Aino Minako was just a normal girl until a talking white cat named Artemis transformed her into the super heroine SailorV! Now Minako's duty is to fight evil, but with already having troubles in her love life and regular interests (not to mention her school work), what's a girl to do with so much responsibility? Everyone's always hearing about SailorV in Takeuchi Naoko's other series, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, so here's her story!
"Codename: Sailor V" is something of an oddity when it comes to the "Sailor Moon" franchise. Originally a sort of prototype to the "Sailor Moon" manga, it morphed into a side project of Naoko Takeuchi, and eventually ended as a prequel to the main series. And the weirdness doesn't stop there - not only has it never received an anime adaptation, but it also went unpublished in English for the longest time, only receiving an official translation 20 years after its original release in Japan. As a result, the only people who really talk about this manga are diehard Moonies - and, to be perfectly
honest, those are probably the only people who should be reading it.
It's hard to really talk about the story of "Codename: Sailor V" without bringing up its mother series. As mentioned before, this story is a prototype, side story, and prequel to "Sailor Moon" all at once, which makes the narrative kind of... Disjointed, to say the least. It starts out quite strong, with the first two chapters providing a bit of explanation for some of the plot elements that later showed up in "Sailor Moon". But after that, the story just devolved into a series of episodic fillers. The next three chapters were essentially the same story three times in a row, and nothing particularly important happens until the end of chapter 9 - and after being discussed in chapter 10, even that all but disappears, not to show up again until chapter 15.
Of course, this makes sense when you consider how "Sailor V" was published - although the first chapter came out before "Sailor Moon" began, the last one didn't come out until after the end of the Stars arc. Despite being much shorter than "Sailor Moon", it was only updated sporadically - I would imagine that, if you were reading these chapters as they were published, the episodic nature wouldn't be nearly as jarring as it is when it's being binge read in a book format. It's not to say that the story of "Sailor V" is horrible, though - just that, if you're hoping for a really interesting backstory for Minako, you might be disappointed, as there's nothing really in this manga that wasn't already alluded to in the main series.
That being said, "Sailor V" still has a lot going for it - namely, the characters and the humor. Minako made for a very entertaining protagonist - she was full of energy, and had a sort of attitude that other shoujo heroines seem to lack. Most of the humor stems from her interactions, whether it was with the antagonists, her many love interests, or Artemis. Artemis was amusing in his own right, though, being the exasperated straight man to all of her crazy antics. In a lot of ways, "Sailor V" was reminiscent of the early episodes of the 90's "Sailor Moon" anime - and that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're already a fan of Minako.
As a side note about the humor, I do feel it should be noted that, while this was a very comedic series, not all of the humor aged well. Aside from pop culture references that might need some explaining, there were also a few jokes that would probably not be considered PC by today's standards. Of course, you can't really hold modern standards to a manga published nearly 30 years ago, but it can be shocking if you're not expecting it.
Aside from Minako and Artemis, though, the rest of the cast was pretty lackluster. The most noteworthy character, of course, is Phantom Ace, but to be honest, I found him to be dull - probably due to how infrequently he actually appears. Actually, this problem could probably be attributed to most of the supporting cast. Natsuna and Wakagi, Minako's parents, and Hikaru are all characters that I found interesting, but didn't get nearly enough pagetime. Though, I do wish that we saw less of Amano - he was essentially Umino from "Sailor Moon", but much creepier.
Speaking of which, when reading "Sailor V", it's apparent that, while Naoko Takeuchi is good at designing protagonists and villains, she's... Not the best at designing supporting characters. When I say that Amano was essentially Umino, I meant it: the two of them are literally identical in design. Hikaru looks very similar to Ami (in black and white, anyway), Minako's father was indistinguishable from Usagi's father, and even Phantom Ace looked like Helios wearing a mask. I know it's probably petty for me to criticize the designs of minor characters, but it really made them forgettable, and serves to remind you that "Sailor V" really is just a side story to "Sailor Moon".
Other than that, though, the art quality is decent. The real strength is in the full color pictures - it's a shame that there weren't more of them. The art on pages featuring Sailor V giving her speeches, or Minako in one of her disguises was always a treat to look at, and some of the villains had great designs - my favorites were Petite Pandora and Nyan-Nyan. The only real complaint I had with the art was that there was always so much crammed onto one page, it would sometimes be hard to tell what, exactly, was going on.
Overall, I would say that "Sailor V" is a fun read for "Sailor Moon" fans, but probably won't appeal to someone who isn't already familiar with the rest of the franchise. I definitely think that it's best when read after the main series - although it comes first chronologically, it doesn't really have any crucial plot elements that make it required reading. But if you're a fan of Minako, and don't mind reading what is essentially a collection of filler episodes, then I definitely recommend picking this up.
