Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan In Sailor Moon
Anime Book Review
Brace yourself: enough time has passed that the kids who grew up watching anime like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z after school are now old enough to write post-college papers on them. Depending on what kind of experience you have with literary criticism, this could be a scary thought, but if Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon is any indication, this is actually a good thing.
This slender volume by Jay Navok and Sushil K. Rudranath (edited by Jonathan Mays) attempts to show how the 1992-1997 Sailor Moon manga and anime reflected its era, post-bubble Japan, and in that it succeeds admirably. You might not think of Sailor Moon as a show featuring scathing social commentary, but after reading the authors analysis of consistent plot points in the show like studying at cram schools and celebrity "idol" culture, it becomes clear that Sailor Moon was not only a product of its time, but had some things to say about it as well.
However, perhaps the best part of the book is the second chapter "Exploring the Sailor Moon Universe," which provides the real-life inspirations for many of the businesses, schools and other attractions featured in the show's fantasy version of Tokyo. The small black and white photos used to illustrate the section are nothing to get excited about, but even longtime SM fans may be surprised at just how many of the places the Sailor Senshi liked to hang out at really existed in the early '90s. As well as we know the franchise, we were surprised to find out just how much of manga artist Naoko Takeuchi's real life was infused into her work. Incidentally, the book reveals that Takeuchi majored in chemistry, so now you know where all those chemical terms in the mangas second arc come from.
The book isn't as polished as it could be. The organization seems kind of arbitrary: while it's separated into categories like "Culture and Lifestyle" and "Religion," it all kind of blurs together after a while. It may have made more sense to divide the book by character, with a chapter for each Senshi and Tuxedo Mask. Speaking of Mamoru, the book seems to be kind of at a loss for what to do with him; it establishes that he represents the rich, Tokyo elite but can't seem to find†much else to say about him. Such is the plight of the token male character.
Furthermore, it's a quick read, made even quicker by the authors decision to disregard the plots of seasons 4 and 5 of the anime (although anecdotes from both seasons are mentioned, so they don't completely ignore the latter half of the show.) Sometimes, it seems like rather than just showing how the franchise reflects Japan, the authors would have preferred to do some more general-purpose analysis; the parts about Sailor Venus seem to be stretching to accommodate things about the character that don't necessarily fit the theme. Of course, that's probably because they like Sailor Venus and wanted to put in more about her (which we approve of wholeheartedly!), but we kind of wish the book had been a bit less targeted on Japanese culture specifically. A more inclusive critical analysis of the show, featuring reflections of Japan as one area of interest among several, would have allowed for a longer, more satisfying book.
All that said, it's kind of a sellers market when it comes to scholarly anime criticism available in English. Whatever the books flaws, SM fans will definitely want to check it out for the second chapter alone, and other fans who may be curious as to why their favorite anime characters do some of the things they do may find it worthwhile. This book certainly whet our appetite for more anime analysis, so we hope more is coming soon. Hey, if you're a grad student scrounging around for a thesis topic, may we suggest a certain magical girl anime? Clearly, it's a topic that cries out for further scholarly attention.
Reviewed by Karen Gellender, October 2012
Codename Sailor V
Kodansha has been the fan pleaser for this year, with re-releasing the Sailor Moon series in its Japanese reissue entirety; it has also pleased English speaking fans greatly for releasing for the first time Codename Sailor V. This is reading that should be done before dipping your toes into the spin off world of Sailor Moon.
If you still continue to ask why or what's the point, then consider this an experience of meeting Minako Aino, the girl behind the mask of Sailor V. If you've seen the anime of Sailor Moon as a back story to Sailor Venus, then wipe your mental slate clean, since the anime is completely different from the manga. The manga came before the anime in this case. The graphic novel originally ran from 1991 to 1997 and was bound in three volumes; Kodansha has condensed it into two volumes.
Mina is quite the athlete and idol-chaser. She is chosen as a justice fighter by a talking white cat. With a transforming pen and disguise weapon Sailor V is similar in episodic plot to other Magical Girl heroine's series, like Saint Tail or Cutie Honey, but if you are familiar with the plot of Sailor Moon, then you get to see energy-sucking villains.
Codename Sailor V has a great deal of foreshadow to the events in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. There are not enough ways I can't help but recommend enough for readers or fans of this series to round out their experience with learning as much about the back stories of Sailor Soldiers. So if Codename Sailor V is considered the prequel of a very successful series, then wouldn't you want to learn about the origins?
