Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

When I was in middle school, the same story that started the modern boom of magical girl anime was also the one to bring shoujo anime to the primetime in the US:  thousands of girls across the county were falling in love with Sailor Moon as it aired on Cartoon Network.

Not me.  My family didn’t have cable TV.

Instead, I was watching Cardcaptors on KidsWB.  While it was a crappy dub, Cardcaptor Sakura is to this day my favorite anime/manga.  I understand that many girls my age feel this way about Sailor Moon.

I’ve still only seen a few episodes of the anime here and there (yay for Toonami Aftermath).  But I recently discovered that my library has the newly re-released manga, so I figured it was long overdue.

Guess what?  I’m totally hooked.  Sailor Moon is so much fun to read.  Interesting and varied characters, plenty of laughs, romance, and lots of action.  Lovely artwork, too.   I’ve read through all nine published volumes now;  the last 3 will be out before the year is up.

It has a totally different feel from Cardcaptor Sakura (it is inevitable that I’d compare the two).  The pacing is so much faster.  Both series have 12 volumes–Sailor Moon manages to fit in FIVE story arcs where CCS has only two.  Compare the two samples below:

The Sailor Moon page has a lot more text bubbles and figures and stuff.  The CCS page has a lot more open space and feels much more relaxed.  And these pages above aren’t even from battle scenes, which tend to be even more jam-packed.   Sailor Moon is non-stop action, while CCS even takes time in the middle of a battle for a beautiful, simple two page spread:

Sakura changes the Fly Card

Sailor Moon’s fast pacing is part of what makes it so fun, but I think it also sacrifices a little in the way of character development.  I was pleasantly surprised that Volume 9 focused mostly on the other various Sailor Scouts (or “Guardians” as they are termed in this edition).  I always think the side characters make or break a story, and I love all the Senshi!  Especially Ami, who’s most like me.  And Rei, whom I wish I were like.  And Minako, who’s just so darn kawaii! (more about her in a sec) Many of the enemies are pretty flat, but at least they have cool names, some even scientific in origin (the author studied chemistry).

These current versions of the manga seem well done, with original names, honorifics, and SFX in katakana with translations.  There are a few minor issues, typos, etc.  The surnames of the Outer Senshi are a little oddly romanized as Ten’ô, Kaiô, etc.; these symbols mean nothing to the average reader, making them more confusing than helpful.  But there are very good translation notes in most volumes, which I always love.

Along with these new editions, Kodansha has also published the companion series “Codename: Sailor V” (in two volumes) for the first time in the US.  A kind of a prequel, it focuses on Mina as Sailor Venus, acting solo as a crimefighter in the days before the other Sailor Guardians awaken; the author conceived the idea for the Sailor Moon series while writing this.  It has much more of a “villain of the week” flavor, less epic than Sailor Moon, and seems a little more shoujo, maybe just because Mina is a very girly-girl.  The artwork is still great (same style as Sailor Moon), and there is plenty of action, romance, and humor.   This is absolutely a must-read for Sailor Moon fans…the other Guardians even get cameos!

And if all this isn’t great enough, there’s still more to look forward to: Kodansha will also be releasing the first of 2 Sailor Moon Short Stories later this year.

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