Nephrite –Knight of Intelligence and Comfort, General of the North American Division.
So now that we’ve talked about our first Knight who seems to be the calm peacekeeper of the group, let’s move on to the one that probably comes off as the cool big brother, that being Nephrite.
What’s really curious to me about Nephrite right out of the gate in Crystal is the vibe he gives off as soon as he enters the scene. There’s some sort of aura around him that automatically made me think of Gurren Lagann’s Kamina, but not so boisterous or reckless in nature. This was vastly different then the vibe he gave off in the Manga and the original anime, although he seems to share some very slight traits with his former anime incarnation in that he likes to taunt the other members of the Shitennou.
But once more, let’s take a look at the history of this character in regard to his Manga self. Nephrite is described as the eldest son type, emotional and intense, and more than likely to get himself killed. He’s a risk taker, but also someone that respected his fallen comrade as he wanted to get revenge for Jadeite’s death. Unlike Jadeite who gets at least three chances to prevail, Nephrite only has two and both are very grand in scale. During his first attack on the scouts he possesses Princess D and uses her steal her own treasure thinking it’s the Silver crystal, and drain the party goers at her ball. When this fails the next time he uses a bride mannequin to brainwash men and goes after Mokoto, ultimately winding up getting himself killed in the process. In the first anime he’s far more charismatic, and winds up using and playing Usagi’s best friend Naru, until his death by Zoisite’s Youma’s.
So now that we know a little about the past versions of Nephrite, what can we glean about the Crystal version of this character. As with Jadeite, one has to look at the scenes and actions that are taken by Nephrite in all his appearances to get a better picture of who this character is. Unlike Jadeite who seems to keep his emotions in check, Nephrite shows them in spades as well as illustrating his personality through his actions. He practically telegraphs how he feels by the simplest of movements. Nephrite is older than both Jadeite and Zoisite, and at least appears to be in his later teens, unlike Jadeite, who looks about Mamoru’s age. My guess is that he’s probably 17 or 18, possibly 19, but still younger than Kunzite.
The best way to learn more about Nephrite is to look at his appearances in the show so far. So let’s see what we can learn about his personality in Act 3 through Act 5.
When we first meet Nephrite in Act 3 it’s just after Jadeite has apologized to Beryl for yet another screw up on his part. Not only has he failed to gather energy, but he’s also failed to find the Legendary Silver Crystal twice. Things don’t bode well at all for Jadeite. In fact it seems as if he’s readying himself for some form of punishment, and yet…a second later Nephrite appears and starts talking just after Jadeite stops speaking.
Nephrite: “The Youma you create are mere clay dolls. That’s why they are so weak. Queen Beryl, I am one of the Four Kings of the Dark Kingdom, Please leave it to me.”
He continues as he approaches Beryl, all the while Jadeite glaring at him with a look that a younger sibling would give his older brother if he was butting into his business and bragging. It’s a bit odd the way he says this line, as if introducing himself to her, but it seems they have been working together for a while, so I’m partly chalking that line up to being a viewer introduction line and leaving it at that.
Nephrite: “I’ll efficiently gather more energy for our Great Ruler and will obtain the Legendary Silver Crystal, as well.”
As he’s saying this Nephrite walks over towards Jadeite and although we can’t see the look the way he stands and faces Jadeite shows that he’s probably smirking at the younger man. Acting like he knows he’s better and is certainly someone that can get a job done. He has his hand on his hip when he is facing Jadeite, much like a smug person would, and Jadeite seems to be in a staring contest with him. The energy between the two is pretty strong as it feels like there’s something of a rivalry going on there.
What’s curious to me is the fact of Nephrite’s timely appearance. Prior to him showing up Jadeite appeared to be headed into trouble. Yet any thoughts of punishing Jadeite are lost when Nephrite pulls her and Jadeite’s attention away. I can’t really say if this was an intentional move by him, but given the short nature of Crystal, all actions have to be deliberate when dealing with the plot line. So this brings up the notion that, at least a part of Nephrite is protective of Jadeite. Why that is, I have a theory, but I’ll hold back until later. What I can for certain is that Nephrite knows how to get Jadeite’s goat, getting an honest reaction out of a character that has a very calm attitude.
This idea of protection crops up again when we see Nephrite speaking to Jadeite after he’s brought the bus into the Dark Kingdom stronghold. He appears off to the side watching Jadeite place the passengers in the grouping that we later pan to, and has his hand on his hip again.
Nephrite: “You are too lenient, Jadeite.”
Jadeite: “Is that you, Nephrite? The more hostages the better to lure out the Sailor Guardians.”
The moment I watched this scene between the two I could tell that the animators at least wanted to convey a sense that Nephrite cared about Jadeite. He comes out of his way to warn him about his behavior that it could be seen as too nice or too easy going. He doesn’t outright say it, but the idea hangs in the air there. Nephrite isn’t saying this for his own benefit, he’s legitimately warning Jadeite here that his actions can be seen as too soft and that could land him back in trouble.
