Manga-ka: Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2012
Synopsis: “Just when all seems well again in the world, another enemy appears! Two new figures from the private school, Mugen Academe, appear and take a special interest in Sailor Moon and company. Who are they, and do they have anything to do with the strange occurrences that are suddenly taking place? Meanwhile, the appearance of two new Guardians takes everyone by surprise as our favorite Sailor heroes must once again face off against new enemies to save the world!”
Back in my Year in Review posting, I mentioned that I hadn’t started reading the re-release of Sailor Moon. Since then, I have rectified this most terrible of errors and have actually managed to catch up with the series, at least until the imminent release of volume seven. But better late than never, right?
A brief disclaimer: I grew up watching Sailor Moon and consider myself in that anime ‘generation’. However, I will do my best to avoid comparing the manga with the anime too much but it does shape my frame of reference for the series. Also I am so excited about the new anime next summer! Anyway, on with the review …
This volume is all about introductions and buildup, something which greatly excited me because up to this point, the manga’s pacing had been extremely fast. This speed at which the plot unfurled led to the supporting cast being quite underdeveloped. While this is still the case for the main four supporting guardians, time has allowed their personalities a bit more of a chance to shine, in particular during points where we get to see them going on individual missions. They are still fairly flat on the whole, but this volume went a long to way to at least makie the characters become less interchangeable.
The change in pacing also helped in the development of other new faces. A slower buildup creates a real sense of foreboding about the new villains, the Death Busters, who actually feel like a greater threat than those faced before. While they still have a lot of silliness (including actually having video game-like levels for each of the members), the group also seems to have greater complexity in their motivations than any of the previous “Big Bads.”
However, the heart of this new arc really is the introduction of the three new human characters: Michiru, Haruka, and Hotaru. A great deal of time is spent building up mystery around them, leaving Sailor Moon & co very unsure about whether the have found new allies, enemies, or something else altogether. With Haruka and Michiru in particular some interesting choices are made, especially with issues of gender. I can’t go further without volume-specific spoilers, but I did find the message to be an interesting one and more thought-provoking than Sailor Moon typically gets.
There are some moments where this volume isn’t as strong, notably the often grating relationship between Usagi and Chibi-Usa, but all and all I consider it the strongest volume of the series so far. There are some amazing moments of genuine emotion between the characters, often romantic but not always, as the Guardians come together to celebrate Rei’s birthday as well as show a great protectiveness of their princess.
Kodansha’s release of Sailor Moon continues to be amazing, with full colour pages and some of the best translation notes I have read. I really do have to consider this series a must-have for anyone who loves magical girl manga/anime (and even people who don’t).