The Working Girls
Yeah, once in a while they're male. But not very often, and besides, "working boys" doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, now does it?
Youma, expendable as they are, are necessary. Think of a first season without them. I can come up with three scenarios.
One: there are no youma. The kings actually have to do the work themselves, and because they are so powerful and cool, they easily win and evil conquers all. A nice thought, but not gonna happen on a kids' show, anime or no. Sorry.
Two: there are no youma, but the kings can't win, simply 'cause they're bad. They continue to stalemate with the senshi in every single episode. The viewers get tired of this and start to watch different shows, or even worse, go outside and play or do their homework. Again, not an ideal situation for those in the entertainment industry.
Three: there are no youma and the kings can't win, but kids need to see constant carnage and death to stay interested. The solution? Kill off the kings quickly, to suit the short attention span of children. Trouble is, there's only four kings, plus Beryl and Metallia. They all get killed, no one else to fight, show's over.
So we need youma. And they are often interesting, sometimes in look, sometimes in attack, occasionally in personality.
Like Tetis. She was a youma who was high in Queen Beryl's favor, but she also had a thing for a blonde king by the name of Jadeite. She sought him out and offered him her assistance in a plot to gather energy in episode twelve.
As if that were all that she was after! She makes up one of Jadeite's rare moments of character developments in her references to some sort of past with him. Jadeite, however, was uninterested in her. He did like her plan, though.
She used a cruise liner to capture the energy of couples in love. I'm sure she had some ulterior motives, as well, for the ship's captain -- a lovely tanned Jadeite.
Tetis had a wonderful personality, since she actually had one. So she took advantage of her important role. She appeared in four outfits in one thirty-minute show -- her original minidress, a first-mate uniform, an evening gown (with a different hairdo -- odangos without the ponytails. Think Street Fighter's Chun Li) and her faceless youma form.
The power of the sea fueled her attacks; she was quite strong.
As luck would have it, and of course it did, the Sailorsenshi were on board, and since they weren't in love, they weren't drained of energy and were feeling fine enough to battle.
Since Tetis was a youma, of course she was defeated and destroyed as all of Jadeite's were, leaving him to escape.
Her death caused punishment for Jadeite, though, due to her rank as one of Beryl's favorites, so she not didn’t get completely ignored and left unavenged like most of her type.
Tetis is my favorite youma, if it matters. I also absolutely adore her dub voice in its corny, obviously lascivious nature. I can do a mean impression of it. And as it is one of the very few dub voices I don't completely hate, it gets is quite an honor. Just in case you wanted to know, on a personal note my mom calls her "tight-ass", though in the original, her name is pronounced closer to tet-ees or tet-ees-u.
The other youma that gets attention to some degree is Oniwabandana (Ninjana in the dub, which is, believe it or not, a dub name that I prefer over the original. Now, don't get me wrong; Oniwabandana is fun to say, especially in an attempted Kunzite imitation, but I prefer Ninjana 'cause it's much easier to pronounce and to type out. I much prefer her voice in the original, though, even if she does often punctuate her statements with "Ban-ban"). She is a photographer in both youma and human form, which is rather neat, and appears in episode forty-three.
I also have a thing for ninjas and masks. I also thought the youma who killed Nephrite were cool, though not as cool as Oniwabandana.
Oniwabandana was an interesting youma. Usually the youma that actually talk to their king are more interesting than the ones that merely obey or completely kiss up. She was one of Kunzite's, and apparently one that he liked.
Her powers were many, as well, and fun to watch. The bandana around her head turned into a whip, she had a large sword, she could multiply herself, and she teleported by sinking into the ground and rising up from another surface, sometimes upside down from the ceiling.
She was involved in Kunzite's best plan after Zoisite's death (I think his plan that included Zoisite in drag was better, though), which may add to her appeal. Kunzite utilized her and her human persona in order to turn an obvious ploy on the part of the Sailorsenshi into a scheme for the Dark Kingdom.
The dub made it seem like the "Negaverse" actually fell for the girls' trick, but in reality, Kunzite and Oniwabandana knew the whole time and were pretending to be fooled so the senshi would let their guard down.
"If you want to get me into a trap, study acting a little more!" -Kunzite (who also, I should note, referred to the senshi's acting as a "Monkey mime show", something culturally Japanese that refers to bad acting. Well, I thought it was funny!)
They still lost, if only because they are the villains and so must lose. Oniwabandana did not end up dusted like Tetis, but instead became "healed" into her human persona. Kunzite did escape, and looked very good in doing so, with a really cool force shield, but was only prolonging his death for one episode -- he met his doom in number forty-four.
Not all youma were allowed the personality, look, and air time of these two, but they still played many important roles.
