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 [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?

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PostSubject: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   24th November 2017, 4:59 pm


Original Thread: X

It's that time again--Greatest Hits time! This debate was one of the earliest posted on the forum, way back in 2011, so it's safe to say that the vast majority were not able to participate (except for our lovely Luna, of course, who originally posted this thread!). I brought this thread back because I think that almost everyone has an opinion on this, since it can be applied to basically every form of Sailor Moon, so it is definitely worth a revisit.

So, here it is: do you think the pairings between the Inner Senshi and the Shitennou (Mercury x Zoisite, Rei x Jadeite, Jupiter x Nephrite, and Venus x Kunzite) are canon or just fanon? Most of the debate around this was created because of this well-known image drawn by Naoko Takeuchi herself that shows the respective pairings--according to WikiMoon, Naoko Takeuchi said of the drawing: "This is the title page for the conclusion of the first series of Sailor Moon. It had a great deal of impact on the first series. Probably because the four couplings on the right side were very unexpected. I was thinking of love stories of the previous lives of these couples. I'd like to be able to draw that someday..." Some argue that this drawing by Naoko and her comments about it justify it being canon, since it came from the author herself, while others argue that the lack of support for the relationships in the Sailor Moon media says otherwise.

Personally, I think that the Senshi x Shitennou pairings are not completely canon or fanon, but it depending on which version of Sailor Moon you consider, in some versions the pairings are more canon than others. In the manga, for example, even though the manga is the source of the image I mentioned earlier, any actual characterization of the pairings is lacking. However, in the musicals, the pairings are much more prevalent--in La Reconquista, there are multiple character interactions between the Shitennou and the Senshi in which they flirt with each other, and Mercury and Zoisite even sing a duet called "Memory Duo" in which they talk about their hidden feelings for each other that they don't quite understand.

What do you guys think? I would especially like to hear the opinion of someone that can provide the perspective of the anime, since I don't know enough about it to really talk about the subject. Happy debating!

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   25th November 2017, 10:28 am

Honestly, I think it all depends on the version. In the manga it's hinted at, but never actually said. In the anime it's pretty likely that it never happened. In Crystal it's canon. I guess that means in some versions it's canon, and in others it's fanon. It's all based on how you see it.

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   25th November 2017, 2:00 pm

@usagi-serenity wrote:
I guess that means in some versions it's canon, and in others it's fanon. It's all based on how you see it.

I agree, I think this is a nice summary of it! I forgot to mention Crystal--I've only seen a few episodes, but I do know that the relationships between the couples were treated as canon in that version.

This leads me to a question that I think would fit well with this debate: in addition to whether you think that the pairings are canon or fanon, which do you think that they should be? In other words, do you personally ship these pairings or do you think that they just wouldn't work out? I think this might be interesting because even if someone thinks that Senshi x Shitennou is only fanon, they still might think the characters would go well together, and vice versa.

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   25th November 2017, 5:23 pm

I also believe it depends on the canon you are working with. IMO, both the musicales and Crystal making it canon it's a means of pandering to the base. The pairings themselves are a contradiction of both the manga and the original anime canon, which both stated that Earth and Moon were isolated, and kind of rob the Serenity/Endymion pairing of its in-universe relevance, beauty and uniqueness

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   25th November 2017, 9:17 pm

See, that's a tricky one. Growing up with the 90s DiC dub you kinda develop personal opinions about the franchise as a whole for no good reason.
I personally find the idea of the Senshi x Shitennou ship intriguing, mixing in a love story for the past lives of the eventual good guys and bad guys is a unique devise in storytelling - I've never really seen that before - but I am against it myself. It has nothing to do with the people themselves so much as the personalities in which they had at the time; the four Kings of Heaven essentially lived in a very aggressive part of the universe where negative traits like jealousy, deception and hatred thrived Therefore the kings were similarly developed, Jadeite especially so. It therefore seems unusual to me to have these men suddenly gain deep emotional affection A) at all and B) especially towards their sworn enemies.
But to each their own. :3 It's fine to like them.

