In Memoriam: Zoisite, We Loved to Hate You
Oh Zoisite, you were equal parts serial dick, devoted lover and intermittent cross-dresser. He’ll be forever reviled as the character who orchestrated the death of our beloved Nephrite, as well as the one who attacked little children and stabbed Tuxedo Kamen while dressed in a miniskirt – and for these very reasons as an excellent, despicable foe that added real threat to the series.
From his first appearance in the series, Zoisite was an unusual presence. He was a scheming thorn in Nephrite’s side, only offering scorn and snark without giving any tangible results in his own work. As such, from the get go, he was an utterly unlikable character, especially when placed up against the rather-more stylish Nephrite.
At first, Zoisite just seemed a little like an effeminate weirdo floating about and trying to sabotage Nephrite’s career, but he became immeasurably more interesting to the viewer when it was explicitly revealed that he was in a homosexual relationship with his superior at the Dark Kingdom, Kunzite.
Having an obvious gay relationship in a children’s anime seems extraordinary, even more so for 1992. Despite Japanese shows exploring topics that western children’s programming wouldn’t touch with a 50ft pole, this relationship was remarkable even for anime. It’s not merely ‘suggestive’, it’s obvious by their physical intimacy what we’re looking at here.
You have to applaud the creator of Sailor Moon, Naoko Takeuchi, for broaching such a subject without commenting upon, either negatively or positively (in that sitcom sort of way). Homosexuality is almost treated like what it actually is – completely normal, and just part of the fabric.
I say almost because you cannot ignore the fact that Zoisite is sort of a stereotypical Japanese view of a gay male – effeminate in almost every way and completely at ease in a skirt. I don’t think that this is really the case, but I worry that the impression was given that Zoisite’s sexuality was a part of his villainy.
In fact, this is certainly not the case – Kunzite, as evil as Zoisite and just as gay, does not adhere to to the same homosexual stereotyping. Furthermore, this is not the last gay relationship in Sailor Moon. The third series has an even more central homosexual couple in the form of Haruka and Michiru. They are portrayed as fantastic admirable role-models, and their sexuality is, again, simply a part of their character rather than a focus of study.
Sailor Moon is an amazing programme for the promotion of positive gay relationships, but I can’t say that Zoisite and Kunzite’s relationship was particularly comfortable.
They had a real master-slave thing going, and the scenes of the two together gave an incredibly weird flavour to Zoisite that was at odds with his usual bitchy-murderousness.
It gave insight into the character of Zoisite, but it never really went anywhere. The Zoisite at the beginning of the series was exactly the same one as his last episode. Their’s no character arc to him – but hey, not every single bad guy is going to be Nephrite.
Zoisite had numerous moments of being a colossal prick. I mentioned his orchestration of Nephrite’s death (which is probably his greatest crime) but, of course, he also attacked a priest and a little girl without hesitation, continued to persecute the poor harassed Naru.
He was also quite a coward, avoiding confrontation when possible, running away from Tuxedo Kamen repeatedly, and eventually resorting to wearing a g-string in order to stab Tux in the back – literally.
Zoisite’s downfall was classic hubris, thinking he was clever enough to attempt the killing of Mamoru against Queen Beryl’s orders. This was the capstone of his character – Zoisite’s true loyalty was only ever to his lover Kunzite, and as such he was impertinent to everyone else.
As he laid dying, his last wish was entirely vain – to die “beautifully”, covered in potpourri. It was a memorable scene, but decidedly not the most memorable of Zoisite’s moments.
My number 1 visage of Zoisite will always be when he was consumed by a tidal wave of rats. So willing to adapt to any situation if it was to his advantage, Zoisite embraced a pillar of rats to attack his target which was, at the time, a fat blue cat.
That’s devotion to the cause.
Zoisite, I’ll always hate you, but I have to admit your were enjoyable to watch.
Number of Episodes Survived: 11 Episodes as the main bad guy, in total 21 episodes present
Final Score: 3/5