Make the big bads not so bad

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Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Zwzn » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:20 pm

In Sailor Moon canon the real villains are things like Kaos, Pharaoh 90, Death Phantom, and so on who are all basically omnicidal monsters

How would you alter the big bads so that they were just misunderstood, actually the good guys, or at least characters the reader can sympathy for with without drastically altering the events of the series?

This is just something that has been bouncing around my head for a few months, and I was wondering how others would go about it.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Crescent Pulsar R » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:34 pm

I'd go the route that touches upon light and darkness in the series, and why the need for balance makes neither good or bad. For instance, if it was based on the anime, then you could say that Crystal Tokyo wouldn't have happened without the "great freeze." If you look at nature on Earth, there are many examples of cycles of destruction and prosperity. One is just as needed as the other, or else nobody would mow their lawns. ;p
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby PCHeintz72 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:45 pm

Hmmm...

I guess I'm a minority, I thought them for the most part pretty tame, I believe had they *really* been the way portraid, they would have decimated the senshi. At least in anime continuity.

As for making them a evil good or anti hero type... one story actually take an approach I quite liked. It actually shows Beryls generals as while not the 'good' guys', they are not overly 'bad' guys, by introducing a menace that they publicly took out and gave a public sanitized explanation to cover all their actions. This was in 'Lord Ranma' by Chibi-Reaper (pity it has not been updated in awhile).

So... giving them an evil menace they can go public as fighting against would be a nice way to earn public brownie points, and throw off any investigations into them.


Alternatively, one approach I've been hoping to see is someone emphasizing the Senshi's status as vigilantes serving a foreign power operating on Japanese soil with their own royalty. To do what you want, while giving a twist to my own pallat, if the Dark Kingdom actually came forward and set themselves up as a public and known foreign power, and that their enemy (the Senshi) would be making clandestine attempts on thier lives on Japanese soil, it would almost force the Japanese government to act against the senshi in favor of the dark kingdom.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Kyoumen » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:04 am

Well, it's not even hard to do that for the Dark Kingdom; just portray their war as one of survival between two antithetical powers. They either wiped out the Moon Kingdom, whose power was death to them, or got wiped out by it. Of course, this is a bit of a stretch, but so is any attempt to make Sailor Moon villains come in shades of grey, really. :)

Don't know the R villains well enough (it's the only season I've not seen all of) so I'll skip them. The Death Busters could be portrayed as legitimately believing in a sort of Violent Buddhist philosophy where the coming of Pharoah 90 would be a legitimate blessing by cleansing all war and hatred from the world. They're also all quite insane, so that helps. Neherenia's hard, because we actually know why she did what she did and it's hard to spin it as anything other than "She was afraid of getting old, and was quite willing to eat the souls of everyone in her kingdom and kill anyone else she had to do avoid facing the fact she would age." I suppose you could make her a bit more understandable by making unaging immortality (which everyone in the Moon Kingdom seemed to have) a secret they refused to share with anyone else.

Galaxia's easy, and actually my favourite pet theory about the anime (though it draws some inspiration from the manga). She fought the war against evil for uncountable years. She threw down a hundred Dark Kingdoms, Black Moons, and false Messiahs, and saw a thousand more rise in their place. They all stemmed from the same force: Chaos. It was a never-ending war that even the greatest soldier of all could never win. So, unable to bear that, she took the fight to Chaos itself. She fought the very concept of evil and hatred, and she won (because anime Galaxia is awesome like that). But though she could defeat Chaos, defeat even the very concept of war, she could not destroy it - and tragically, the perfect warrior's only flaw was hubris. Unwilling to admit defeat even then, she sealed Chaos within herself. If she could beat it, surely she could contain it. Of course, she knew immediately her mistake - all she had done was give Chaos, which could not strike her down openly, the vulnerability it needed to corrupt her from inside. That battle, she could not win. Hence, the series. But, for a time, all evil was sealed away. For a time, kingdoms that knew only peace and love flourished, because the very concept of evil and conflict had been locked away by an unknown saviour. For a thousand years, a glittering kingdom on the moon of the third planet in an otherwise unremarkable solar system enjoyed the peace and prosperity that Galaxia's sacrifice had brought. Without her, nothing like it could ever have existed.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Comartemis » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:19 pm

Beryl actually gets a scene in the manga where she remembers the time before she threw her lot in with Metallia and she was just an ordinary girl. She spends a few panels wondering about how she's fallen so far and then brushes it off, thinking that there's no way she can go back. You might consider expanding on Beryl's backstory beyond "I was jealous of Serenity because I wanted Endymion for myself"; give her the Elfen Lied treatment, make her backstory unbelievably horrific -- maybe she was a slavegirl for most of her childhood and Endymion rescued her -- and make it so that losing Endymion was just the straw that broke the camel's back instead of the sole reason she sold her soul to Chaos.

