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.]
- Saphir – Diamond’s younger brother is a quieter presence than the rest of the Dark Moon Clan. His interest seems to lie solely in exploring the power of the Silver and Malefic Black Crystals.
- Death Phantom – A criminal with superhuman powers, responsible for destroying Crystal Tokyo. Neo-Queen Serenity exiles him to a distant planet called Nemesis instead of destroying him, a decision that will later haunt her.
Volume 5: Missed Connections
As the Dark Moon arc begins to rachet up to its climax, the parallels between Volume 3 and Volume 5 begin to emerge. The art itself is similarly dark, full of shadows creeping on the page. Takeuchi’s illustration of evil as a pure black void is particularly interesting, playing the idea of nothingness against Sailor Moon’s light. Sacrifices, both voluntary and involuntary, play pivotal roles in bringing about the end of Queen Beryl and Metalia. The senshi choose to place themselves in front of Usagi to protect her, and the connection she’s built with them doesn’t hold any resentment or regret.
Black Lady is not so selfless. I remember absolutely hating her when I was a kid, my view of the characters still very much black-and-white. Usagi and the senshi were good, and Black Lady wanted to destroy them; therefore, Black Lady was automatically evil. Part of that perspective may have been influenced by the dub, and the way that it played up conflicts without always capturing the nuances found in the manga. When I first read the manga back in 2006, I was stunned to find that I sympathized with Chibi-Usa and her loneliness. She wasn’t a squawking, difficult child. She was just a kid, a very lonely one, and Black Lady is just as much a product of that loneliness as it was Wiseman’s influence.
Despite the evil nature she adopts as Black Lady, I found it interesting that the manga never demonizes her. She’s still a young girl whose emotions have been heightened and warped, and her childhood is paralleled with Usagi’s. Where Usagi grew up with a warm and involved family, Chibi-Usa did not experience the same level of attention from her parents, through no fault of her own. Her resentment and young age prevent her from realizing that it isn’t Mamoru and the infinite power of the Crystal that make Usagi great. Chibi-Usa craves connection the most, and while Usagi/Neo-Queen Serenity recognize that too late, Sailor Pluto doesn’t make the same mistake.
I’ve seen pieces over the years that have claimed that Pluto would have been a better match for King Endymion, a better mother to Chibi-Usa, a better queen to her people. Some of the logic that has gone into those pieces hinges on the belief that Pluto is what Usagi should have been as a princess: elegant, soft-spoken, refined. Yes, Setsuna might fit the image of a princess, and yes, Neo-Queen Serenity might have forgotten parts of herself over the thousand years of ruling Crystal Tokyo.
I think that those things remind us that we change constantly over our lives, and the connections we make may not all last forever, but they can be invaluable at the right times. Serenity might not be exactly the kind of mother that Chibi-Usa wants her to be, but Pluto reminds the little girl how sacrifice and power intertwine, and it’s their connection that gives Chibi-Usa the strength to rid herself of Wiseman’s influence. It’s a sobering experience for both Usagi and Chibi-Usa, and it gives them the chance to decide what path to take together.
Next time: F is for friends who do stuff together, U is for ultimate annihilation, and N is for new senshi!