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   26th November 2017, 7:40 am

Personally, I like the idea of SenshixShitennou in the Silver Millennium. It just makes sense. However, I'm not the biggest fan of having it carry over to their present lives. It's easy to believe that Usagi and Mamoru's feelings could carry over into their reincarnations, but all of them? It would just feel very forced. (Then again, I might just think this because I want Reinako  )

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   15th December 2017, 5:50 pm

It's funny... As much as Shittenou x Senshi are among my favourite guilty pleasures subjects for fanfic reading, I actually don't like to view the pairings as truly "canon" even though it's clear that Naoko did want them to be from the famous artbook image. Her notes as translated by Kurozuki are:

Quote :
This is the title page for the conclusion of the first series of Sailor Moon. It had a great deal of impact on the first series. Probably because the four couplings on the right side were very unexpected. I was thinking of love stories of the previous lives of these couples. I’d like to be able to draw that someday…

Obviously this came through in Crystal, but I don't like how they did it - it felt so rushed!  
And really, all it seemed to be was simply an animated version of that artbook image: shallow, albeit beautiful.

To me, the fact that in the end she left out anything but hints in the manga as to their attraction for each other (and even then, mostly just for Kunz x Venus), I get the feeling that she liked the *idea* but that it just wasn't strong enough to come forward beyond that from her mind. So, sure it's "canon" in that it's been hinted at firmly and presented as lore in Crystal, but the lack of development makes it a really weak concept and therefore open to debate as to whether (when thought through) it would actually make sense in-universe.

I'll have to watch the musicals to see if someone else managed to make it more compelling though of course XD. I really need to stop saying "I need to watch Myu..."

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   8th January 2018, 4:14 pm

While it is something that differs from version to version, in general I don't think there is enough for them to count as canon. Even in those versions where there are hints at things in the past life, after the first arc, these relationships are largely ignored and have little impact on how the girls approach romance. Because of this, even if there were something between them in a past life (which I prefer if there weren't, because it seems forced, and as Triton said, takes away from the unique nature of Serenity & Endymion's relationship), it doesn't really matter. It's like Mamoru and Hina in PGSM, just because they were dating at some point, I wouldn't qualify them as canon?

Also, I love the musicals and a lot of times I find the SenshixShitennou pairings in them to be entertaining, but I think it in no way indicates canon status. It is just a way to catch the Inners off guard and also provides a nice reference to Naoko's artwork. In a similar fashion, Tiger's Eye often "dates" Ami in musicals in order to trick her. The only exception to this, in my opinion, is in La Reconquista, where Zoisite and Ami actually have real development, both in the past life and present. While this could be used to say they are canon, I wouldn't apply it to the Sailor Moon universe as a whole, and definitely wouldn't apply it to all of the SenshixShitennou pairings.

All that being said, while I don't personally view the pairings as canon and don't particularly like them
either, I do think it is possible to smoothly incorporate them into the Sailor Moon universe.

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   10th January 2018, 3:32 am

I agree with the earlier statement that it seems to be canon in Crystal, unclear in the manga, and very improbable in the anime (PC Engine game possibly notwithstanding?). I sort of split each thing into it's own canon:

- Manga Canon
- Weird Manga/Anime hybrid canon: Sailor Moon Another Story
- '90s anime Canon
-- Pseudo sub-canon: PC Engine game
- Crystal Canon
- PGSM canon
- Various musical canons? (I don't know the details)

What is true for one isn't necessarily true for another, but as a thought experiment or for fanfiction/official sequel purposes (if only such things existed), pieces (or reimagined pieces) of one may fit into another's gaps. Like, were the Shitennou Endymion's guardians in the '90s anime too? Maybe, and I don't see why not, but there's no proof one way or the other so it's not canon, but it is canonically plausible.

With that in mind, one bigger question about the whole thing, to me, is how in control of their own actions the Shitennou really were in any given version! Before we can truly understand and judge them as characters, we have to consider the circumstances.