For example,Suzuran, Grape, and Housenka were Zoisite's hit-women, responsible for the kidnapping of Naru and for Nephrite's assassination, which was, to say the least, crucial to the first season anime's storyline.
I'd say that's important, though as characters they were pretty blah. All they wanted to do was to kill the traitor, and had to follow Zoisite's orders of kidnapping the girl first to protect them from Nephrite's power. Not that it mattered; Sailormoon and Sailormars dusted them anyway.
But they did manage to kill Nephrite before they did so, so they did end up successful in their mission, if that's any consolation. And they were the only characters in the show to use the phrase "Zoisaito-sama". I like that.
They had cool attacks, too. Grape had her thorn-arm, Suzuran had her sonic attack (or whatever) and Housenka had her exploding bead-thingies. All were rather powerful, and it took a "Fire Soul" combined with a "Moon Tiara Action" to finish these three off.
Of course, they weren't destroyed in time to save Nephrite's life...
Another instance of youma being rather character-less but are worth some mention are the youma who appear in episode twenty-one. Castor and Pollux were not particularly crucial to the show's storyline, but the interesting thing is that Nephrite called them the "Strongest Youma", openly bragging of their abilities to his rival Zoisite. Indeed, the Sailorsenshi's attacks seemed useless against them; they could throw the attacks right back. They even got a song sung in the background of this battle.
So they had some sort of significance, as far as youma who appear for only about three minutes go.
Fitting in with that episode's friendship-values-theme, however, these youma lost their strong friendship which bound them like twins (to paraphrase Nephrite's description of them to Zoisite) and began to bicker, thus leaving an opening for the Sailorsenshi to demonstrate their teamwork and destroy them with the combination of a "Moon Tiara Action", "Fire Soul", and "Shabon Spray".
Nephrite was in quite a state of disbelief. Zoisite thought it was funny.
Well, now that we've briefly studied a youma who served under each of the Shitennou, let's move on to look at youma as a whole.
Youma have many different origins, as well. Jadeite's youma generally took disguised themselves as humans, but they always stayed youma who shape-shifted. Sometimes they used extra techniques -- for example, the creepy little bunny things known as "Shaneera" are arguably youma themselves, who hypnotized their owners and turned them into monsters, but they were part of the main youma's power, really. Nephrite's youma were mobile, and he was able to put them in objects through his nifty little glowing symbol. Zoisite's youma were mostly the super youma trapped inside the nijizuishou carriers, though before he knew of the nijizuishou he used regular youma who never bothered to disguise themselves, and afterward he adjusted the kurozuishou to turn ordinary humans into youma. Kunzite also used this method, though he didn't use the kurozuishou. He just… stuck out his arm, blasted them, and turned them into youma -- I don't know the mechanics of it.
(heck, I bet Toei Animation doesn't even know the mechanics of it! But they do know that when he does it in episode forty-two, his hair stands straight up, and it looks freaky.)
Jadeite's, Nephrite's, and the first of Zoisite's youma were destroyable, and died with a "Moon Tiara Action", but the nijizuishou youma and beyond became healed back into their human forms with a "Moon Healing Escalation". When they turned back to humans, they yelled "Refresh!".
That's one thing I really like about the first season. Yes, they go after energy and search for powerful objects, but each king has a definite way he goes about his task, from his plans to the way his monsters-of-the-day are created, so the episodes don't feel nearly so repetitive. That's something not seen much in later seasons.
Unfortunately, the thing I don't like about youma is their weakness. It's either said or implied in both manga and anime that the Dark Kingdom is the weakest group of villains in Sailormoon. While this may be true for manga,
In most youma, the human and youma forms were very different. For example: the woman on the left is Nishimura Reika, and so is the right, in her youma form Rikoukeida. Reika was a nijizuishou carrier who Kunzite thought was quite beautiful. Zoisite, jealous, said that she was really an ugly youma. He was right. Conversely, the plain-looking braided-and-bespectacled artist Yumeno Yumemi was the lovely angel youma seen at the top of this page.
Some youma also did not have human forms. None of Nephrite's did. Neither did the "DD Girls", who were the five youma who fought the senshi after Kunzite's death, when the senshi went to the North Pole to seek the Dark Kingdom. These youma were responsible for the deaths of sailors Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, though the girls took the youma out along with them. I personally found it hard to believe that these mere youma could do what the all-powerful, really cool kings could not. Oh, well, the animators were desperate and needed some situation of emotional agony to put Sailormoon in.
It worked, too... even I, who would desperately have rather seen the kings fighting the senshi at that point, have to admit it. Youma do have a definite purpose in and effect on the show.
Despite that we're around for such a brief time individually,
on a whole, we're pretty darned scary. And that's what we want.
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*A note on many of the names: I spell them as I prefer them -- the different spellings I use come from a number of different sources. If they're wrong, apologies. My bad.