Manga Rec #3: Codename: Sailor V by Takeuchi Naoko! Shoujo, SFF/action/dramedy. Originally collected in three volumes, Sailor V was later republished in two oversized volumes. Kodansha Comics has published both oversized volumes in North America (the first time Sailor V’s been made legally available in English in the USA, whoo!).
Sailor V is the predecessor (later retooled partway through its run to be a prequel) to Sailor Moon; it was published sporadically throughout Sailor Moon’s run, with the final chapter in Sailor V published after Sailor Moon ended. As such, it’s interesting to see how certain elements from Sailor V were copied over to Sailor Moon (Minako and Usagi have the same basic family and very similar friends), but how different they are from each other, too.
Sailor V stars Aino Minako, a cheerful, boy-crazy junior high athlete who leaps at the call (given to her by a talking white cat, naturally) to become a fashionable soldier of love and beauty. She loves video games and hates injustices and the opportunity to live out what seems to her to be a real life arcade game is 100% awesome. The first half of Sailor V is thus largely comedic and action-oriented, with a great deal of slapstick and romantic hijinks running through it. But as time goes by, Minako begins to realize being a soldier—even of love and beauty—isn’t the endless fun she thought it would be. The police are chasing after her, she doesn’t have much time for her friends, the bad guys she’s fighting are growing nastier, her cat keeps telling her there are bigger things at work here—bigger things she must do than just punish some jerks, the love she’s chasing after looks more and more like a desert mirage, and her own tragic past life is catching up with her.
While Sailor V is more overtly comedic than Sailor Moon, in a lot of ways it’s also bleaker; tragedy marks Sailor V deeper than it does its sister title. Minako must weigh personal aspirations against the sacrifices asked of her, love against duty, the life she wanted against the life she must assume. It’s sad, but sweet, too, and as Minako grows through her struggles and her sacrifices, she finds new purpose and another, more mature hope within her.
Sailor V is a wonderful complement to Sailor Moon, but it’s also a fabulous title in and of itself. I am really, really happy it’s finally been published in the USA! If you still aren’t ready to commit to the longer time and energy investment that is Sailor Moon, give Sailor V a shot first; see if you’re interested in this mythos. It’s worth it, I think!
More of all my feelings.