Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 1 - Naoko Takeuchi

Title: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Vol. 1
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA, 2011 (Paperback)
Length: 236 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Graphic Novel, Manga
Started: September 13, 2011
Finished: September 13, 2011

From Amazon.com:
Usagi Tsukino is a normal girl until she meets up with Luna, a talking cat, who tells her that she is Sailor Moon. As Sailor Moon, Usagi must fight evils and enforce justice, in the name of the Moon and the mysterious Moon Princess. She meets other girls destined to be Sailor Senshi (Sailor Scouts), and together, they fight the forces of evil!

This new edition of Sailor Moon will feature:

- An entirely new, incredibly accurate translation!
- Japanese-style, right-to-left reading!
- New cover art never before seen in the U.S.!
- The original Japanese character names!
- Detailed translation notes!

This version of Sailor Moon will be completely true to original. Join us as Sailor Moon returns to the U.S. for the first time in years!

Cheesy as this is, this was a must-buy for me. I was a huuuuuuuuge Sailor Moon fan when the show first came out (I was 12 then), and that was the first of many events that eventually led to a university degree in Japanese Studies and being fluent enough in Japanese to keep shelves of Japanese comics and novels that aren't there for show.

For those not familiar with the issues surrounding the Sailor Moon manga in North America (or if it was just before your time), I'll give you a quick synopsis (I'm assuming I don't actually need to summarize the plot of the manga itself, I'll let you find that on your own if need be).

The manga was created by Naoko Takeuchi in Japan in the early 1990s and ran until the series was completed in 1995, resulting in 18 volumes. The anime television show began in the middle of all that, ending in Japan in 1997 after the 5th season. Domestically, the television show first aired in 1995, with the English manga release soon following in 1997. However, North American licenses tried to make the show more marketable to younger viewers, so they had to amend and censor a lot of the show's mature content (turning the lesbian characters into 'kissing cousins'), and the same happened in the English language version of the manga. Plus this was back in the day when translators thought that North American readers couldn't handle the right-to-left format of Japanese comics or foreign names, so all the artwork was flipped and the characters' names were changed, and not in clean equivalent versions of their Japanese names either. Plus, English speaking viewers never got to see the final arc of the series (Sailor Stars) in the show due to the gender bending issues surrounding the Starlight characters, they figured once again that North American audiences couldn't handle some magical transvestite action. The Sailor Stars arc of the manga was eventually released in English, but I never read them before they went out of print (I had my Japanese copies by that point so I never bothered), so I don't know if the content of that arc was censored.

Anywhoo, moving on. In 2003 in Japan, the Sailor Moon franchise got a revival in the form of a live-action tv show called Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (previously called Pretty Soldier). The manga series was re-released at the same time into 12 condensed volumes (from the original 18), the artwork was cleaned up, new cover art was created, it was altogether a very nice release (I have the Japanese volumes sitting on my shelf now, they're quite pretty). Most people assumed that North America would never see a proper Sailor Moon translation after the English-language rights expired in 2005, but this release took me by surprise, I must say (in addition to the fact that the same company is releasing the Sailor V manga in English as well, the prequel to the Sailor Moon series).

This release is essentially identical to the Japanese re-release from 2003. The cover art is the same, volume for volume, the translation is spot-on to the original, we even get the colour pages included in the Japanese release (which manga readers know is something not guaranteed in English versions). The only thing not included in this release is the stickers that came in the Japanese first-press copies (granted, I figured we wouldn't be getting those). With that aside, anyone that was only familiar with the North American version of the series (television or print) will be a little shocked, this version of Sailor Moon is not intended for little kiddies. The translation has not been censored or dumbed down in any way, so even though this was a children's comic series in Japan (Japanese kids are given much more mature material than we give our kids of the same age), I wouldn't give it to anyone younger than 13 or so, especially given the darker content later in the series.

Not your mother's Sailor Moon, which in this case is a very good thing. True to the Japanese re-release, this is a translation that English-language fans can be proud of (plus they kept it pretty to boot). Again, not meant for little kids due to mature content (alternative lifestyles, sexual content, violence, etc.), but this'll be tame stuff to the average teenager.

Thoughts on the cover:
The overall presentation isn't as pleasing as the Japanese version (I'm just biased though, I like the look of the Japanese dust covers), but still quite nice. The cover image itself is identical to the Japanese cover, and from what I can tell, the rest of the volumes will follow suit (volume two is Sailor Mercury, 3 is Mars, 4 is Jupiter and so on). The English release cover is glossy plastic, so the colours aren't quite as soft as the Japanese matte cover.


  1. But when does the Sailor Moon Manga come to Cananda and when does it air on tv?!

  2. The manga's already available in Canada via Amazon.ca, Chapters/Indigo etc. Volume 3 just came out and Volume 4 is set to come out in March. The tv series I don't think will come back unless there's some serious tweaking with the licensing argreements.