Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
Usagi Tsukino is the generic manga ditzy heroine. She’s lazy, stupid, and falls in love with any pretty boy that passes through her field of vision. One day, a magical cat from the moon tracks her down and bestows on her powers that she frankly doesn’t deserve.
Sailor Moon hit the American airwaves in the mid-’90s, and was a large contributor to the anime boom that finished off the decade. The manga was later licensed by Mixx-zine, the precursor to TokyoPop, who did a famously awful job with the adaptation. Both versions went out of print and the series has been in a sort of limbo ever since, the rumor being that the series’ creator, Naoko Takeuchi, is preventing its re-release.
But now the series is back, at least in manga form, from Kodansha Comics, the American branch of Sailor Moon’s original Japanese publisher. This adaptation far exceeds the first attempt, all the characters retain their original Japanese names (the first attempt to release this series had all the names changed to coincide with the English version of the anime series). Sound effects are left alone with little translations underneath them, which I personally find unnecessary, since knowing that a certain sound effect says ‘gwoogh’ adds nothing to my enjoyment or understanding.
The series itself is not as good as its large fan base would indicate. The characters are overly simply; Usagi is a cliche, Ami is the smart one, Rei is aloof, Mako is tough, and ‘the enemy’ is plotting to take over the world. Takeuchi’s art is whispy, and pretty for the most part, but it makes the action scenes hard to follow, as things quickly devolve into a mess of wavy lines.
The pacing is a little jumpy, fights with the enemy (that’s what they call them, by the way) suddenly pop up out of nowhere, and end just as abruptly, preventing any tension or sense of danger to develop. A lot of the conflicts in the series are solved by Deus ex Luna, as the talking cat always seems to give Sailor Moon some new piece of equipment that just happens to be what she needs to win the next battle.
Usagi has been nursing a crush on the boy that works at the game center she frequents. He’s nice, but somewhat patronizing. She soon meets Mamoru, who is arrogant and somewhat insulting to her, but as a result seems to treat her as more of an equal, like someone who doesn’t need to be coddled or protected.
Of course, Mamoru is actually Tuxedo Mask, the masked, Lupin-like hero who sweeps in at the last minute to save Sailor Moon every time she needs saving. Usagi instantly falls in love with him. Partially because he’s her knight, and also because she senses some lost connection with him.
There’s a decent mythology starting to build in this first volume. I’m left wanting to know more, so I guess it works. The characters are pleasant, but insubstantial. If you’re looking for epic battles, you’ll be disappointed; but this is, after all, a shojo (girls’) manga, and the emphasis is on relationships.