In the Manga, Kunzite has to slowly remember his past through a series of realizations after the deaths of the others and when he sees some of Beryl's secret activities (and Beryl, herself, seems to not be truly loyal to Metallia). It seems they made some kind of deal with Beryl, but at the same time they seemed to not truly understand the scope and impact of that unseen agreement, and are robbed of their memories. It also says their bodies were gruesomely altered somehow. So we don't have much information about who they originally were and we have limited information about how they got into this mess, that it seems they were misled and tempted somehow (and in their reincarnations, it's their desire to find Endymion that gets used against them). We also see them as ghosts when they briefly help Endymion- we don't learn much of their personalities this way, but their loyalty to him seems to be their top priority. Endymion himself also gets corrupted for a time, not as severely but it seemed to happen pretty easily, so that casts doubt on how complicit the Shitennou are in their own grim fate.

In Crystal, we see this a little more explicitly, and learn that the Shitennou and Inner Senshi did love each other in their past lives (and have very slight moments of confusion and conflicted feelings fighting them in the present), but that's all we really learn. When the Shitennou are killed, it reduces the Inner Senshi to tears for a moment, before they use up their power trying to help Sailor Moon fight Metallia as in the manga.

In the anime, we see even less of how they got to be the way they are- but there are a couple very useful contextual hints. In episode 44 Endymion tells Serenity that the people of Earth have been brainwashed by Beryl, and he seems to be on the run and in kind of a hurry. He also apologizes for being late to a ball she was apparently waiting for him at, and then returns to speak to her in disguise, explaining that he has to do this now because a war is about to break out and it would be bad for him to be seen with her now. That suggests to me that relations between the Moon and Earth were unstable, but not openly hostile before this, and that perhaps Endymion was actually invited formally to the ball.

(Though he also gets chased off by some kind of soldiers when he meets with Serenity- I'm not sure if these are guards chasing him away from the moon palace, or soldiers who tracked him from Earth, since Serenity seems to have no control over the situation and they wear cyan colored armor vaguely comparable to the armor the soldiers from Earth wear later in the episode.)

Anyway, what's particularly intriguing to me about the Shitennou's plight in the anime is that we see, by way of Mamoru, that's it's possible to be 100% unwillingly inducted into the Dark Kingdom, and that if Metallia spends long enough pumping her dark energy into someone compatible then he can violate even his most sacred feelings (as seen in episode 46 when he's had a heavier dose, contrasted with his weirdly-heroic Dark Kingdom servitude in earlier episodes where he keeps rescuing Usagi but insisting he's working for the Dark Kingdom). Mamoru didn't agree to this in any way, shape, or form- he was simply badly wounded, then put into a brainwashing chamber.

Do we have any reason NOT to think that the Shitennou received exactly the same brainwashing treatment in that continuity? And some of them do have heroic traits surfacing- Nephrite most obviously (not just with Naru; he incidentally saves that photographer kid from falling off a cliff before proceeding with his energy-draining plan), but Kunzite and Zoisite also display serious concern and affection and support for one another, albeit nobody else.

We have no information about their connection with Mamoru in the anime setting either, but since he's the Prince of Earth and they're leading the army it stands to reason they were are the very least subordinates to him, and there's nothing ruling out them being teammates/guardians. Zoisite goes extremely far in his mounting hatred of Mamoru, trying twice to murder him (as well as his part in what happened to Nephrite), but later we see Endymion compelled to fight Sailor Moon (albeit he seemed more broken and dead-eyed, like a puppet), so if Zoisite's spirit is weaker in the first place, perhaps he's just much more corruptible than Mamoru under the same sort of pressure.

Basically, I guess I'm saying we really don't know what these guys were originally like or exactly how they got the way they are. In their current villainous state they'd make lousy boyfriends except anime Nephrite, but there could be a lot more to the story back in the day.

Personally, while I really like the '90s anime's pairings best, I don't really do the exclusive OTP thing, so I do think the Sen/Shi relationships are interesting and if anything I wish Crystal had spent more time developing the personality dynamics, so when I eventually try the musicals I'm hoping there's a bit more depth to how the relationships are portrayed. I can imagine it working and being very interesting, perhaps as something that compels them to overcome their brainwashed state and return to their true heroic selves (much like what seemed to be happening with Nephrite in the '90s anime before he had the time to really understand it himself).