Jadeite though somewhat scoffs at the idea, as if he’s not paying any mind to what the older man is saying to him. This back and forth between the two in just this episode sets up, in the most subtle way possible that there’s definitely some sibling or friendly rivalry going on between these two Kings. On Nephrite’s side, at least, it’s more along the lines of taunting and teasing rather than out and out bragging or hostility. If it was hostile, why then come to warn Jadeite about his actions, it doesn’t benefit Nephrite in the least to have Jadeite look good before Beryl as it means that Nephrite doesn’t get his turn in the spot light. But, and this is the thing I keep coming back to, it seems like Nephrite legitimately doesn’t want anything to happen to Jadeite. It’s almost like he’s actually trying to keep him safe from harm, and urging him, the best he can, to act in a way that would be more befitting so that Beryl won’t be forced to do something to him that Nephrite can’t stop from happening. The more you look at that one line, the more it seems that Nephrite deliberately appeared when he did to distract Beryl from whatever punishment she was thinking of giving to Jadeite at the start of the show.
Nephrite of course leaves and we get the rest of the episode as follows with Rei becoming Mars and Jadeite escaping. It’s really in Act 4 that we get more on his character.
In Act 4 after Jadeite fails once again, being defeated by Rei, he returns to get chastised by Kunzite and then Zoisite and Nephrite come in commenting on the situation as well.
Zoisite: “I heard that they are also searching for the Legendary Silver Crystal.”
Nephrite: “Hmph, we will get to it first at any cost.”
Once more Nephrite’s hand is on his hip, and seems to be cocky about the whole situation. As if to say that the girls have no chance. There’s a feeling that surrounds Nephrite at this moment. He’s cock sure about how easy it will be to get what they want, and is willing to take risks to get it. What’s compelling about this moment is that unlike in the original anime where you can sense hostility, even though there are clearly some negative feelings in the air, there’s also a sense of comradery between these three young men and they each know that they’re going to be dealing with things as a group rather than individually. While there is a rivalry going on, there’s also a hint of compassion and friendship there, which is a very big difference from the first anime adaption of the manga.
Once Queen Beryl calls them in Nephrite can be seen kneeling with the others right in line before Zoisite. Again, we come to that moment when I have to speculate what role in the Five man Band Nephrite plays. If we go on the assumption that Jadeite, previously, was Peace Keeper (aka the chick of the group) and the weaker character, this would put Nephrite as the Lancer or possibly the Cool Big Brother along with the idea of being the Sneaky guy in the group. As the Lancer, Nephrite would be more willing to take risks based on his emotions, as oppose to Kunzite who is more straight laced. This fits in with the idea of someone who can be intelligent as well as understand emotional needs. One can also consider him the Face of the group, given that he seems to be quick to brag. If we take this as the idea that the Shitennou are warped versions of their true selves, the bragging/brash side of Nephrite that we see here makes it seem like his true self is probably a more charming individual who has an easy time talking with others, but there’s more to it, but I’ll hold off on that for later.
Later in the episode while Usagi is dealing with a stained dress Rei and Ami are searching for Princess D and Rei senses Nephrite in the form of a woman who is assisting the young princess. While this is more of an important note about Rei’s powers, it’s interesting that so far the Shitennou give off vibes to her even in different forms, as long as they’re in physical range, allowing her to figure out who they are, or rather that the disguise they are wearing is not what it seems.
Nephrite follows the princess into the room and it’s moments later that we see what’s going on in there with him and Princess D.
Princess D: “They only care about this secret treasure. For them, this is more important than me.”
Nephrite: “That’s right. I don’t care about you at all. Now hand over the secret treasure!”
Princess D: “An Intruder!”
What caught my attention on a second viewing after seeing Act 10’s revelation is that this set up falls directly into the area that Nephrite’s supposed to govern as a Knight. Princess D feels unwanted, that no one cares about her, that they only need her because of the treasure. If we assume that Nephrite’s true personality would be opposite or lighter than the one we see in Crystal it would be easy to see him giving words of wisdom and comfort to the Princess, getting her to understand that she is important to the people. However this twisted version of him feeds on her fears and her worries that she’s not important to anyone.
Just as things are looking bad, the scouts burst in to try to save the Princess.
Ami: “Don’t Move!”
Nephrite: “Damn I almost got it!”
Nephrite jumps back transforming back into his normal form and faces off against Mercury and Mars who look surprised to see that he can do this trick.
Nephrite: “If it comes down to this…Come forth Youma who serves our Great Ruler!”
Before the girls can stop him, Nephrite possesses the princess, and quickly orders the princess to: “Now take that with you.”
Princess D: “The Legendary Silver Crystal is mine. Out of my way!”
