Breaking Into Manga: Sailor Moon Vol. 1

Ashley Dixon ’18/Emertainment Monthly Contributor

Sailor Moon Vol 1. Image Credit: TOKYOPOP

Story & Art: Naoko Takeuchi

Published in the US by: Kodansha Comics (2011), TOKYOPOP (1997)

Categories: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi,Shoujo, Supernatural

Chapters: 52

Status: Completed

Anime Adaptation: Yes

“In the name of the Moon, I’ll punish you!”

The Sailor Moon franchise is by far one of the most influential, and innovative manga and anime series of all time. This statement may cause a stir with some people, but the fact of the matter is that Sailor Moon has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, and continues to receive high readership to this day. This magical girl series was a leading cause for manga and anime to become a popular genre in the United States. It was also one of the first series to feature an all female lead cast who were allowed to find their femininity powerful. The manga is written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi. The art style is fun and entertaining, while featuring lots of sparkles, bubbles, and humor – the key to a great magical girl manga. Of course this aesthetic standard has exceptions, such as Madoka Magica (*tear*), but any fan of magical girl manga will feel a sense of nostalgia, and be instantly charmed by this manga.

The first volume starts with the main character, Usagi Tsukino, who introduces herself as a fourteen-year old middle schooler, who is a “bit” of a crybaby. A little before this, we see that Usagi has overslept (again), and now has to run in a frenzy in order to (maybe) make it to school on time.  On her way to school, she steps on a black cat with mysterious bandages on its forehead, which Usagi tears off to reveal a crescent shaped “bald-spot”. We soon find out that this mysterious cat is Luna, whose crescent mark allows her to talk to Usagi a few more pages into the manga. Luna tells her that she is glad that she has found Usagi, for she can now reveal that Usagi is the chosen one: She must become a Sailor Guardian in order to find the other Sailor Scouts, and the Moon Princess. Convinced that she is dreaming, we see Usagi yell “Moon Prism Power!” for the very first time to become Sailor Moon. The first section ends with Sailor Moon clumsily defeating her first enemy, a monster sent from the Dark Kingdom to find the Legendary Silver Crystal. We also see her first encounter with the tall, dark, and handsome Tuxedo Mask, who apparently showed up to save Usagi, but she was able to save herself!

The next two Acts of the Manga introduce Ami Mizuno, and Rei Hino – Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars. Warning to people who have only watched the original Sailor Moon anime: Sailor Mars’ personality may seem a little toned down and reserved, but she is still written to be fierce and dependable (Usagi’s polar opposite!). The strategy of breaking up the volumes in sections, or Acts, gives readers a chance to get to know each Sailor Scout, and learn more about their backstory before they transform and become Sailor Soldiers. Ami’s section allows audience’s to get to know the girl behind the highest test scores in the world, and readers learn about Rei as someone who puts up a brave front, but truly cares about the people around her.

Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars. Image Credit: TOKYOPOP/Kodansha

Act four can be considered a filler since we do not meet another Sailor Scout, but we do get to see the newfound Sailor trio fight altogether! We also get to see some more development in Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask’s romance. Some people might say that this part of the plot is unnecessary, or typical, but it is V cute in my opinion. But, in Act 5 we finally get to meet the fourth Sailor Scout: Makoto Kino! After saving Usagi from getting injured multiple times, we see that the tall girl with rumored Hercules strength is actually caring, a very good cook, and a force to be reckoned with when she transforms into Sailor Jupiter. During this Act, the stakes of the Manga get heightened, which some readers may think is “Too much, too fast”, since we still haven’t seen Usagi take her role as Sailor Moon as seriously as the other scouts.

The very last act of Sailor Moon volume one may be titled Tuxedo Mask, otherwise referred to as “When all hell breaks loose”. For anyone who ships Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, even a little bit, this section will keep you on the edge of your seat while you are reading it. Let’s just say, that the mysterious and handsome Tuxedo Mask may be an enemy to the Sailor Scouts. This may sound stressful, but you will not be disappointed after reading this final Act of Sailor Moon volume one!

All in all, any magical girl fan will enjoy the Sailor Moon manga. However, if you grew up watching the anime, you might miss the extreme silliness of Usagi, and Rei’s quick-temperedness. But you will be able to enjoy the obvious shade that Rei throws at Usagi’s unreliability. The manga so far seems much more straight to the point, which can also be a relief if fillers start to wear you out.

Usagi and Tuxedo Mask. Image Credit: TOKYOPOP/Kodansha

Sailor Moon is a great starting point to launch yourself into the world of Manga, so it is recommended to anyone interested in getting to know a new medium of entertainment. The bold and fabric-esque prints for the backgrounds of the panels make the manga entertaining not only to read, but entertaining to just look at. Even though the cover and artwork may seem frilly and delicate, you soon learn that the Sailor Scouts are much more than that. They kick butt WHILE being feminine, instead of trading it for masculinity. You will truly enjoy seeing females being their own heroes, and in this manga, three out of four of them do it well (so far). Manga Usagi seems to be definitely more composed, but it seems that she is more worrisome and fearful than her anime counterpart. Anime Usagi was definitely scared, but still jumped into battle anyway. The boldness of the characters are definitely on a lower scale in Sailor Moon volume one, but it does not shrink the character development one bit.

Having a whole Act focused on each Sailor Scout is pretty interesting, and you will enjoy getting to know the Sailor Senshi again. And anyone who isn’t familiar with Sailor Moon will love doing so for the first time!

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