In Memoriam: Rubeus and The Phantom Sisters, One Awful Work Environment
Rubeus, as the ultimate mid-management 9-5 executive, was an excellent bad guy, in that he blamed all his inequities on his subordinates, then was shocked to find himself in hot water when they all quit.
Let’s take a look at the best moments of our four horrid sisters and their shitty hemp-pants wearing boss.
From their very first episode, Rubeus and the Phantom Sisters brought a level of personal threat that few enemies have yet to reach in Sailor Moon. This is because of their modus operendi – locate a little girl and murder her in cold blood.
Most definitely, the vain, snide, ambitious Phantom Sisters were at their best when attempting to personally murder. The episodes in which Rubeus sent them off to “corrupt” a Crystal Point saw them attempting to integrate into a civilisation a thousand years behind them, yet failing miserably. I definitely preferred the attempted child murder.
Plots such as “evil ice-cream parlour” or “evil fruit vendors” failed to quite live up to the fantastic episodes where Chibi-Usa was in direct danger, such as 2:14, where Koan tried to burn her alive, or 2:18, where Petz sent a Droid to zap her to death.
Koan is probably the most memorable Phantom Sister, being the first in the field, the first out of the field, and having the most curious of fashion senses… I very much appreciated her cat-like theme, but where the pink pyjamas and exploded-oil-slick-skirt came from, I have no idea.
Koan was always great in battle, too. Her Dark Fire attack looked great, she brought a definite threat to scenes, and her final protracted battle against Sailor Mars was fantastic.
Character development-wise, I really did buy her transformation from an enemy into a normal human. Her devotion to Rubeus did come out of nowhere, but in the course of a single episode she underwent a wholly sympathetic experience. Definitely the best written of the Sisters.
My favourite Koan moment is probably her reaction after Yuichiro whacked her on the head with a broom as she advanced on Chibi-Usa. I just love the look on her face. It had me laughing out loud.
Berthier was much less interesting as a character, floating around in an annoying faux-Osaka accent and never really having the same level of commitment to her plans as Koan. There are a couple of moments where you suspect she might be more dangerous then she lets on… but it never really materialises.
Her character development was wholly unconvincing. Whereas you could follow Koan as she lost everything and was given the chance to stand back up on her own two feet, when Berthier suddenly switched sides, it almost felt like she was setting a trap.
I don’t have many fond memories of Berthier, but the moment where she threw a huge block of ice at her sister’s face was pretty memorable.
You can’t consider Calaveras without throwing in Petz, too. I liked the decision to make these two a double-act, they worked together well. Their conversation really did feel like sisters who didn’t like each other very much, and who knew the real weak spots to attack for maximum damage.
Calaveras is much less well-defined as Petz. She never really got an emotional arc, and even her attacks lacked the glitz and glamour of Dark Fire, Dark Water or Dark Thunder – she merely used whips which, although admittedly badass, looked a lot less impressive.
I’ve always dug her weird dominatrix outfit too. Goes well with the suggestion that she’s a man-eater. I always felt that Rubeus would have been the most intimidated by Calaveras, as he has an obvious crippling misogyny.
Oh, how I love Petz. She doesn’t look like much first, just a very green lady with rather high hair, exchanging barbs that were no better than any of her other sisters. Where that changed, however, is on her mission with Calaveras to corrupt the gem store in 2:19.
Calaveras keeps joking about how Petz hates men because she got dumped. This is a little… reductive, shall we say, but the pay off when she has a wholly unreasonable outburst at the thought of the actions of despicable men was hilarious.
Even better was in the following episode, 2:20, when Petz is trying to sell “Dark Fruit”, and ends up getting super fucking emo.
“”You, there! Might you be feeling anxious about your life? For an unhappy person like you, black is perfect! Let’s have some Dark Fruits and we can both be unhappy!”
Here’s a woman after my own heart.
The episode in which she is seduced by the power of an evil wand, 2:25, also made a real physical threat too. I loved how psychotic she looked when kicking the Sailor Senshi’s ass.
Which leaves us with the awful administrator Rubeus.
Oh, what can I say about Rubeus? He’s hubris incarnate, consistently arrogant despite nothing he does ever actually working. He plots against his own subordinates, uses them as disposable pawns, shows no regard to their well-being, emotionally manipulates them, Koan in particular, then tries to cheat against the Sailor Senshi with false masculine bravado…
…and then he still fails. What a punk. I love him.
I think Rubeus is a fantastic bad guy. Leave the complex character development to the Phantom Sisters, Rubeus is just there to be hated, showing no qualms in attacking when he needs to and using low-down dirty tricks to get ahead. Precisely what you want.
It’s a shame that his successor, Esmeraude, is just fucking intolerable.
His heinous crimes reached their height in the episode where Koan left the Black Moon, where he (poorly) coerced Koan, using her feelings for him, but at the same time couldn’t prevent himself from smashing a bottle of cologne she bought him out of pure contempt.
What a reprehensible twat. His death was awesome, though. Screaming in a spaceship as it explodes? C’est Magnifique!
Of out all the episodes of Rubeus and the Phantom Sisters, nothing better encapsulates the in-fighting, the strange alien-like aura about them, the sheer threat and style they brought to the series, then 2:21 – Protect Chibi-Usa! The Clash of the Ten Warriors, surely the highlight of the series.
Each one of them gets to go head to head with a Sailor Senshi, proving themselves dangerous in battle, especially Rubeus, who up to that point had remained wholly desk-bound. The writing, the music, the art of those scenes in that episode were world-class, and I think a large part of it has to do with the incredible dynamic that these antagonists brought.
So what if they failed to do anything of worth? They screwed about and made great entertainment while doing it. Three cheers for Rubeus and the Phantom Sisters!
Number of Episodes Survived: The Phantom Sisters – 12, Rubeus – 14
Effort: B (Less time on the make-up and more time on the killing)
Final Score: 5/5 (There was an amazing string of episodes in this part of the series)