Ami: “Oh no!”
We get a glimpse of Nephrite’s other ability when the Princess uses Nephrite’s power to drain a whole room of people. Moments later, after knocking Usagi off a balcony, Princess D gets cornered by the scouts and states “How annoying.”
Facing down the two scouts Nephrite’s shadow takes on his form with red eyes and smirking.
Nephrite: “I’ll be taking the secret treasure!”
Sailor Moon: “Hold it!”
Her timely arrival allows for a distraction and Mars uses an attack on him. However, much to her shock, the attack doesn’t work and Nephrite just smirks at her. With the girl’s in trouble words of wisdom come from Tuxedo Mask who explains to them that light can defeat darkness. This allows for Sailor Moon to attack with her Tiara, and surprisingly, destroy the Youma inhabiting Princess D. This action sends Nephrite’s shadow out of her body and he reformats himself on a roof top across from the girls.
Sailor Moon: “What’s going on here?”
Nephrite: “What you attacked was just my shadow.”
Nephrite seems calm, as if this was nothing. He doesn’t really look impressed, rather he looks resigned. As if he’s simply patronizing them and again being rather sure of himself. His expression only changes when the other Shitennou appear with Kunzite chastising him for being careless.
Nephrite through this episode seems to keep his cool, only breaking it when he is caught the first time by the Sailor Guardians. It’s interesting that, unlike Jadeite, or later Zoisite, he doesn’t get easily frustrated by the girls or their antics. It feels like he’s playing a game with them and finds it amusing. It’s interesting that he has his arms crossed in this scene in a relaxed pose. He’s taking things seriously and yet, he doesn’t want the girls to believe he is. Again it’s like he’s playing a game with them and enjoying it.
His last large appearance is in Act 5 where we see him meeting with the Queen Beryl who is more than just pissed off.
It’s really the first time we’ve seen her express her anger in a far more vocal way, whereas before she sounded annoyed, it seems like now she’s outright angry about it.
Beryl: “You meddlesome sailor Guardians! Not only have we failed to find the Legendary Silver Crystal, but we haven’t even taken enough human energy for our Great Ruler.”
Nephrite: “Queen Beryl, please allow me to redeem myself.”
Beryl: “Nephrite, do you have a plan?”
Nephrite: “Yes. I will take advantage of love, the greatest weakness of the humans and easily obtain more energy. “
Nephrite ends with a smirk and a look in his eyes as if he’s going to enjoy the plot he’s about to unleash. The story then takes a turn for the interesting as we are introduced to Makoto and learn about a series of mysterious disappearances due to a ghost bride taking grooms and making them vanish. It’s interesting that rather than targeting women, Nephrite is targeting men in this case. What catches my attention about this is that you would think that a bride situation would be focusing in on women, and yet Nephrite points out the weakness in men over women in this case.
I have my suspicions that Nephrite may have chosen this due to his own feelings. For most of his appearances Nephrite is constantly glib and cocky. His body language is constantly showing him as amused by things, and yet his dialogue later sounds very much like a man that was hurt by being in love with someone and having that love spurned, or worse, taken from him in some way or another. He’s a man betrayed by someone, though I can only speculate as to who or what at this time. Using men’s feelings as a means of collecting energy is different in that it seems like he’s trying to draw out feelings of love from the men due to the fact that they would love the women that they are with deeply. It’s only grooms, not single men he’s focusing on which makes me wonder why target them. I suspect a deeper meaning but I’ll explain on that farther down.
After a meeting with Rei where she senses something with Makoto being the next member, we cut to Matoki closing down Crown Arcade. It’s at this moment that we get to see the bride that the girls were looking at early come to life. The bride brainwashes Matoki to become her slave. This ties into the flashback we get about Makoto’s past at her other school, where she apparently liked an older student who chose another girl over her. Regarding the bride herself, there’s a lot of speculation about why the bride looks the way it does, if I have to hazard a guess on this I would say that one of the reasons maybe a subconscious memory of Nephrite. It’s also interesting that Matoki targets Makoto over any other girl, and she’s the ONLY girl that’s targeted at all. The other victims are all grooms. So why her, and how did Nephrite know where she was and why did he purposely send Matoki after her in the first place?
Brainwashed Matoki finds Makoto and starts to drain her as Mamoru walks by and sees the energy around him. Tuxedo Mask gets Usagi to get her to the location where Makoto is and the girl’s meet the bride who is drawing in the energy from a now unconscious Makoto and a possessed Matoki. The scouts attempt to fight the Bride who grabs hold of Makoto and holds her prisoner.
Bride: “What can you do?”
Nephrite appears and chuckles. Luna realizes that he’s been the one controlling the ghost.
