Sailor Moon is pretty big in North America and strangely it’s taken this long for someone to bring over the prequel, Codename: Sailor V. I’ve always been curious about it, so it’s nice to finally see just what happened with Minako before she joined the others in Sailor Moon.
Minako Aino was just a regular girl until a talking white cat named Artemis revealed to her that she is the chosen one to become Sailor V, champion of love and justice. While Minako isn’t quite thrilled with her new responsibility, she does a good job as Sailor V. Taking down agents of the Dark Agency by herself with only her athletic skills and crescent moon compact.
Artemis alludes that there is much more to the enemy which Minako fights, but neither he nor “Boss”, the voice from the transformation pen she is given, tell her much beyond that this group is alien and intends to invade Earth by brainwashing its people. So Minako continues to fight as Sailor V, earning herself a name and the notice of the police, all the while going to school and playing video games.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the Sailor V manga, but it definitely wasn’t this very lighthearted magical girl crime stopping schlick. Not to say Sailor V is bad, it’s not. I really enjoyed the volume. It’s just quite different in terms of tone from Sailor Moon. The tone of the first volume of the Sailor V manga more closely resembles the original 90s anime of Sailor Moon, which had more silly hijinks and the girls acting more immature. And the interesting thing is that the Sailor Venus that appears in Moon is quite the opposite of the Minako we see here. She’s somber and duty bound. This Minako is silly, childish, and willful; which both fascinates and worries me. I’m fascinated how this change will occur in the second and last volume, but also worried for that reason. Often leaving all the character development and story conclusion to the final volume leads to less than stellar results. Still this is Ms.Takeuchi who managed to maintain such a fast paced plot in Sailor Moon without it feeling too rushed, so I’m not too alarmed.
Although I have compared Sailor V to 90s Sailor Moon anime in terms of tone, I think Sailor V handles characterization a lot better for Minako than the anime ever did. Yes she chases after idols and crushes on boys easily, but there is so much more to her character than that. Sailor V’s Minako is also a capable and confident young lady. Unlike Usagi, who breaks down and cries when first faced with the enemy, Minako confidently kicks butt. And while at first (beginning of chapter 1) it felt like Minako was a bit too similar to Usagi; Ms.Takeuchi clearly distinguishes these two as two very different girls. Both of them are very optimistic and energetic girls, but Minako never doubts herself; she doesn’t back down from challenging boys to video games, and she speaks her mind. Usagi, on the other hand, is a bit more frail at the beginning. She often questions herself and her capabilities. She breaks down more easily and she lacks the strong competitive drive we see in Minako. In short, both girls are so interesting, and both have been obviously set up in a certain way as to enable Ms. Takeuchi to slowly grow them into stronger and more mature women further into their stories.
Some of the unique aspects of Sailor V that I enjoyed was the police interaction with Sailor V. That doesn’t happen in Moon and it is again probably due to the tone shift. But it does complement the more silly and fun tone of Sailor V quite well. I also enjoyed the cameos of Usagi, Naru, and Rei in chapter 6; plus the very subtle hints of what’s to come with Minako’s crush resembling a certain General and Minako’s subconscious already recognizing that resemblance. These small touches added nicely to the continuity. Minako and Artemis’ quite rocky beginning is also quite a treat to see.
I am curious about who the “Boss” that Minako and Artemis communicate with really is. Queen Serenity? Can’t be Luna cause she “awakened” later than Artemis and he was the one sending her info. This plus the looming character growth are making me quite anxious to start volume 2, so that impression should be too far behind!
PS – Did anyone else get Amano confused with Umino? I thought they were the same person/character up till chapter 5 when I realized they had different names.