Ail and Ann already have sympathetic motivations, we just don't see them until the end of the arc. Death Phantom could conceivably be morphed into Sailor Moon's version of Kirei Kotomine; a man who had a conscience and tried to live a good life, but could only take pleasure in evil deeds. Eventually he simply cracked and stopped trying, at which point he became Death Phantom. It won't excuse his actions, but it makes him more interesting than what he is now.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Quickshot0 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:42 am

It should be noted that the Black Moon Family with out his influence isn't all that evil and even with his influence is kind of grey. They're only doing what they are doing, because they think it's the only way to achieve justice against Crystal Tokyo.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Cheb » Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:51 am

I dunno. :? For me, they are already bowdlerized to the last limit at transition from manga to anime. :x Any further and the fabric of the SM reality breaks.

E.g. [Lovecraftian horrors merging with humans and planets and devouring their souls from inside + bastards who make Nazi look tame] => [A deliberately unspecified "darkness" + complete clowns]

In short, anyone who could be made redeemable are already made redeemable -- you could only tweak minor details.

P.S. Witches 5 (as well as prof. Tomoe) were "perfect daimohns" -- i.e. a daimohn merged with a human being to the point where there's no soul left (hence nothing to save -- even SM couldn't resurrect them). And they all had monstrous "battle forms".
Try to figure what they are in the anime version. There's just no any clues around. :wink:
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Kyoumen » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:11 am

The anime and manga are completely different series'; really, comparing them is pointless.

And the Witches 5 in the anime are presumably super-Daimohn possessing humans, like Tomoe/Germatoid is.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Cheb » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:33 am

really, comparing them is pointless.

True enough. And still, doing this gives a much needed perspective.

And the Witches 5 in the anime are presumably super-Daimohn possessing humans,

Key word is "presumably". :D
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Kyoumen » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:06 pm

Oh yeah, it's definitely not canonical (why don't see their eggs when they die?), just the Occam's Razor answer. :D
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby claymade » Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:50 pm

In my personal experience, the most important thing for making a villain--whether SM or otherwise--sympathetic is Point of View. Let us see things through their eyes.

This doesn't mean necessarily--or even primarily--"see things through their eyes... in a way that shows that they think of themselves as noble knights in shining armor" or whatnot. In fact, you can even lose some of the audience if you start "trying too hard", changing too many things to paint them in too good a light, causing too many inconsistencies with canon.

And really, a lot of the time, none of that is even necessary. Ultimately, "audience sympathy" doesn't really bear as much correlation to "being in the right" as it's often easy to think. The key is empathy. Fundamentally speaking, it's not "I agree, in principle, with the decisions that person made", it's "I can relate myself to that person's thoughts and/or emotions." Attacking along the latter axis tends, in my experience, to be more profitable than attacking along the former.

So show the audience thoughts and emotions that they can relate to. Show them in their downtime, when they're not actively trying to take over the world. Show them caring about something: whether a minion, a memento object, a memory, an accomplishment that happens to not directly involve kicking puppies, anything that the audience could understand caring about.

Even better, show them afraid about something: whether the heroes, their own mortality, betrayal, loneliness, a bigger villain, anything. Or similarly, show them in pain, for whatever reason. Anything that the audience could understand being hurt by or afraid of. Either way, vulnerability invites empathy.

(Really, a lot of the process of "villainization"--both in fiction and in real-life propaganda--is forming, conditioning the idea in people's minds that those who are against us are Not Like Us--that there is no need to feel sympathy for them as an ingrained assumption. They are The Enemy, after all. It's much, much easier to call those who do horrible things "monsters" than to admit that that is what humans are capable of... and confront the question of how much we ourselves might be vulnerable to that as well.)

In short, you don't need to make them any less evil. Just show ways in which they are, in whatever sense you can manage, more Like Us.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Wyrd » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:56 pm

Characterization in general was much better in the manga, and I feel that the manga versions, while often darker, are actually easier to redeem.

Kyoumen wrote:Oh yeah, it's definitely not canonical (why don't see their eggs when they die?), just the Occam's Razor answer. :D


You don't see any of the posessing daimon's eggs when they die, you only see that with the object daimons. Given what the manga says about the daimons, those eggs are likely life support devices that let them survive for a very short time on Earth, in an environment that is normally toxic to them. The ones in human hosts are implanted directly, but usually result in the human and daimon rejecting each other, with a very few exceptions like professor Tomoe and possibly the Witches 5.