Nephrite: “Pathetic Humans. You’re so easily fooled by appearances. “
Makoto wakes up and looks over at an unconscious Matoki on the ground and we get the back story about her and the boy she had feelings for. She questions if the words of love that Matoki spoke to her were lies and Nephrite is surprised to see that she’s still awake.
Nephrite: “She’s still conscious?”
He seems surprised by this factor, but still has his arms crossed as if trying to keep up with his appearance of being collected. Makoto reflects on the fact that Matoki looked like the boy that she cared about and Nephrite hearing all this comments about how people look at things.
Nephrite: “You humans are so obsessed with appearances, but ignorant of the true nature of things.”
As he’s talking Nephrite’s brow goes down, showing him getting cross. The look in his eye when he talks about ignorance had me curious about this line. Let’s look at it from another angle. Nephrite is a good looking man, there is no doubt and he knows this. But at the same time he’s noting that humans are obsessed with the idea of appearances, something that Makoto struggles with due to her being tall and more athletic than other girls. It seems to me that there’s a probably chance that the reason that Nephrite says this is due to the fact that he too struggles with this issue. Namely that he’s the Knight of Intelligence, and to him the fact that people don’t look beyond the shallow is insulting to him. This is especially true if he is the Lancer and the Face.
Because of this role it would mean that a lot of the time he would have to come off as very social and open to people that he may not like. Because of his nature as a charmer, he probably has a lot of women that like what they see but never look below the surface of him as a person and just want a good looking man on their arms. He wants his victims to believe that no one understands them, and in this case with the men, he wants them to feel like their brides won’t get them on a personal level. That the only reason they want to be with their future husbands is a shallow one. (Kind of speaks to a very cultural thing in japan in regard to how some women tend to prefer men that make a lot of money over marrying for a loving relationship.)
Makoto falls into this idea recalling the words said by the students earlier in the day and falls into despair.
Makoto: “Yes. No one understands me.”
Nephrite: “You are a fool to believe in love.”
Makoto: “Loving someone is foolish. I don’t believe in anything anymore. The feeling of love and everything else…”
Usagi breaks this spell by telling her that she’s wrong and that loving someone is not a foolish thing to do. This speech wakes Makoto up from her sadness, which pisses off Nephrite. For the first time in this fight we see him drop his hands from a cross armed stance, feeling that this is just a game, to keeping them down. This has suddenly become a battle for him, not a game, as Sailor Moon has broken his spell, something that he didn’t think was possible.
Nephrite: “Enough Sailor Guardians! Believe in foolish love and ruin yourself!”
He has his bride attack, and it’s interesting after a speech about destiny that he does this. Nephrite doesn’t appear easy to rattle so the fact that Sailor Moon’s words got to him too means she struck a nerve somewhere. Which in and of itself makes me wonder if, out of the Shitennou, Nephrite is the one that is a believer in such things. Again it’s said that he is emotional and reckless, so it would be easy to believe that someone like that would rush head long into loving someone, and be deeply hurt if that feeling didn’t pan out the way he thought it would. So could there be some connection to this idea?
The attack spreads out and hits all the girls, and Nephrite chuckles looking rather pleased with catching them. There’s something eerie about his expression that I can’t put my finger on, as if he’s seeing someone else there rather than the scouts at the moment. It’s then that Makoto finally reacts to everything gaining her confidence back.
Makoto: “Very well!”
Nephrite bites his lip and his eyes go a bit wide realizing that Makoto is suddenly fighting back. Something he wasn’t expecting at all. She throws the bride at him, and the Youma lands beside him as Nephrite stands there speechless. Makoto makes an impassioned speech about bringing on the ruin and then transforms into Sailor Jupiter.
At this point Nephrite realizes he’s at a disadvantage and is gearing up for a full on fight. He’s not playing around anymore and his body language shows it. His legs are spread and he’s leaning forward with his fists clenched and muscles taught. He’s setting himself up for any blow that can be dealt so he doesn’t get knocked over.
Nephrite: “Curses…So you’re a Sailor Guardian, too?”
Jupiter: “No one can bring down a girl who believes in love!”
Jupiter then attacks with her Flower Hurricane prompting a surprised look from Nephrite. The odd thing is that…the bride used a similar attack earlier causing a storm of black rose petals to blind the girls. Now the same attack is coming at him, which again, makes me ponder things in regard to Nephrite and Jupiter.
Nephrite: “What the hell is this?”
He gets hit by one of the flowers and it cuts through his sleeve.
Nephrite: “I can’t move.”
Annoyed he turns to face Jupiter and when she opens her eyes to face him, he gains a sweat drop and is frozen into place.
Nephrite: “I’ve seen this look before.”
Jupiter unleashes her thunderbolt attack, decimating the evil bride and pushing back Nephrite who is just blocking the powerful lighting attack. He mutters her name before vanishing in an odd whirl wind. (Which makes me wonder if wind is his other power along with shadow?)
