Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 1

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume One by Naoko Takeuchi

Sailor Moon is back in print! When I was reading these new editions from Kodansha I decided to start chronologically, so I read Sailor V first and Sailor Moon second. It is interesting seeing the contrasts in character present from the first few pages. In Sailor V, Mina gets in trouble for attempting a daring gymnastics move. In Sailor Moon, Usagi is running off to school with tears in her eyes from dismay at being late. Usagi is presented as the typical not very bright, somewhat ditsy shoujo heroine that most manga readers will be familiar with. But part of the reason why I like Sailor Moon so much is that Takeuchi does manage a couple subtle spins on the well-worn formula that she’s working with.

Usagi has a fateful encounter with a mysterious cat, then goes to school for a typical day. She gets punished and gossips with her classmates about Sailor V. She visits the jewelry store belonging to the family of her friend Naru. Outside, she throws one of her abysmal school papers into the face of a boy wearing a tuxedo and sunglasses. She thinks he’s a pretentious jerk for being so dressed up during the day, and he tells her to “study harder Miss bun-head!” IT IS TRUE LOVE! Later that evening the mysterious cat Luna visits Usagi and tells her that she’s been chosen to be a guardian. She gets her magical girl accessories and the phrase that triggers her transformation sequence (Moon Prism Power Make Up!) and she is off to fight the forces of evil at the jewelry store. This first chapter shows how Takeuchi’s storytelling has improved in contrast to Sailor V. By starting out with an enemy that could be directly hurting one of her friends, there’s more dramatic tension in Sailor Moon as opposed to the endless progression of pop idols that Sailor V fights. Of course, Usagi as Sailor Moon barely fights at all on her first outing. She halfway thinks that she’s dreaming and is surprised that she’s getting hurt, then she reacts to the fight by throwing a tearful temper tantrum. Fortunately her tiara boomerang vanquishes her enemy, and she finds out that she’s being watched by a mysterious man who introduces himself as Tuxedo Mask and says “Sailor Moon, I’ll certainly take note of you.”

Now that Usagi’s general situation is set up, she has to deal with Luna’s demands that she train and gather allies. There are other sailor scouts out there and Usagi has to collect them all (like Pokemon!) while struggling with her feelings for Tuxedo Mask and her own ineptitude. Usagi’s companions are generally in some way more capable than her, but you can see how their different personality traits would contribute to the formation of a good team. Sailor Mercury is a teen genius. Sailor Mars has the moral certainty of a shrine maiden. Sailor Jupiter is strong and brave. The sailor scouts are going after the “Legendary Silver Crystal”, as are their mystical enemies and Tuxedo Mask. Usagi is uncertain if Tuxedo Mask is an enemy or an ally, because while he certainly seems to appear often if she’s in the need of a rescue his motivations are unclear.

Takeuchi’s art seems to have grown a bit smoother when comparing Sailor Moon with Sailor V. The paneling is slightly more complex, although it is still a manga the focuses most on the faces of the characters without much attention paid on setting scenes or background images. The battles and team building in Sailor Moon seem to owe a lot to shonen manga, but being as girly as it is the battles involve costume changes and awesome battle cries instead of violence. While it might be pretty silly for girls to don sailor suits to fight evil, there’s a certain exuberant girl power vibe about the scenes when Sailor Moon and her allies line up to announce that their enemies are about to be punished. I do not know how it is possible not to love a manga that features a girl yelling “You will refrain from underestimating women! And with Mars Power, you will burn! These high-heeled legs will deliver your punishment!”

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  1. […] been Sailor Moon fever this month. Why shouldn’t I have Sailor Moon Reviews on this […]

  2. […] Anna at Manga Report I had forgotten how fast things move in the manga. Most of Western fandom is more familiar with the anime plotlines and pacing, where it’s a good 8 episodes before we even meet Ami. Here we’ve already got 4 of the 5 main senshi before the book is out, and the entirety of the first ‘arc’ will be finished by Volume 3. This is a pacey series, which does not have patience for long protracted battles the way shonen manga does. Sailor Moon’s battles are fairly perfunctory and noticeably lacking in awesome moves. How the villains die is not quite the issue here. However, this does allow the main plotline to become relevant, and there are no monsters of the week. […]

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