts.
What we witness in Ami-chan no Hatsukoi is the total batshit behaviour Ami goes through when she is confronted with someone she has both animosity towards and romantic feelings for; someone she simultaneously wants to beat the snot out of and have a relationship with. I personally believe that this is the only way for Ami; the only way she could stay interested in a man would be if he were her intellectual equal, and if he were her intellectual equal she would pretty quickly see him as her rival. Add to that the fact that Zoisite is, in general, a big fat man-bitch, and Ami's got her 'Hatsukoi' switch flicked on whenever she's around him.
When she's not around him and has the chance to cool down a little bit, I think she'd return to her original behaviour (perhaps 'freaking' again a little if she were to think of something particularly irritating that he had said or done) and � yes! - even being embarrassed by her own outburst(s). Would that stop it from happening again the next time she met him? No, not at all.
As for Ami's knowledge of sex, I think it's pretty thorough. She's shy, not naïve, like Usagi, and I think it's much more likely that she's too embarrassed to talk about it out loud to anyone rather than she's never thought about it. I mean, she reads pervy romance novels in her bathtub. She's halfway there at least.

Rei Hino / Sailor Mars
A Real Red-Hot Babe (I MAKE NO EXCUSES FOR MY PUNS)

Rei's 4KH personality I take more from the Manga than the Anime, which in turn I chose probably in order to offer more conflict for Jadeite's character. Anime Rei is actually just as boy-crazy as some of the other girls, and I had decided that it would be interesting to see how Jadeite would go about wooing a girl who hated men, so it was the Manga route I took. Also, a part of me just prefers Rei's Manga/PGSM personality. While I like Anime!Rei too, with all her confidence and bitching (which will probably make an appearance in 4KH too), the graceful and serene image of Rei the Chaste Priestess left a more prominent image in my mind.
That being said, I somehow combined that personality with Rei's dating history, including Mamoru, Haruka, and any one of the boys she found attractive and subsequently tried to date off-camera. There is a quote in the Manga that reads something like this - �If I had a boyfriend, it'd only be to boss them around�, and I take that to heart. Normally I ship Yuuichirou and Rei (the guy's worked so damn hard, he deserves a little break) but for the purposes of 4KH decided to ditch their relationship... but not him, which I thought would add another layer to Jadeite's frustration.
Another reason I chose Rei's Manga personality is because there's a lot of 'hinting' in the Manga that Jadeite + Rei were, once, an item. Jadeite says that he has been 'mesmerised by her beauty since he first saw her', and in the (beautiful) Manga story 'Casablanca Memories' she had a flashback that superimposed the image of her first and only lover Kaidou over an image of Jadeite, highlighting their similarities, implying (along with Zoisite stating that she 'cannot escape her past') that she fell so deeply in love with Kaidou because he reminded her of Jadeite, whom she knew in a past life. However, Zoisite then says that he had been trying to get revenge on her for her killing Jadeite, further implying that he had been lying the whole time and that Rei + Jadeite didn't know each other at all in the Silver Millennium.
In short, Rei's personality is a straight-forward mix of the whole Manga's Rei, and the Anime's Rei from the first half of the first season. I don't really think I've taken any huge deviations in her characterisation, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure Rei knows a lot about sex, lol.