Act 5 gave us more insight into Nephrite then Act 3 did Jadeite. Nephrite isn’t as enigmatic as the other three Shitennou, and yet there’s so much of a mystery in his emotional view of things. It makes for a very compelling character and pushes him as having the most easily identifiable personality in the Shitennou. What really catches my attention, other than his comments on love, appearance, and the ignorance of humans, is the fact that a lot of his actions and choices centered around Makoto. He’s targeting her with Matoki, as Matoki outright says that he’s looking for her. We know that no other woman is being targeted by this, so what does that say about Nephrite as a person.
It seems to me that perhaps, when it comes to Nephrite, he likes to pick out people that he can play with. In this case he supposed that he could pay with Makoto due to the energy that she was giving off when they were at the bride’s window. However that doesn’t explain how he knew where to find Matoki, and knew to use him to target her. I have some deeper thoughts on that, but I want to share them more in a post about Makoto, Jupiter and Nephrite’s relationship. For now I’ll leave it at, it’s interesting that there is the possibility that both Jadeite and Nephrite were affected by their past memories and feelings subconsciously for the senshi that they were drawn to.
Act 6 is the last time we get to see Nephrite for a while until Act 9 and Act 10. While the scene is brief it does give one last bit of insight into Nephrite’s personality. We have Kunzite and Zoisite watching from the throne room and commenting on the state of the situation and seem to find it amusing. Beryl is not pleased and mentions that the Crystal belongs to the Dark Kingdom. It’s then that Nephrite appears before them, gaining looks of slight annoyance from Kunzite and Zoisite.
Nephrite: “Queen Beryl, please give me one more chance!”
A battered and bruised Nephrite is seen leaning on a column, vastly different then his earlier appearances looking cocky and confident. He’s practically begging to be given a second chance. Neither Zoisite nor Kunzite is impressed with this behavior, Zoisite choosing to voice his opinion.
Zoisite: “Nephrite. You underestimated the Sailor Guardians.”
Nephrite recalls the attack that ended up destroying his Youma and intends on getting payback on Jupiter for it.
Nephrite: “Sailor Jupiter…I won’t forgive you!”
After which Beryl allows Zoisite to handle the next scheme. What’s interesting here is that unlike Jadeite, Nephrite doesn’t take embarrassment or defeat easily. He growls his line, full of anger at losing and being embarrassed before Queen Beryl and the other Shitennou. Again, if this is a warped version of their true self, this means that Nephrite doesn’t like to lose, and when he does, he doesn’t enjoy licking his wounds and running away like a coward. The fact that he lost and that he’s not given a chance to redeem himself for the screw up is a slap in the face to him, and solidifies probably some fears of his own about his abilities.
Nephrite appears again far later in Act 9 when all the Shitennou are before the unconscious Mamoru who was taken by Kunzite and Beryl. Here Nephrite remarks regarding Jadeite’s memory.
Jadeite: “I think I’ve seen him some where before.”
Nephrite: “Jadeite, you too?”
This means that, like the others, Nephrite is sensing his memory coming back. Unlike Jadeite though, he chooses to only voice this opinion after someone else has stated that they felt it too.
In Act 10 the Shitennou Scooby gang decides to follow Beryl down to find out what’s really going on and discover the staircase leading to Queen Metalia’s chamber. Again Nephrite follows suit after Jadeite’s curiosity, which is interesting.
Jadeite: “I never knew there was a path deep down here.”
Nephrite: “Where does it lead?”
Heading down the stairs they stop at the door to the chamber where Jadeite questions if the thing in the room is their Great Ruler, while Nephrite makes a point about her appearance.
Nephrite: “She’s materialized that much?”
This is something that I had to think about for a moment. While it may seem like a throw-away line there’s something to consider. Beryl has been pushing them to gather more and more energy. The fact that Metalia is the size that she is already gave him pause. Prior to this they’ve been lead to believe that the Ruler is still very weak, or limited, but now seeing her he realizes that she’s a lot stronger than they first thought, and given what they know now, it seems like Nephrite is considering the reasons why that is and what that means about the level of energy that she needs to grow.
Moments later the foursome get blasted with memories from their past, something they were not expecting.
Nephrite: “What does this mean?”
The group has a shared memory experience where they are taken back to when they served the Prince and each identifies themselves and their role as his protector. Nephrite’s is very telling given his personality and behavior throughout the series thus far.
Nephrite: “Nephrite, Knight of Intelligence and Comfort.”