Reviewed by Linda Yau, February 2012
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon
We're taking over this spot to announce that, after years of being out of print, Kodansha has re-issued Naoko Takeuchi's masterpiece Sailor Moon. Originally released in Japan in 1992, Sailor Moon came to the US in 1997 and follows the trials and tribulations of Usagi Tsukino -- a clutzy young girl who transforms into the super heroine Sailor Moon to combat evil and fight for love and justice -- in the name of the Moon and the mysterious Moon Princess.
Kodansha has taken the time to perform a stellar job on the manga -- the translation is dead-on accurate, the names have not been changed to protect the innocent, and there's plenty of never-before-seen-in-the-USA cover art, and translations notes to give you more behind the scenes information.
While the manga is quite different from what you may remember of the TV series, this is a plus, as you get to fall in love with these characters all over again as well as discover WHY this manga broke all sales records and spawned one of the most successful anime franchises of all time.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, November 2011
Manga Review for the Original TokyoPop Release
It is high time to relive the beauty and magic that is Sailor Moon, but this time, we get to really experience it where it all began... with the manga!
Like the popular anime, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the story of a young girl named Usagi who, with the guidance of a talking cat named Luna, becomes Sailormoon — a fighter for love and justice. Along the way, she is joined by nine other sailor soldiers to fulfill their destiny.
While the anime devolved into "monster of the episode" which essentially made Sailor Moon out to be Voltron but with Magical Girls, the manga is not nearly as redundant. Also be aware that the personalities here will be a little different, for example, Serena/Usagi isn't quite as much the ditz, here in the manga she's much more serious about her position as leader of the Sailor Scouts.
There are different power attacks that nere made it to the anime, and deeper, more insightful characterizations that the TV show just didn't have time for (and may have been a bit too hentai for TV (i.e. Uranus and Neptune).
While the manga is quite different, this is a plus, as you get to fall in love with these characters all over again as well as discover WHY this manga broke all sales records and spawned one of the most successful anime franchises of all time.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, May 2008
Sailor Moon Super S -
The Complete Series
Anime DVD Review
"In the name of the Moon, I shall punish you" - if you don't watch this super series! Available in its original, uncut story arc, Sailor Moon Super S, all 39 episodes in one super box set of 7 DVDs. For sailor Moon fans, this is a must-have.
Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (creator of Utena), this shoujo series has enchanted girls the world over with its empowered female leads and has enticed adolescent males with its long-legged super heroines in short school-girl skirts (Rei Hino.... Mmmmm.) Although the plot centers around annoying Chibi-Usa (Usagi's yet to be born daughter), there's plenty of Sailor Scout action for guys and gals to enjoy.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, September 2004
Sailor Moon - Season One
Complete and Uncut
(Japanese Language Edition)
Anime DVD Review
Drool, drool, pant, pant! The unreleased version of Sailor Moon is finally on our shores! If you thought the English-dubbed version of the show was cool, watch out! This complete and uncut version is darker, bloodier, and has many more plot twists than what was shown on American TV. Now find out *why* this show has the insane legion of fans it ardently deserves. Be prepared to laugh, be shocked and shed lots and lots of tears.
This boxed set contains all 46 episodes (some never aired in the US) of the show's first season, as a set of 8 DVDs (with optional English subtitles) packaged in a handsome foil-stamped art-box. Usagi never had a treatment so nice. In the name of the Moon, you shall buy this!
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, October 2003
Sailor Moon and The Scouts: Lunarock
Anime Soundtrack Review
Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Sailormoon has great music. Even the American adaptation had fantastic songs and inspired an audio CD. However, that first CD to come out from the American adaptation of Sailormoon didn't feature any of the Japanese music.
This new CD tailors more to the hardcore anime fan as it features two Japanese tracks, "Moonlight Densetsu," (the original Japanese opening theme song), and "Ai No Senshi" from Sailor Moon R. Of the five original American tunes, Sailor Moon (Jennifer Cihi) has another single, her peppy battle theme "The Power of Love" (definitely one of the best on the CD). Two other singles are Sailor Jupiter's "Daddy's Girl" (a gentle lament about growing up) and Sailor Mars's comforting "Nothing at All." The final two are the three Sailor Scouts' yeah-yeah trio about boys, "I Want Someone to Love," and Sailor Moon and Mars's musical spat, "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Clearly, the producers of Sailormoon are listening to the fan base by bringing us this new album that includes music from the original series. If you're a fan of Sailormoon this CD is a must-have. It's more balanced than the first CD, and gives you the added bonus of the two Japanese tracks. Who could ask for anything more?
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, May 2002