I really like stories where we find out the Shitennou were once truly good people and have been distorted beyond their control, retaining only a fragment of their true selves in the dark times when they serve Beryl (who seems to have some related problems herself- especially in the manga, when we learn about her present life being an archaeologist who was dragged into this fate accidentally by digging too far. Though it seems Beryl was probably more complicit in her original bargain with Metallia, in any continuity).

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Last edited by Mitsukara on 10th January 2018, 3:39 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Extra thoughts at the beginning)
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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   10th January 2018, 8:16 pm

@Mitsukara wrote:
I really like stories where we find out the Shitennou were once truly good people and have been distorted beyond their control, retaining only a fragment of their true selves in the dark times when they serve Beryl

This is interesting to me, because I always prefer versions where the Shitennou and Beryl were suspicious of the Moon Kingdom's surveillance even before Metalia's influence. Because the people in the Silver Millennium had super long lifespans and greater power in comparison to Earthlings, it's easy to see how their watching over Earth could be seen as controlling them rather than protecting them, so I like stories where Metalia takes advantage of this tension to turn the Earth people against the Moon.

Anyways, the reason I say this is interesting is it could explain why I don't see SenshixShitennou as viable. If they are acting of their own free will, it suggests they were always suspicious of the people of the Moon, which would make any relationships between them and people of the Moon to be unbalanced and full of resentment. On the other hand, in situations where the earth and moon coexisted and Metalia did more of a total-brainwashing, the relationship between the senshi and shitennou would be expected to be more friendly, and possibly romantic.

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PostSubject: Re: [Debate] Greatest Hits! Senshi x Shitennou - Canon or Fanon?   11th January 2018, 2:46 am

Quote :
This is interesting to me, because I always prefer versions where the Shitennou and Beryl were suspicious of the Moon Kingdom's surveillance even before Metalia's influence. Because the people in the Silver Millennium had super long lifespans and greater power in comparison to Earthlings, it's easy to see how their watching over Earth could be seen as controlling them rather than protecting them, so I like stories where Metalia takes advantage of this tension to turn the Earth people against the Moon.

I forgot to mention it in my previous post, but the anime vaguely supports the idea of the people of Earth being jealous or suspicious about some kind of longevity issue, though like so much else in episode 44 it's a single line in passing that leaves most of what went on to the imagination. It could be a thing where a lot of people on Earth were suspicious including the Shitennou, or they could've taken the Prince's side (since he obviously had goodwill towards the moon) and been turned against him by force of brainwashing, or who really knows? Maybe they were a little suspicious but willing to act in good faith, or some kind of gray area.

In the manga it seems more likely that they were suspicious of the Moon Kingdom (given that the people of the Moon and Earth were explicitly forbidden from interacting and Serenity had to sneak to Earth to seem much of Endymion, versus the "sorry about being late to the ball" anime thing). But then that's also the continuity that even suggests the possibility, so who knows? It could be that they had budding relationships that were torn down and destroyed by that distust, that seems like it could fit the tone of some other stuff in the manga. In that case, Crystal could either be saying that it's Shitennou were more trusting of the moon, or that they're simply given more time to realize their regrets.

One fanfiction writer I've read, who had more of an exclusive OTP thing than I do about Nephrite/Naru (the owner of the Nephrite and Naru Treasury website), depicted the silver millennium relationships as politically arranged pairings from an ultimately failed alliance (broken down by Beryl of course), and had Zoisite and Kunzite basically secretly being with each other while playing the ugly political game, and Nephrite and silver millennium Naru pushing against the tide (and Nephrite refusing to play along at all really), and ultimately getting in trouble and being separated by force when the kingdoms went to war. I'm not sure if I really "like" that scenario, but it does make for a dramatic story, and it's just another of the many ways it might've gone. In contrast, I think my earlier suggestion of the Shitennou being mostly innocent is going extremely soft on them, but it's just one of many possible approaches I can think of.

The thing is, it's all a little vague in any continuity, but the bright side of that is that there's lots of possibilities to explore!

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