Now let’s talk a minute about this role. Nephrite doesn’t exactly ooze brainy character given his actions. Yet here he is as the Knight of Intelligence and Comfort, why, and how does this tie into who he is as a person. Well let’s consider what we’ve seen in the show. We know that as far as we’ve seen Nephrite has used a form of sneaky ploy over something big like Zoisite will and Kunzite later. Nor is he very patience as he doesn’t choose long plans. Yet he’s the first one to really knock down all the guardians and honestly nearly take down Makoto. He nearly got the treasure as well given it was only the fact that Rei sensed him that lead her to figure out who he was. So Nephrite is no slouch in the brains department. I can’t see him as a Strategos though; he’s far too emotionally invested in things. However he’s clever and witty and that needs a type of social expertise and intelligence. I don’t think the intelligence here is supposed to be the book type, rather it’s an overall intelligence that allows for a very wide view of things, both in book smarts and street smarts, something that Nephrite seems to have. The only thing that causes him trouble is his more emotional side, which is where the comfort factor comes in.
Early with Princess D we hear him tell her how he doesn’t care about her, and has her believe in her fears and doubts. Later he uses the same tactic on Makoto causing her to fall into a sense of sadness. If it’s true that the Shitennou are warped versions of their true self then this would mean that Nephrite is very good at getting people to believe in themselves. He speaks from what feels like experience and clearly has a greater understanding of emotions then the other Shitennou. It would seem to be, given his Charisma and confidence that he would be great as an advice giver to the young prince about emotional issues and getting him to see other people’s point of view along with how to talk to people and get them to listen.
While this is all happening the Shitennou memory blockage seems to be slipping.
Jadeite: “Is this a memory from our previous lives?”
Nephrite: “We were the Knights who served our master, the Prince of Earth Endymion.”
Unfortunately Beryl soon finds them in their hiding spot and the Knights face her head on about the whole messing with their minds to use them and Nephrite asks what the meaning of this was in the first place. Basically why she did what she did. Beryl proceeds to brainwash them again and sends them out to fight with the Senshi.
During this fight the Sailors get a memory back from the past where they see past moments of the Knights and learn they were in love with them. What’s interesting about this is that Nephrite is the only one looking away, as if in deep thought, lips turned down and rather melancholy looking. It’s the sort of look one might have if they are trying to come to terms with the loss of something or someone. Which could tie into the whole thing about love bringing about ruin to a person, or at least hint at what may have started that train of thought in Nephrite’s mind.
So what does this all tell us about Nephrite and his personality?
Nephrite General of the North American Division: With Nephrite we have a very different character on our hands as compared to the other Shitennou. Unlike the other members who keep themselves tightly guarded, Nephrite shows personality in spades if you know where to look, which may explain why he was chosen for his Knighthood, but we’ll get into that later down the line here.
To start with in Act 3 we get to see two sides of this character at once. When he comes into the room where Jadeite and Beryl are he introduces himself in a very blunt boisterous manner, commenting on how weak Jadeite is. Jadeite is none too pleased about his comments, even as Nephrite comes over and brags about how he not only will get more energy but get the crystal easily. The thing is, how much of this is played up before the Queen and how much of this is Nephrite really bragging. If you look at this through the shallow eye of Nephrite being a jack ass and trying to one up Jadeite for pleasing the Queen then you may fail to see something very subtle in this moment. That of Beryl forgetting that she’s about to punish Jadeite.
One could argue that Nephrite was doing this because he wanted to look good and that the sudden presence of him and Zoisite threw Beryl off. Or, what also comes to mind is that he did this deliberately to save Jadeite from whatever punishment was coming. It should be noted that the for all the dirty comments that the Shitennou crack at each other, none of them seem to be out of the way to actually harm or belittle the others. So what does that mean regarding this scene? To me it at least means that Nephrite still has worry or care over the younger two members. The look on Jadeite’s face shows that, if there is rivalry between these men, it’s along the lines of siblings. The question now to ask is, can they sense each other the same way Rei senses the Senshi and the other girls seem to feel a connection to one another. If that is the case then maybe they know when each other is in danger with their boss.
Which brings up the idea that, more than likely, Nephrite is looking out for his brother and doesn’t want him hurt. Which would explain his reasoning for showing up suddenly and acting like a jerk to Jadeite. It wasn’t just to rub it in his face that he screwed up, a bit of it was, but it was also a motivator and a means of blocking Beryl from issuing out her punishment. By using his charm he was able to not only give Jadeite a third chance, something he doesn’t get later in the series, but also it shows that he has the skills to force people to rethink their choices or get them off track so that they don’t recall what they were doing at the moment.
We also have to take into account his later appearance in Act 3 where he is telling Jadeite he’s too lenient. As I said above, Nephrite goes to deliberately talk to Jadeite about his behavior, something we don’t see the other two Shitennou doing. It seems like Nephrite is legitimately warning him about how to act, or at least that he shouldn’t take it easy on his plans. Even though Jadeite doesn’t seem to take the warning, one could say that Nephrite did attempt to do something that the others didn’t, and shows that there’s a connection between the calm and patience Jadeite, and the more reflexive and emotional Nephrite.
