Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon vol. 1 – Naoko Takeuchi

A long anticipated reprinting of a shoujo hit, Sailor Moon, known as Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon in Japan, has finally been delivered to an eager North American audience. A manga filled with magical action and romance, Sailor Moon is sure to please long time fans and create a whole new following as well.

The Gist: Cry-baby middle schooler Usagi Tsukino rescues a stray cat from bullying. The next thing she knows, the cat, Luna, is talking and telling her she is one of the sacred moon guardians. Her task is to find her allies and protect the moon princess. Dumbfounded, Usagi is given the power to transform into Sailor Moon. She must then learn to use her powers to rescue her friends and fellow citizens from the dark enemies that seek the “Legendary Silver Crystal”. Along the way she discovers her allies in Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter, and has several encounters with a mystery man known as Tuxedo Mask.

Appearing in Volume 1 – Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon, Sailor, Mercury, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter

The Characters/Romance: I am a noob when it comes to Sailor Moon. There, I said it. I’ve never seen the anime and I was very skeptical about the manga thanks to all the hype and excitement. I couldn’t see the fascination with main characters who have these cheesy transformations. What I discovered as I plunged into the series was that despite the hokey transformations and powers – moon tiara boomerang? really? – the characters themselves are quite likeable.

Usagi doesn’t pretend that she is a strong super hero. She actually whines about being given such a heavy responsibility. A plucky girl, she’d rather be having fun than fighting evil. For instance, when the girls disguise themselves to attend a formal party on an espionage mission, Usagi wants to join in the party and have a dance while the rest of the guardians begin looking for clues. It makes sense that Takeuchi would choose the average girl as the main heroine, since most of the readers could relate to that.

Several of the other guardians are identified in this volume. Usagi’s schoolmate, Ami, or Sailor Mercury, falls into the category of quiet and intelligent. Rei, Sailor Mars, is the fiery spirited, independent child. Makoto, Sailor Jupiter, is the strong and courageous one.  A positive outcome of these characters is that Takeuchi personifies female strength not only to fight evil, but also as the bonds of friendship and love. An admirable message.

As for romance, Takeuchi delivers that with finesse as she intertwines the characters of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask with their recurring encounters. There is mystery left in the plot as Luna tries to determine if Tuxedo Mask is an ally or an enemy. Takeuchi leaves hints that there is a back story to the connection between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask that includes a love from the past.

Decorative toning and boxy paneling as well as crammed dialogue make the pages appear too busy.

The Art: Seriously, I can’t stand the busy look of the tones and patterns in this older series. I know it was the style for the time, but it drives me nuts. The paneling is boxy and dialogue bubbles tend to be more decorative. There’s also a lot of distracting tone patterns that are used as background or accenting. Aside from that, the character designs are amusing as well as impressive. Takeuchi has a good grasp of anatomy and expression. There are a lot of action sequences in this series that transition well and are easy to follow. The colored pieces are very vivid in color, with the look of watercolors. I especially like the chapter headers in this volume. The English translation was well done with one minor editing error. The volume itself comes with a color insert for the first chapter header and beginning panels. I also found the editor’s notes at the back interesting to read and I’m glad they were included.

The Audience: This romantic action story is perfect for teen and tween. A whole new generation of Sailor Moon fans will be born!

The  Media: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon vol. 1 is available in North America from Kodansha Comics. Volume 2 is set to be released on November 17th. Concurrently being released is the prequel of the series Sailor Moon: Codename Sailor V. The original Sailor Moon anime produced by Toei Animation consists of 200 episodes.  I went looking for the anime online just to see what it looked like, and I must say that the English version is horrid. <Sorry if you loved it as a kid!> I really hope that Toei will consider doing an authentic sub of the original series and release it in region 1.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥ Highly recommend for all shoujo fans!

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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