Fighting evil by moonlight? You’re not alone. Sailor Moon made history as one of the most popular shoujo (traditionally, manga and anime targeted towards a younger female audience) manga ever released, and 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the Senshi.
As a self-proclaimed Moonie, the three months of waiting for Sailor Moon Crystal seem agonizing, so what better way to spread out the excitement than to reread all twelve volumes of the manga? Read along, and share your thoughts!
[Scans read right → left, following the Japanese language format.]
- Aino Minako – Bright and vivacious Minako can also be deadly serious. Her determination to serve and protect her princess brings some morbid revelations about what, exactly, the girls’ past lives were like.
- Artemis – Partner to Luna and advisor to Minako, Artemis is less serious than Luna. His gentle and careful nature perfectly complements his charge.
- Metallia – Formless as she is, Metallia’s evil nature is still clear on the page, and her desire to gut Earth as thoroughly as she did the Moon Kingdom will challenge Usagi in unthinkable ways.
- Jadeite/Nephrite/Zoicite/Malachite – Their initial appearance as villains and Beryl’s henchmen hides the secret of their past connection to Mamoru.
Volume 2: Identity Crisis, Part 1
Act Seven jumps straight into the action, with the story moving much more quickly than in volume 1. The girls meet Sailor V, Aino Minako, who is a legend in her own right, and the revelation that she is the Moon Princess shakes up the group dynamics. It will likely be obvious to readers that this is a decoy plan, and a rather ingenious one. Neither the girls nor Luna know enough to see who Aino Minako really is, and it helps to keep them all safe.
Usagi’s quick character development in the manga may surprise readers familiar only with the anime—the latter stretched out Usagi’s growth with filler episodes and minor villains. This is not to say that one medium is better than the other, but the manga does speed everything up considerably. The Usagi we find in the manga is pensive and thoughtful after battles, very aware of both the connection between her and the other girls and between her and Mamoru. She may not understand what those connections really mean, or where they come from, but she is focused on finding out.
Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship is less heated fighting and more of an uncertain dance around each other. He is more approachable, and the age difference between their anime selves (19 years old to her 14) is less awkward (the manga has her at 14 and him at 17.) Hints of their past lives are scattered more generously, and even the characters comment on it. His kidnapping and brainwashing aren’t heartbreaking because of the love Serenity and Endymion shared—we can see how Usagi and Mamoru are drawn to each other simply as they are, and that they may not ever get the chance to be together.
On a lighter note, I mentioned my appreciation of the art for the girls’ hair in my post on Volume 1; Volume 2 highlights it again in how Usagi’s hair begins to grow even longer after the Silver Crystal is released. A girl’s hair tends to be seen as a symbol of her femininity, and Usagi is not just a girl as we find out in this volume, but a princess.
Long hair would have been inconvenient for a soldier—the senshi, in fact, do not fight in ways that require hand-to-hand close combat, but with magic that allows distance. But a princess, guarded as she would be, could have the luxury of growing out her hair. It is extremely important that we see Usagi continue to fight even as her body and mind grow to take in the physical and mental faculties of her past self, Princess Serenity, because she is not Princess Serenity. Long hair or not, prince by her side or not, she will continue to fight to protect the people she loves. She is Usagi Tsukino, and she is a soldier of love and justice.
Her attacks are reflections of her femininity, power, and approach to battle. She chooses to “heal” instead of contributing more violence and to return what has been taken away instead of destroying. This choice sets the stage for her first real encounter with Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom.
Next week: We head straight into the final battle between Beryl and Sailor Moon.