Usagi Tsukino was just a typical school girl. She went to class (late every day), took tests (always failing), loved to shop, eat food, and play arcade games. One day, she comes across boys bullying a poor cat, and chases them away. She discovers this cat has a strange mark on its forehead a crescent moon! Later, Usagi is visited by that same cat. And this time it's talking! The cat is Luna, a member of the lost Moon Kingdom, and Usagi has been chosen to become the Guardian of the Moon: Sailor Moon!
Hello Readers! Because of the release of the reboot series: ‘Sailor Moon Crystal’, I’m taking a look at the manga that has inspired (now) 2 anime series, and became a classic among manga and anime in the US. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon!
This series goes by a couple of names in English and Japanese. It’s known as Sailor Moon, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Though after this I’ll just use the short version. Sailor Moon is the creation of Nakao Takeuchi, and was first published in the magazine Nakayoshi before the company Kodansha released it in its volumed forms. In America, the series was bought by Tokyo Pop, and has gone through several releases and re-releases. In 2003, there was even a release known as the ‘renewal’ edition, which had lots of corrections in dialogue and artwork, updated artwork, and other elements, including a restructure of the series. It even spawned a prequel called Codename: Sailor V!
Regardless of the release, some things remained the same. Now let’s have a look!
First the cover. We see the titular character, Sailor Moon, in her famous getup- a short skirted sailor uniform with red bow on her chest and at her back, blue skirt, scarf, and her long, flowy blonde pigtails. The letters are large and bold, as they should be.
The story is about Usagi Tsukino. She’s 14, and your average junior highschool girl. She goes to school, takes tests, eats, scopes out cute boys, plays games at her favorite arcade, and then goes home to eat so more, and fangirl on her favorite comic and movie hero, Sailor V. Usagi is content with this life (even though she’s always late for school and always failing tests). One day, as she’s running to get to school in time, she finds some boys torturing a poor black cat. She chases the boys away and sees that they’ve covered the cat’s head with a bandaid. She removes the bandaid and is surprised to find the cat has a crescent moon on its forhead. The cat runs away, and she shrugs the incident off. Later that evening, Usagi is visited by the very same cat, when it jumps in through her window! The cat then…starts talking. The cat is named Luna, an emissary of the lost, ancient Moon Kingdom. She has been searching for the destined guardian of the Moon, and believes she has found her in Usagi. Luna gives Usagi a special pendant, and tells her to hold the pendant up, and use the magic words: “Moon Prism Power Makeup!”
Usagi thinks she’s dreaming, so she goes along with the whole thing. And wouldn’t you know, she transforms, becoming instantly taller, her hair growing longer (and in some artwork turning white), and is in a very nice Sailor uniform and a golden tiara! They then rush to a disturbance occuring at the jewelry store owned by Usagi’s friend’s family. Turns out the store was infiltrated by a monster from the ‘Nega-verse’, with the intent to steal the energy (or life force, whichever translation you have) from people to send to its mistress, the evil Queen Beryl. Usagi gets a quick wake-up call that she’s NOT dreaming and in very real danger. But with Luna’s guidance (and help from the masked, top-hat wearing cutie Tuxedo Mask), Usagi manages to destroy the monster, and send the life-force back to all of the creature’s victims.
This series is WONDERFUL. My first encounter with it came with the anime, and I adored it to pieces, even after finding out that the company that owned the series at the time, DiC Entertainment, had taken a LOT of liberties and editing to the original Japanese format. Even so, when I was able to get hold of the manga, I read it with joy. There are a lot of differences in the manga and the anime series (and more still from the Japanese version to the American adaptation), but that’s not today. Today I’m just looking at the manga. Which is pure joy.
The series is huge, and it is long, but the shocking thing is that each series, which goes as Sailor Moon, Black Moon, Infinity, Dream, and Stars, can be read seperately, and due to the storytelling, you can never have read the stuff that came before and still know everything that’s going on. You have all of the major characters (and additions of new ones), and the adventures are a mix of comedy and brilliant action.
Speaking of characters, there are plenty. There’s the ‘Main Senshi’ or ‘Inner Senshi’ (The main cast of Guardians), which start with Sailor Moon, aka Usagi (Bunny in America, Serena in the English Anime). Then there’s Ami (Amy in American), who is studious and a genius, and Sailor Mercury. Sailor Mars, also called Rei (or Ray) who is a Shrine Maiden and lives with her grandfater. Sailor Jupiter is Makoto (aka Lita), and she’s a power house! But her strength is equal to her love of domestics. She bakes and she loves girly things! Finally there’s Minako (Mina), who is Sailor Venus! Venus was the first Sailor awoken and worked alone until the others were woken up, and she went to join them, along with her own lunar cat, Artemis.
The Sailors are protected, at first, by Tuxedo Mask, a handsom man wearing a tux and cape, who appears, gives sage wisdom (or helps fight off the beastie of the issue) and then vanishes away. Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars think he’s absolutely gorgeous and have many a fight about him.
The later characters who join include the Outer Senshi: Sailor Neptune, Sailor Uranus, and Sailor Pluto. With help of time travel, Usagi’s future daughter, Sailor Mini Moon (Chibi Usa, or Rini) joins the party, then in the ‘Stars’ series, they are joined further by the Sailor Stars: Star Healer (Yaten Kou), Star Fighter (Seiya Kou), and Star Maker (Taiki Kou). The Sailor Stars arc, sadly, didn’t get an an American release in the anime due to the fact that their civilian disguises were as men, but they became women when they transformed (in the manga, they were women who crossdressed as men).
Anyway, every character has their own personalities, their quirks, and their weaknesses. The stories are engaging, and as time went on, Takeuchi’s style tightened and improved. There was always something inherently feminine in the series, and it remains so even today.
I give this series 5 stars! Not only because it is a nostalgic favorite, but because it holds up even today. I’m excited for the new release of the reboot, AND for the re-release of the original anime! That’s right! Viz Media recently gained the rights to the original anime, and is not only releasing it subtitled, but redubbed! With a proper translation, a new cast, and a fully restored series (including Sailor Stars!) we’re going to get the full glory! If you’re impatient, though, pick up the mangas. You won’t regret it!
Do it! In the name of the Moon!