In Memoriam: Wiseman, The Brilliant Poker Face
Wiseman was the master manipulator, the guiding hand that used everything around him for his own purpose. More than just excellent planning lay underneath that filthy old cloak – he was an opportunist, one who managed to bring the future Crystal Tokyo to its knees.
Completely devoid of any real humanity, Wiseman was nevertheless a perfect antagonist: malice, intelligence and competence all wrapped up into one lazy dude who never bothered to walk anywhere. Here’s a toast, buddy.
I love Wiseman. I love him because he’s so utterly evil, in a way that’s completely devoid of any humanity. He’s been a constant presence in Sailor Moon R, sporadically at first, but with increasing regularity and threat.
It’s clear from first glance that he’s completely untrustworthy. Never trust a person when you can’t see their face, and trust them even less than that when that face happens to be a fucking skull. Yet despite this handicap, Wiseman has evidently enough skill in manipulation to have wormed his way right to the top of the Black Moon.
In fact, he is the Black Moon, although they don’t know it. You have to admire (albeit ruefully) the kind of brilliant antagonist tactician who can rule from the back. Wiseman has set everything up in the chess game, and it’s playing out how he wanted it to.
Yet that’s not to say he’s not adaptable. In fact, his flexibility, to use any situation to his advantage, is what makes him such a threat. Take the episode where he warned Rubeus that Koan was going to fail against the Sailor Senshi – he slyly suggested that Rubeus use Koan as a trap, to which the idiot wholeheartedly agreed.
At this point in the series, he seemed relatively benign, prophesying when and where The Rabbit would appear. He answered summons, pretending to be made for servitude, while in actuality allowing the members of the Black Moon to hang themselves
By the time Esmeraude played so willingly, and stupidly, into his hands, Wiseman had upped his game. By this point he had already kidnapped Chibi-Usa and was in the process of brainwashing her by using her own repressed memories against her.
If that isn’t opportunistic I don’t know what is.
The scene in which Wiseman tricks Esmeraude into wearing his ugly spiky tiara is one of my favourites of him at work. He knows exactly what to say, “foreseeing” the realisation of all of Esmeraude’s passions and ambitions. I like a clever bad guy.
Too bad the effects of his stupid tiara were just so rubbish.
Wiseman’s manipulation of Chibi-Usa was also a fantastic scene. Dredging up haunting memories, enhancing them, embellishing them, it was all very convincing.
Wiseman’s performance made these moments. With so little to work with – he was a pair of hands and, only occasionally, a couple of glowing LEDs for eyes, so the voice acting did most of the work. It was excellently done, all raspy menace. I love it when he screams, “NO ONE EVER LOVED YOU!”
As soon as Black Lady turns up, a bit of a change comes over Wiseman: or as much of a change as you can get when you don’t have skin. He begins to strut.
It starts as soon as he introduces her to Dimande. After that, he just doesn’t seem to give a shit any more whether the Black Moon clan knows he’s just using them or not. This is such arrogance that he kills Saphir, right in front of his own brother, and there’s absolutely no consequences for him. It’s crazy. He’s Tony Montana, guys.
As Wiseman gets more daring, and dangerous, we little glimpses of the true personality that has been under tight control over the entire series. He begins sneaking in some rather maniacal laughter that puts Esmeraude to shame, and the little flashes of an empty skull underneath his robe are just brilliant.
Even better – we never get a complete look at Wiseman. For all we know, he really is just a skull and some crappy cloth, the real identity lying within his crystal ball. I like that ambiguity.
His true identity, Death Phantom, is whipped out at the last minute. Might have been more effective to build this up over the series, but it works well nevertheless. I love this idea that Wiseman is the avatar of some malevolent god, that all these machinations are nothing more than the preamble to, say, summoning Cthulhu.
His final battle with Neo Queen Serenity is a brilliant one, but he takes something of a backseat in the awesome scene. Wiseman gets little more to do than blast a bit of dark energy about, but at least he does it looking more menacing than he has ever been.
His final few moments, a vehement denial that Serenity and Chibi-Usa could defeat him, is pretty great. His voice gets all messed-up and slowed-down, as if he’s melting, and we get one last shot of his rather lovely skull.
Without a doubt, my favourite Wiseman scene is when he has no hesitation in blasting Saphir to death with a giant cool-ass energy ray. It was just so bold. His flippant reaction of “He was totally a traitor” was so obnoxious, and even better was the follow up of ordering his superior, Prince Dimande, to retreat.
As a close second I would put the scene in which he cornered and captured Chibi-Usa by indelicately ripping through her memories. A great scene.
In conclusion, Wiseman was a badass that put Prince Dimande to shame. He didn’t have nearly as much depth as Queen Beryl, or any of her interesting pitiable backstory, but as a supreme bastard that you just want to hate? Brilliant.
Number of Episodes Survived: 28 (That’s a damn good run)
Effort: A (This guy has been plotting for centuries)
Final Score: 5/5 (I love me some Wiseman)