Many Americans got their first taste of anime through the television show Sailor Moon. Due to the popularity of the television show, the now defunct U.S. publishing division of Tokyopop released the manga in 1998 to American audiences. Over the past decade, the out-of-print English editions have been harder and harder to come by, due in part to their flimsy bindings. But in 2011, twenty years after creator Naoko Takeuchi debuted her magical girls in RunRun magazine, Kodansha comics have re-released the entire run of Sailor Moon in America, along with the previously unreleased prequel, Codename Sailor V.
Minako “Mina” Aino, is a Japanese schoolgirl who is bestowed with superpowers and fights evil as the masked vigilante Sailor Venus — Sailor V for short. Accompanying Mina on her adventures is her mentor Artemis a talking cat with white fur and a crescent-shaped bald spot on his forehead. Mina struggles with accepting her place as Sailor V, as well as Artemis’ expectations for her, when all she really wants to do is eat and play videogames.
Of course, being a true hero, Mina cannot sit by while people around her are suffering (or being mind-controlled, as is often the case in this version of Tokyo), so the only real threat to Mina is her lack of motivation.
Takeuchi’s panels are some of the most elegant and easy-to-follow I have read. Flowing hair, graceful skirts, and long, lean limbs are trademarks of her style. She emphasizes the intricate, and at times opposing, traits of Mina, by alternating between this flowing, graceful and feminine style with goofy, round chibis.
While Codename Sailor V, volume 1 was super cute and set up some of the major plot lines and themes that make Sailor Moon such as classic, I did long for the group dynamic that helped make the series so popular. Sailor V is not meant to fight on her own.