In order of appearance: Beryl was concerned that the Moon princess was seducing Endymion merely so that they could finally take over the Earth, the only planet in the system not under Lunar control. She made a deal with Metallia to get the troops she needed to fight the much more powerful forces arrayed against her, only discovering too late the cost of that deal. To maintain control over Beryl, Metallia enhanced her feelings for Endymion and her jealousy that he loved anyone else to the point of insanity. Beryl got the Shitennou to her side by convincing them that Princess Serenity was actually after Endymion's throne, then offered to give them 'protection' against the magic of the Moon Kingdom so they would be able to save their Prince. Once they agreed to help her, Metallia was able to take them over, though once again it controlled them by controlling their emotions, thus why they were still focused on trying to save Endymion in the manga.

The Black Moon clan was actually worse in the manga, being active terrorists who were bombing places and murdering people to resist what they saw as an oppressive regime when Neoqueen Serenity banished them. In the Japanese anime, they were banished for refusing to let her purify them of 'evil.' I never watched the translated anime after seeing how badly they butchered the first season, so I don't know how that handled it. A story I came up with to make both sides more sympathetic here was this: The spell that warmed the Earth and ended the Great Freeze was not a one time deal, it took constant energy to maintain. To obtain this energy on a planet she was not linked to, Usagi had to magically bind every person on the planet to her so that she could siphon off their excess energy without harming any of them. A benefit of this binding was that they gained a measure of immortality, extending the life of every citizen of the planet, and were healed of any injuries or the effects of any malicious spirits/youma. People who had been 'evil' because of birth defects or brain injuries experienced drastic shifts in their personalities, creating the false rumor that Usagi was trying to remove all evil from everyone, with many fearing that 'evil' translated as 'anything that doesn't agree with her.' She banished those who resisted her because their active resistance had a small but real effect on the delicate magical weave keeping the Earth habitable, risking the lives of everyone on the Earth. They were actually given permission to colonize any planet except the moon, because Usagi's link to the moon would mean that their presence there would still be damaging the spell; they chose to go to Nemesis themselves because it was the only planet that didn't have a Senshi. Generations stewing on Nemesis, repeating the same stories over and over, growing worse with each telling, and with Wiseman nudging them on, and you have the Black Moon Clan that you see in R.

Continued in the next post. I've lost too many posts by waiting too long and getting logged off when I tried to post.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Wyrd » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:23 pm

Pharaoh 90 was an alien planet that wanted to xenoform Earth to make it inhabitable by its inhabitants. Make it a dying world that is just trying to save the its people before it dies, and it is already sympathetic, even if you don't want it to win. If the Senshi were to find out what it actually wanted, and help it colonize Mars or Venus instead, you could even have a happy ending for everyone, presuming you give the Senshi enough power that they could make Mars or Venus a better option than their own dying world. Given that the daimons can't survive Earth's environment, Mars or Venus might actually be more suitable if not for the lack of someone to help bridge the gap on this side of the equation.

Dead Moon Circus. She's a *bleep* she's a *bleep* she's the biggest *bleep* in the whole wide world, a la Eric Cartman. The anime version has no redeeming traits. She destroyed her entire planet out of vanity. I can have some sympathy for where she wound up, but not for how she got there. In the manga, some sympathy could be given to her if you define what she meant by being the dark version of the Moon Kingdom. A Yin to Yang balance could be written up here, especially since the Manga version of Stars suggests that evil is not the opposite of good, it is merely the expression of imbalance, so the two kingdoms, in RPG terms, could have been the Lawful Good Moon Kingdom and the Chaotic Good Dark Moon Kingdom. When Queen Serenity rejected all chaos because she associated it with evil, she set up the inevitable end of her own kingdom, because that which does not change, dies, and all change is an act of chaos. No matter how perfect a thing is, it inevitably must change. If it cannot change, then when the time comes to become something new it can only do so by totally destroying what came before.

Galaxia. I prefer the manga version because she didn't defeat Chaos. She wasn't strong enough. She was able to come up with a plan that would kill him by negating him though, feeding him enough star seeds that he would destroy the Galactic Cauldron, and in so doing, himself. This would mean that no new stars would ever be born in the galaxy, and it would slowly die over the next few billion years, but there would no longer be a source of evil in the galaxy either, allowing most of the planets that already existed to find peace and know a time without war before everything finally fell apart. When she couldn't stop all of the suffering she saw, she decided to remove the source of it, even if so doing limited the amount of time left for people to enjoy. Interestingly, the way it is written in the manga, defeating Chaos has an anentropic effect, actually youthening the galaxy and extending how long it will continue to support new stars and life. This means that if done on a regular basis for all time, the galaxy will actually never die, and there will be no end to the universe, especially if other galaxies are doing the same thing. The Big Bang never happened, or if it did it happened a very long time indeed before we think it happened, because our math for calculating it doesn't(and to be fair, can't) account for this effect.

