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, waiting for a new episode of Sailor Moon Crystal can 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.]
- Queen Beryl — The former Earth-woman is unrecognizable for the evil now living in her and manipulating her actions.
- Usagi “Chibi-Usa” Tsukino — Her entrance, toy gun and all, is one of the most memorable of the series. Mysterious Chibi-Usa may talk a big game, but her fear and confusion is palpable on the page.
- Prince Demande of the Dark Moon — Dapper and handsome at first glance, Demande’s true sinister nature unfolds slowly through the volume.
- Rubeus — As head henchman of sorts, Rubeus’s sole mission is to chase down the errant “rabbit” Chibi-Usa, and his methods cut down Sailor Moon’s team.
- Asanuma — Mamoru’s high school classmate is a jokester, but his observations of the girls are more insightful than one might think.
- Calaveras & the Spectre Sisters — The ladies parallel the senshi both in powers and aesthetics, but are not left to simply serve as foils to their “good” counterparts. Each has a story that plays out alongside the main plotlines.
- Wiseman — Underestimate this hooded figure to your own peril: He hides a secret that has the ability to either shatter or empower the Dark Moon group beyond their wildest dreams.
Volume 3: Sacrifices and Secrets
Shortly after the senshi realize the extent of the evil they are facing, Venus cries out “I can’t believe that fate chose to give you another life!” Her disbelief is understandable, given how Queen Serenity gave the last of her strength to ensure her daughter and friends could have a better life on Earth. Why bring back the evil that destroyed the Moon Kingdom? Perhaps Metallia is a representation of the capacity for chaos that lives in humanity. Metallia doesn’t change Beryl’s attitudes towards the Moon Kingdom. All she does is heighten the emotions and desires that were already part of the Earth woman. She deepens the bitterness that lives in Beryl, and it wouldn’t be difficult to give gentle nudges towards the destruction that Metallia craves. Where Usagi gives way, and accepts that she can’t control everything and everyone, Beryl loses herself.
Tied into the idea of finding one’s purpose is Venus’ realization that the power to save them is in Usagi herself. It is Usagi’s heart that powers the Silver Crystal, and even in death, the Crystal protects her. Venus chooses, as the rest of the senshi do, to believe in Usagi’s heart, sacrificing their lives to bring her back.
It’s a fantastic message, especially for young girls — they grow up constantly being pitted against one another, and then to see Usagi and her friends choose over and over again to protect and love each other? That kind of message sticks.
I talked a little bit in my Volume 2 post about the fact that despite the immense power of the Silver Crystal, Sailor Moon doesn’t destroy evil, but heals it. We see this again in Volume 3 in her battle cry:
She heals Mamoru’s blindness, both literally and figuratively, restoring his eyesight as well as memories of his past and present lives. We get a beautiful reunion, and the names that they use to address each other are telling of what their choice is: they call each other Usako and Mamo-chan, as opposed to Serenity and Endymion, and it’s because they love each other as they are. Whatever love was between their Silver Millennium selves can only enhance what they feel for each other in this lifetime. Happily, Mamoru gets to keep some of the powers Endymion held as Prince of Earth, and he uses that connection with the planet to locate the fallen senshi. It will be interesting to see if the new anime includes that aspect of Mamoru’s character, and how battles will unfold with that added power behind Sailor Moon.
The beginning of Act (10?) will be familiar to most anime viewers, though the anime does diverge from the manga’s plotline in several significant ways. Chibi-Usa is a polarizing character for many fans, and it is easy to assume that she is yet another evil entity with her demands for the Silver Crystal. But the manga does spend more time developing the connection that Usagi feels with the little girl, and the trust that forms between them is easier to see.
That trust is tested as first Rei, then Ami are kidnapped by the Spectre Sisters, as Usagi protects Chibi-Usa. With only Mako and Minako left to fight, the truth of Chibi-Usa’s identity becomes even more important, and while it might be obvious to some readers as soon as they spot her bunny-odango-ed hair, it will definitely surprise the group in the next volume.
Next time: Diamonds are most certainly NOT a Moon Princess’s best friend.