Well, the Halloween manga review was rather grim and depressing. So, let’s lighten things up with something lighter, fluffier, but still genre – the Sailor Moon Manga.
Title: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon – Volume 1
Written & Illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi
Translated by William Flanagan
Published by Kodansha (Japan & USA)
Publication Date: September 2011
Usagi Tsukino is an ordinary middle school student – until she meets a talking cat named Luna who gives her the ability to become the magical girl Sailor Moon.
Sailor Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury are interesting and heroic characters who are competent in the use of their powers.
Usagi is whiny, obnoxious, and annoying. Were she meant to be the comic relief sidekick, I’d cut a little slack. However, she’s not – she’s the protagonist, whose name is on the book. So, I expect a little more from the character.
Originality: Sailor Moon owes a bunch to Go Nagai’s Cutey Honey. Not in terms of Nagai’s penchant for fanservice, but in terms of using her transformation abilities for fighting evil (as opposed to fixing her friend’s relationship problems like with earlier magical girls), as well as well as a penchant for dramatic poses, and justice speeches with catch-phrases. What Sailor Moon does differently is makes the magical series a team book. Earlier magical girl manga and TV shows had the main characters work alone, and by necessity, as if her identity was discovered her powers would no longer work. By being the first magical girl super-team, the fundamental dynamic of the series is changed. 5/6
Story: This volume is very episodic, with the Sailor Scouts basically going through one of Queen Nephrite’s Four Generals per chapter (with a couple exceptions). As with Magic Knight Rayearth (yeah, that link is to the anime, not the manga – bear with me), this leads to the generals not getting much development, in terms of their personality and preferred tactics (again, something fixed by the show – like with Rayearth). 4/6
Artwork: The artwork is a mixed bag. Characters are well designed, as are the backgrounds – when we get them. The problem is we don’t often get them. Often we get no backgrounds, which makes it difficult to really keep track of the scenes, geography of the locations, and camera angles. 3/6
Characterization: See the high and low points. 3/6
Emotional Response: The humor kind of works, but too much of it is tied to Sailor Moon being annoying, and the tension is taken from Sailor Moon forgetting to use her powers. 3/6
Flow: Tying in to the artwork problem, the panels aren’t laid out very well, and make it hard to track the flow of the action. 3/6
Overall: This is a ground-breaking manga, but it’s not without some real problems. That said, if you’re an old school anime fan looking to dip into a little bit of nostalgia, or someone interested in the evolution of the magical girl genre, it’s worth checking out. 3/6
In total, Sailor Moon Volume 1 gets 24/42.