Codename : Sailor V was originally written as a one shot in the summer season issue of RunRun by Naoko Takeuchi, most famously known for writing the series ' squeal, Sailor Moon. Shortly after, it began its serial run also in RunRun and was later complied into 3 volumes by Kodansha. As of 2011, Kodansha Comics USA has condensed those 3 volumes into 2 and released both in English.
The Sailor V serial focuses around Minako Aino, your typical Japanese middle schooler. She's somewhat lackadaisical, but is still free spirited and energetic. One day, she encounters a mysterious talking cat
named Artemis, who informs her of her powers and what her true purpose on Earth is. In the beginning of the manga, Minako doesn't really take her job as a sailor senshi seriously, but, by the end, she is a true hero. Personally, I loved how this manga develops Minako as a character. I find her to be extremely likable and fun to follow. By the end of the manga, I have to say that Minako is probably my favorite sailor senshi besides Sailor Moon herself.
As for the visuals of the manga, they are absolutely gorgeous. I'm a big fan of 90's manga with clean, thin lines. While the character design is rather simplistic, how Takeuchi draws each characters' expressions just breathes life into them. As an artist myself, I can really appreciate how beautiful each panel is. I hope that one day I can be as talented as Takeuchi-sensei.
Overall, I'd say that it's a wonderful and enjoyable read that any fan of the magical girl genre should have. I suggest to read it before diving into the Sailor Moon series, as it is set before it.
Currently, Codename : Sailor V is licences in English by Kodansha Comics USA and available for purchase.
This manga is the prequel to the all-famous franchise. Originally, it was supposed to be only a oneshot but Naoko decided to continue it as “Sailor Moon”.
But is it any good? Is it really worth the read to learn about Sailor Venus’s origins and why she managed to get Artemis?
Well, you won’t really miss much if you don’t. The manga was only supposed to be a oneshot after all, and it shows.
The battles itself are really episodic and really formulaic – Minako nearly falls into a villain’s trap where they’re to get human energy by manipulating means and she defeats them. Artemis tries to motivate
her and Minako is rather mean towards him and all the while trying her best to avoid responsibility. She doesn’t relate as well as Usagi would later but it’s still rather enjoyable as Minako and Usagi are pretty alike.
Boy-crazy, bad grades in school, a ton of friends, but Minako’s way more athletic and way more into idols than Usagi. Minako, at least, takes her job seriously by the end when her memories of the past returned to her and takes things better in stride.
When Artemis first shows up and gives Minako the power to become Sailor V, she just accepts it although she does say that she never said it was okay from time to time.
There is a sub-plot where the police wants to stop her from doing vigilante work (although, the superintendent general is a huge Sailor V fan and would rather recruit her) but it doesn’t really go anywhere other than mishaps here and there.
In the later chapters, they’re cast aside but Sailor V does join up in the end for part time, so I guess it worked for them in the end.
As for the art, it’s still very her unique style but there are a few problems in this manga, even though it’s an early work:
The character models look almost exactly like the Senshi (although they do appear here and there as a teaser of what’s to come) and other side characters from “Sailor Moon”.
Sometimes, Minako doesn’t even look like a middle school student (except for when she’s in disguise) – she either looks too old or too young. It’s rather jarring.
Scenes are a little hard to tell – when things are serious, it can take the reader out when there’s chibis and it’s hard to tell if there’s certain scenes meant to be taken seriously or not. It’s a little hard to understand what’s going on in between scenes and even pages because of how mixed up everything is.
The anatomy of the characters are off. Sometimes it just looks downright weird!
Granted, as mentioned before, this is her early work so hopefully it’s improved in her other manga. It is a little annoying, though, with all the side notes everywhere. Sometimes I would have to spend a little too much time on the page just to make sure I got every piece of text that’s on there. If there was a need for extra dialogue, though, it would have been better off using that for more exposition on Minako’s position.
For a prequel, it’s fine. It’s not really a must-read but if you’ve always wondered where Minako got her iconic red ribbon, how she became Sailor V, and to read some of her adventures, then it’s fun. It gets a little boring with the episodic fights and the clones of the “Sailor Moon” characters but if that doesn’t bother you at all, then sure – go right ahead and pick this up!
I would say that reading a lot of manga is boring and hard to get into, but since I watched Sailor Moon before reading Codename Sailor V, I had Minako's voice already in my head and her mannerisms were the same and really enjoyable for me. I have only read volume 1 so far and it is more story than fighting which I LOVE. Her character is charming and funny just like you'd expect! Great so far. Read this if you want to know Minako's story.
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