Manga

Moonie Musings: Revisiting the Sailor Moon Manga (Volume 4)

pretty guardian sailor moon volume 4 coverFighting 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.]

Character Introductions

  • Asanuma — A junior to Mamoru’s senior, he follows Mamoru around adoringly and befriends Makoto.
  • Sailor Pluto — The statuesque Setsuna guards the Time Gate, a lonely job save for her interactions with Chibi-Usa.

Volume 4: A Bit of a Mind Flip and Into the Time Slip

sailormoon scan vol 4-1With two senshi in the hands of the Black Moon Clan, Usagi’s fight against them inversely mirrors her previous encounter with Queen Beryl and Metallia, backed as it was by her friends. The collective strength she’s grown to rely on dwindles, and there are only more questions to answer with each day that passes. Why is the Black Moon so set against the White Moon? What is Prince Diamond’s motive? Why is Chibi-Usa their target? Who is that hooded figure advising the BMC?

We get a pretty creepy answer to the second question in Act 17, as Diamond commands his team to leave his presence. He calls up a hologram of a woman resembling Queen Serenity, but a closer look shows that it’s actually an older Usagi in queenly garb. “My desires … will all fall into my hand,” he whispers, and with one line, Diamond takes the “Skeeviest Dude in the Known Galaxy” Award.

Interestingly enough, the next page features Usagi and Mamoru in a rather domestic moment, with Mamoru trying to fix Chiba-Usa’s toy Luna-P. There’s a sense of security and trust in the way they talk to each other, a mutual support that’s palpable on the page. It’s a great lead-in to the plotline between Makoto and Asanuma, Mamoru’s classmate, who offers to take her to the pharmacy. He asks her for the truth about what she’s feeling, and in a surprising twist, she tells him a little bit about her powers as Jupiter, and even about Mamoru’s psychometry.

sailormoon scan vol 4-2

It seems like common sense to most people that superpowers should be kept secret, so it’s infinitely fascinating to me that Mako chooses to tell Asanuma the truth when asked, and that Motoki is aware of the secret area beneath the arcade. The senshi trust the people in their lives to be good people, and while that carries risks, it is pretty great when they prove to be worthy of that trust. Mamoru’s choice to hold onto the gemstones that contain his Shittenou’s souls is a great example–the four former guardians continue to advise and help their Prince when needed, and they don’t tell him to save her himself. They encourage him to be strong and support her, further driving the point home that girls can and do save themselves everyday.

Speaking of girls rocking big decisions, Act 19 contains that oft-mentioned sex scene between Usagi and Mamoru on the kitchen floor. While Takeuchi doesn’t illustrate the details of their first time, panels before (a sweet kiss on the floor) and after (with Usagi donning Mamoru’s shirt over her dress the next morning) allude to it. Young girls reading it get a pretty amazing portrayal of consensual and committed sexual relations, and it’s not a big issue nor is it condemned by any of the other characters. It was a mutual decision, and right for them at that point in their relationship.

sailormoon scan vol 4-3We do get a bit of a rush into a possible future for that relationship on their trip to the 30th century. Crystal Tokyo is not the shining utopia Mamoru’s glimpsed in his visions, but a destroyed city, and a battle with Esmeraude nearly destroys Usagi, Mamoru and Chibi-Usa before they are saved by a mysterious tuxedo-clad figure. King Endymion’s holographic self is probably the least shocking thing the twosome encounter, as the giant crystal structure they find is revealed to be the only thing protecting Usagi’s future self, Neo-Queen Serenity.

Oh, and Chibi-Usa is their daughter.

All bombshells, true, but Usagi and Mamoru don’t get a whole lot of time to process any of this before Diamond kidnaps her. I remember being a kid and feeling very disturbed watching this unfold in the anime, even though there was more of a focus on the power Diamond wants, and not the lust. In his eyes, Usagi is a vessel to be used for the power she contains, and a symbol of the power Diamond would be able to wield. More so than Beryl, Diamond fails to understand that Usagi is as much a part of the Silver Crystal as it is a part of her. The brute force he exerts proves this, and ensures that he will never be able to control that power, just like he has no chance at controlling Usagi’s heart. It isn’t an easy look at how “love” can be warped into something hideous, and the end of Act 21 foreshadows more to come, as a lonely Chibi-Usa leaves with the mysterious hooded figure.

Next time: One Lady, Two Ladies, Small Lady, Black Lady…