Speaking of plans, it’s interesting to note how different Nephrite thinks then Jadeite. Jadeite does things for the long haul, waiting, watching, plotting and planning. Nephrite seems to be out and out, dash and grab. He goes out of his way to pick plans that have the most emotional impact as well as the most resonance with the victims. If you look at his actions in Act 4 you get a sense how he thinks. He targets Princess D after finding out she has this treasure, assuming wrongly that it’s the crystal, and then using the form of an aid that she must feel close to. By doing this he allows her to connect to this Youma on an emotional scale, something the other Shitennou don’t try to do. During the events that follows Nephrite focuses on the manipulation of the Princess by playing into her fears of not being wanted or cared for. Which I think is part of his abilities as a Knight but the reverse of that.
I mentioned also that I supposed he was the Lancer of the group, and the sneaky guy. To me the idea of using emotional situations falls right into that. Whereas Kunzite and Ziosite go for the grand scale, Nephrite and Jadeite choose smaller things to attack first. With Nephrite this plays right into his Lancer role as the guy that plays off the more stoic leader in Kunzite. If we take this into play we can tell that Nephrite enjoys the whole idea of being sneaky and getting away with things. Which brings us to the later part of Act 4 where I mentioned that I felt Nephrite saw the whole thing as a game.
He enjoys playing with people, playing with emotions, and probably having a good time with others. He likes to brag, likes to think himself as the best and that he can’t fail. Yet despite the whole calm and cool attitude he shows there’s still a bit of worry and nervousness to him. It’s an interesting fact, that out of all the Shitennou, he constantly has his hand on his hip the most or has his arms crossed up against his chest. Hand on hip usually indicates that someone wants to feel bigger, stronger, and more powerful in a way. It’s a way to make him seem more intimidating and show off his confidence. On the other hand the arms crossed aspect of him shows that on the one hand when he’s with a group he feels more powerful and sure of himself, at the same time he’s casting judgment on the group. (I’ll probably go over this more in a post about all four of the guys as a whole.)
Act 5 tells us a hell of a lot about him, and probably has the most on one of the members as a character. Nephrite possesses a mannequin in a bridal shop, during the course of the episode while we follow Makoto and the other girls, there are moments that just stand out as odd. Why does the doll look so much like Makoto? How did Nephrite know to use Matoki to get to her? The brides attack is nearly the same as Makoto’s Hurricane attack, so what gives. And why is she the ONLY girl to get targeted by him?
What’s even more interesting is his lines about appearance, ignorance and how love is a weakness. The way he’s so vehement about it makes me think that there was issues in his past that lead him to believe this completely. It’s really in how he reacts to Makoto and his comments about how she was so easily fooled by the actions of the brainwashed Matoki, and later when she mentions the idea of being lied to about how Matoki felt about her he points out that there’s an obsession with the appearance of things, and how humans are ignorant of the true nature. It’s an odd line, one that, to me at least, signals that there’s more personal emotion behind this attack then Nephrite himself wants to believe.
It gets far worse when Sailor Moon gives her speech about believing in love and that there’s someone out there for everyone. Nephrite is furious! He wasn’t even this mad when the scouts stopped him with Princess D. The whole destined love hit a nerve, and he pretty much tells her to shut up. But not in those words exactly. Even when he’s facing Jupiter later, there’s a sense that he’s gearing up for a fight, as if he’s trying to not only fight her but that there’s anger in his very heart over something. The whole episode feels very personal in regard to Nephrite’s actions. None of the others, even Jadeite before, ever had this level of anger directed towards one scout.
After he gets away he wants yet another chance. He’s now bowing, or asking for forgiveness like Jadeite, he out right says to give him one more chance. No pleasantries, he’s pissed and wants another go. Even when Jadeite is thinking about his failure against Mars he’s not this vicious. Nephrite outright says, that he won’t forgive her. This is on a personal level for him.
Dark Kingdom Nephrite Personality: So what can we now say about Nephrite of the Dark Kingdom? If his true personality is warped from what it was, then his actions and body language speak hundreds of words. Nephrite isn’t a planner, or at least not in the same way Jadeite is. He’s shrewd and confident. He knows he can win, he wants to. He views everything as a game, until it becomes personal and that’s when the claws come out. During the whole of Act 3 we can tell that he cares about his brothers, we know that he at least worries about Jadeite being the weakest of the four and that he wants to see him at least be mindful of his actions.
However he is a boaster and a crafty person. He doesn’t just simply wish to win, he wants to win and have everyone know he won. The thing is that he’s also someone who uses emotions to his advantage, and seems to also know how to charm and use social graces to get what he desires. He doesn’t just attack, he lets the girls know they can try all they like, and he will do what he can to win. We also know that he seems to have a deep connection to the idea of love and that he views it as a weakness. As if to say that it’s the thing that can harm people the most. He derives pleasure from causing people to feel unwanted, and yet when confronted by the idea of love bringing ruin and having someone say “Okay Bring it!” he becomes angry and makes mistakes, as if a personal vendetta is surfacing.