Makoto Kino / Sailor Jupiter
Housewife of the Amazon

Many people accuse Makoto of not having much characterisation, so I guess it helps that she's my favourite character (alongside Haruka) so I've been milking any that I could find for a while now.
I guess I pick what I like best about Makoto's personality from the Anime, Manga + Live Action and fuse them into one. While still somewhat of a delinquent in the Manga, she was never as 'tough' (or 'cool', teehee) as in the Anime and PGSM, where her superhuman strength and nifty karate skills came into play much more often (Makoto's impressive strength has already come into play in 4KH, along with the toughness that goes with it). But I also like Makoto's delicate softness and femininity evident a little in the Anime but much more so in the Manga, with her delicately decorated apartment, dainty meals and modest but attractive upkeep of her appearance. I think her internal struggle of feeling too 'masculine' and trying to balance it out by purposely taking up traditionally 'feminine' activities such as cleaning, cooking and sewing is very interesting, as is the idea that she potentially possesses the best � and worst � attributes of a traditional 'wife' out of all the Shitennou. Half of her is Nephrite's ideal woman � the stay-at-home little lady that loves to cook and pamper her husband � and half is a pure nightmare, a strong-willed and strong-armed bokukko who takes offense that he points out that the first half of her exists. Oh, and I'm sure her tits come into there somewhere.
A big part of 4KH is about love and sex, and I think a big part of Makoto's character is � believe it or not � also about love and sex. She was obviously traumatised by a messy breakup with her (possibly first) 'true love' and if it weren't for her friendship with Usagi she'd probably still be all alone pining about him. I think that she'd become guarded around other males and the topic of sex in general (I find it hard to believe it didn't come into her previous relationship) and try to compensate by being the one to make the 'first move' on any guy that she likes, and loudly ascertaining her attraction to him to her friends, as though to prove that this is what she wants and that she's in control. Conversely I think that if another male were to be the one to make the 'first move' she would feel on-edge and nervous and possibly react badly (I guess anyone would react badly to someone sneaking into their house through a third-story window, though).
Also, I guess she just does that 'cause she's a flaky hopeless romantic.

Minako Aino / Sailor V(enus)
Crazy Ribbon Lady

I love Minako. I gotta be honest. And because of the Codename: Sailor V manga, she's probably got the most characterisation besides Usagi and perhaps Chibi-Usa. At first it's easy to write her off as being a clone of Usagi and/or being an unoriginal uninspired character, but aside from the fact that technically Usagi is the clone of her, I don't think it's true. I think that Minako and Usagi have vastly different personalities that connect on a few points out of hundreds.
First, while Usagi is clumsy, ditzy and generally naïve, Minako is hyperactive and sporadic in her thoughts and behaviours. She's not stupid or slow, but rather suffers from not thinking before she speaks (and not listening, either, judging from how many common sayings she gets wrong). She's a fun, crazy little lady who has about a million times more nut-bar schemes than Usagi, and the miraculous store of energy to see them through. Like Usagi, she just wants to help people, and like Usagi, she often messes it up with her eagerness and ditzitude.
However, unlike Usagi, I think Minako is frankly more selfish (it's part of her charm!). She's pretty likely to take advantage of anyone she can (Amano, for one) in order to get her free stuff, boost her ego, give her a free ride, etc. And she's also likely to 'overlook' a character's misdeeds and flaws if it suits her (in this case, going out with a hot guy is good, even if that guy used to be a villain).
As you can see, most of Minako's personality I take from the Anime, but part of me thinks that she can't be purely as stupid and careless as she appears to others. A lot of it, I reason, has to be a front. She didn't deal very well with Kaitou Ace's fortune of a doomed life of singledom very well, and it was a long time before she totally accepted her fate as a Sailor Soldier, that she could never be just an 'ordinary girl' like she wanted. Some personal growth has to come from that, and so from the Manga I take some clues of her natural leadership abilities and slowly maturing psyche and the technical fact that she is the leader of the Inner Soldiers after Moon. Just because she doesn't flaunt it doesn't mean she doesn't have it when she needs it.
As for sex, boy howdy you better believe Minako's 'in' on it. Minako's so far 'in' that she's become a total pervert. She's the only one in the entire series to ever get a 'blood nose' from physical attraction to someone, which ought to tell you something (well, not counting Mamoru in the Manga, which... tells you something else). She asks Taiki out on a date to go see an X-rated movie. She seems pretty intent on dating and pretty knowledgeable about the whole thing in general, but I don't know if she'd actually have the courage to do anything more than heavy petting. Or rather, I'm not sure if she'd have the maturity, or if she'd just freak out and run off when it got too heavy.
For justice.

The end... until MORE people show up. WHICH IS ANY DAY NOW