The second story arc’s villains prove to be far more competent than those in the first, as the ‘Black Moon’ saga continues.
Meanwhile, Sailor Moon and her remaining friends journey through time and space, meeting an exotic new scout along the way.
The Black Moon saga began in volume three, with a series of highly repetitive, though decently structured stories. That pattern carries on through the first chapter of volume four, but after that, the formula is disrupted, and the story takes on a more serial format.
One positive of the repetitive stories is that they each gave the spotlight to the other sailor scouts. Sailor Jupiter’s story, from this volume, is the best of the three, giving her a bit of a romantic subplot that ties in another recently ignored background character. Sailor Venus is shafted in this regard, as the formula changes before she gets her moment; but then, she had her own series.
The storyline that begins after the character spotlight chapters is a highpoint for the series thus far. It’s the first time that Naoko Takeuchi’s ambition has manifested on the page in a satisfying form. In the first story arc, we had a lot of interesting concepts, plot, and character development dumped on the page, as if Takeuchi had good ideas, but didn’t know what to do with them.
By contrast, the Black Moon saga is being laid out before us, piece by piece. Each revelation is given time to set in, and to effect the characters. The trade-off for this is a bit of melodrama, but nothing outrageous for a shojo manga.
The pacing and story telling are also much improved. I can actually tell what is going on from one moment to the next; not only in terms of action and plot, but also on a character level. Particularly with Usagi herself, as she will suffer some trauma, and that will effect her actions later on. It just dawned on me that the fact that I am making such a big deal out of basic character development and plot structure shows just how awkward the first three volumes were.
Anyways, the big issues I had with the series in its first few installments have mostly been addressed, and we now have a solid, satisfying book. It’s not genius, nor masterpiece, nor classic; but it’s entertaining in an unspectacular way.
Unlike volume three, I didn’t see any printing errors. They changed Jupiter’s attack name from ‘Spark Ring Wide Pressure,’ to ‘Sparkling Wide Pressure,’ which is the better translation. But it makes you wonder, how did professional translators manage to screw it up in the first place?