We can also say he’s good at watching, and can read people quite well based on his interaction with Princess D.
Crystal Nephrite: Reversing this as per what his true nature would be, is interesting. He’s the Knight of Intelligence and comfort and that’s telling right there. On the intelligence factor we’re not talking just book wisdom, like Ami, we’re talking all over wisdom about people, society, and culture. How to act around people, understanding how the world works, as well as knowing things about dealing with others. Nephrite as per his true self is probably a very charming individual who on the outside seems like a carefree type that doesn’t have a lot going on for him outside of his looks. Yet he probably is one of the deepest emotionally of the four Shitennou. He shows this in his actions during act five when he talks of love being a weakness. This can only come from someone who has in the past loved very deeply and understands the pain that it can bring someone. He probably knows more about people’s emotional states and cares a great deal, as we see with Princess D. If you reverse what he says to her, and think about it, if he was his normal self. He would be telling her that they do care, that even if they act like they don’t, people do care about her. Her wellbeing is their priority and that if something were to happen to her they would be very upset.
This is partly why I think that as far as the whole issue of who Nephrite truly is he is the one that shows the most in story. There are clear moments when he’s worried about Jadeite in Act 3, we see that there’s something of his memories subconsciously there in the form of how the Ghost Bride looks as Makoto, to the fact that he targets only her, and how he uses Matoki to attack her with words of love. Every other victim is male, and this in itself at least tells me that feelings wise he’s probably someone who, once he becomes close to them, he’s probably not going to just easily break that bond. I can see him being a bit of a bragger, but not a terrible one. He uses this as a means of dealing with his own insecurities, and more than likely gets hurt when people only see his looks and not the intelligent or deep person he really is.
As for his role on the team both in the Past and Now…For the past I see him as the Face of the team. The one that everyone enjoys talking to. I can easily see him playing up the big brother role to the other younger Shitennou, and probably getting along well with all of them. Rubbing Jadeite for being so calm and easy going, probably trying to get his goat, while being respectful to Kunzite, and possibly getting into arguments with Zoisite regarding losses in games when they play. (I can see them playing a chess like game and Nephrite insisting on playing again and again, until Zoisite possibly lets him win one, just to get him to be quiet about it.) As the Lancer he acts as the guy that cuts through things, he uses his skills to go after those that could be used in battle and manipulates them to working on the Shitennous side. He’s also the guy that gives that advice, looking into the emotional situations of what sort of consequences would befall someone. I think he also probably is the one that the others come to when they need someone to just sit and listen to them. Someone who can probably cheer them up and tell them it will be okay. That’s what he’s good at, catching onto the emotional side of a problem and using his cultured self to fix it.
In modern times, it’s hard for me to say who he is. I would suspect someone that acts like him would probably be someone in a position where they feel confident. Possibly a first year college student that has a side job modeling or working on the radio. He strikes me as a bit of a social butterfly but not overly so. His role on the team, if they make it out, I can see as the advice giver and the spy. He’d probably be the one that tries to get people to talk, and play the good cop to Zoisite’s bad cop. With Mamoru I have no doubt that he’d fill the big brother role, while Kunzite is more the father figure to him in a lot of ways (or the Uncle figure). He’d probably also be the one that would be the most willing to go and just chill out with the girls at the arcade to get to know them as friends and help them out if they needed it. (I.e. if someone is bugging them in some way he’d be the most likely to do some intimidating with Makoto and Rei in getting them to back off.)
Aspects of him with Makoto and Jupiter in a non-romantic way: Nonromantic is a hard thing with these two given their personalities. Makoto and Jupiter strike me as the most likely after Venus to fall in love. But if I have to hazard a guess…with Jupiter it would be a friendship that bonded over the love of life in general. He, no doubt, saw her as both a competitive friend and one that could easily understand his nature. I could easily see past Jupiter working with him on gaining better understanding of why people may only see one side of him, and probably getting him to open up more about himself rather than play up a role. Again it’s rather hard as these two seem to be very much the emotional types so if it was only friendship then it would be a very deep kind that wasn’t just about hanging out. It would cut into both their natures as willing to fight and defend their beliefs.
As for Makoto, I can see him again being the brotherly type to her. He’d be there for her to help her deal with emotional issues, like her parent’s death and her romantic feelings for other guys. I do think that he’d probably get easily jealous of said potential partners for her, but I also see him giving her advice and training with her some of the time. I can also see them playing games of various natures because of how competitive he is and Makoto willingly hanging out due to the fact that while Nephrite is a cool guy, he’s also one that can be fun and deep all at the same time. So they can transition from laughing about something weird, to him complimenting her cooking, to having a heart to heart about love and nature in general. This is how I would see them interacting.