Welcome to the inaugural edition of what will hopefully be the regularly running feature of the Article section Sequential Art Dyslexia. For those not in the know Sequential Art is a fancily sound term for Comics. Dyslexia refers to the fact that panel orientation is manga is reversed from regular comics. Besides read left to right is taken or is read right to left? Well anyway this is a manga review series.
Starting off is the recent release of series fondly remembered by many young women, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Now we’re all familiar with the anime adaptation which fell victim to be dubbed in the mid 90’s and having a monster of the week story structure. Well if you liked or hated the anime as a manga Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a very different entity.
A little searching around reveals the Sailor Moon manga and anime are a chicken or the egg scenario. The story of Sailor Moon as an anime was designed run alongside the manga with the first chapter of the manga released in Feb of 1992 and the anime premiering in March of 92. Those that have watched the anime will quickly feel that they are reading an abridged version of the anime. Many hit magna titles normally don’t hit their stride until the sometime after vol. 3. This manga reads very much like a manga tie in to an anime than being the actual material the anime is based on.
Characters are introduced very fast and within a few pages get their powers. Normally one would assume that sentai style heroes henshin devices give them the knowledge or have a mentor on hand to help. Sadly for our heroine Usagi this is not the case. She is saddled with Luna who seems to think she is dealing with a general savvy individual and sends Sailor Moon out to fight with little clue as to how her powers work.
Luna has to be the worst mentor ever. She only gives out vague information and is ill equipped to offer advice on the battlefield beyond how to transform. She does somehow manage to set up a base for the scouts inside the arcade. Just how does a magical talking cat do that without opposable thumbs? Maybe the Moon kingdom had great subcontractors that survived the fall.
Instead Sailor Moon gets most of her help in battle from Tuxedo Karmen. He does this despite having even less of a clue about how magical girl powers and no powers of his own. He is in fact a phantom thief as he’s looking for a jewel while wearing an outfit reminiscent of Arsène Lupin. The original character penned by Leblanc not Monkey Punch just to clarify. It’s not easy to actually rate his skills as a thief. He seems to have the entrance and exit parts down; just he never actually steals anything on panel. As noted earlier he’s often actually more help to Sailor moon that Luna is when Sailor Moon gets cornered or needs a confidence boost. He even in on chapter sees the villains up to no good and leads Sailor Moon right to them.
The rest of the scouts are introduced so fast you’ll get whiplash. We get the 4 of the 5 main girls all in the first six chapters. This is why it was mentioned earlier this volume felt like it was written as a tie in. it’s hard not to be disappointed reading this all at once in graphic novel format. The magazines that Codename Sailor V and Sailor moon ran in were bi monthly and monthly. The introductions of Mercury and Mars were quick in the anime as well but Jupiter came in and kicked off a mini arc with stronger enemies to fight.
This has to be the first coming across series that when comparing it to the anime one can forgive the anime for taking license with the plot. It seems that all the thought about the series went into the Anime and not the “source material”. In terms of story and pace Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is not going to impress the fringe fans or people who want to know what the big deal about sailor moon.
It’s selling nicely that’s true but that is because of nostalgia. Sailor Moon fans who have been waiting years for Toei to get in gear and license the anime in the English speaking world. Also reportedly the original graphic novel release in English hasn’t held up that well physically. There are some nice color pages and a decent glossary in the back.