There's all of the major ones. I like fanfics that make the opponents more real. You shouldn't make them more human(except for those that are human, of course) just give them more than 'energy yummy' for motivation. Otherwise, give a reason for them being so simple. For example, the daimons that possess items to hunt heart crystals are made for that purpose. This means that the daimon that possessed Haruka's car and ran around saying 'vroom' and otherwise making car noises was less than three years old(going by when Hotaru's accident occurred). This means that the Senshi are running around killing freakin' toddlers. Very powerful and destructive toddlers who they don't have much choice in fighting, but still, play that up and suddenly your readers feel bad for the monsters.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Zwzn » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:49 am

Wyrd wrote: Characterization in general was much better in the manga, and I feel that the manga versions, while often darker, are actually easier to redeem.
I find the exact opposite to be true. The big bads in the anime never say or do anything in the anime. Even Nehellenia is just just a Beryl level being who is gathering dream mirrors for some nautilus looking creatures who never seem to do anything beyond make a pact with her as I recall.

Wyrd wrote:You don't see any of the posessing daimon's eggs when they die, you only see that with the object daimons. Given what the manga says about the daimons, those eggs are likely life support devices that let them survive for a very short time on Earth, in an environment that is normally toxic to them. The ones in human hosts are implanted directly, but usually result in the human and daimon rejecting each other, with a very few exceptions like professor Tomoe and possibly the Witches 5.

In the anime the pod is more a seed pod then an egg, and they are all directly implanted into things. Germatoid is a big flower.

The diamons created in the anime are more then capable of thinking for themselves at least once they possess something. Dorknob actually had to be threatened with a worse death then what Moon would do if she did not do as told.

The only diamon that was rejected by it's host was Mistress Nine, and that seems to be very rare, but we do see a diamon turn some kid into a monster, and then killed by Uranus and Neptune.

Wyrd wrote:The Black Moon clan was actually worse in the manga, being active terrorists who were bombing places and murdering people to resist what they saw as an oppressive regime when Neoqueen Serenity banished them. In the Japanese anime, they were banished for refusing to let her purify them of 'evil.' I never watched the translated anime after seeing how badly they butchered the first season, so I don't know how that handled it. A story I came up with to make both sides more sympathetic here was this: The spell that warmed the Earth and ended the Great Freeze was not a one time deal, it took constant energy to maintain. To obtain this energy on a planet she was not linked to, Usagi had to magically bind every person on the planet to her so that she could siphon off their excess energy without harming any of them. A benefit of this binding was that they gained a measure of immortality, extending the life of every citizen of the planet, and were healed of any injuries or the effects of any malicious spirits/youma. People who had been 'evil' because of birth defects or brain injuries experienced drastic shifts in their personalities, creating the false rumor that Usagi was trying to remove all evil from everyone, with many fearing that 'evil' translated as 'anything that doesn't agree with her.' She banished those who resisted her because their active resistance had a small but real effect on the delicate magical weave keeping the Earth habitable, risking the lives of everyone on the Earth. They were actually given permission to colonize any planet except the moon, because Usagi's link to the moon would mean that their presence there would still be damaging the spell; they chose to go to Nemesis themselves because it was the only planet that didn't have a Senshi. Generations stewing on Nemesis, repeating the same stories over and over, growing worse with each telling, and with Wiseman nudging them on, and you have the Black Moon Clan that you see in R.


Neo Queen Serenity rules through what appears to be an absolute monarchy, and possibly also theocracy with her being the god.

In the anime the Dark Moon Family's ancestors fought a war to try and overthrow the senshi it seems. They lost after a war, and had the choice of be cleansed, or leave the planet with the senshi knowing full well what would happen.
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Re: Make the big bads not so bad

Postby Cheb » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:12 am

Interestingly, the way it is written in the manga, defeating Chaos has an anentropic effect, actually youthening the galaxy and extending how long it will continue to support new stars and life. This means that if done on a regular basis for all time, [...] The Big Bang never happened, or if it did it happened a very long time indeed before we think it happened, because our math for calculating it doesn't(and to be fair, can't) account for this effect.


It's more interesting than that. As we know, stars could only be born in spiral galaxies, it never happens in elliptical galaxies. But the laws of physics state that the spiral form would detoriate in an order of hundred million years.
So yeah, physicists came to the the whole "dark matter" making up to 96% of the universe idea just so they could explain the galaxies staying spiral.
Do you catch my drift? :wink:

Characterization in general was much better in the manga, and I feel that the manga versions, while often darker, are actually easier to redeem.

This is 50/50 true/untrue. Sometimes anime skips many vitail details to the character personality, sometimes manga makes it so short there's just no time to show any personality traits. I mean the four dark generals. In the manga they are as expendable as the anime youma, on the basis "came, opened his mouth to speak, was blasted away". The only excveption is Kunzite who gets a second try. In the anime their personalities are much deeper and detailed, we feel each other as a person, not some bland monster-of-the-week.
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