Sailor Moon, Vol. 3
Sailor Moon, Vol. 3
by Naoko Takeuchi
Kodansha Comics, 248 pp
Rating: Teen (13+)
The third volume of Naoko Takeuchi’s shojo hit, Sailor Moon concludes the opening arc seeing our heroines facing off against the evil Queen Metalia! Secrets are revealed as the forces of good and evil clash with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance. Afterwards the Sailor Scouts find themselves up against a new threat with new mysteries and questions waiting to be answered.
We’re three volumes in and I beginning to think that this might be a rather uneven series. The first volume was all introductions, leading us to meet the various Sailor Scouts while finding out bits and pieces about them and their powers. The second volume was a massive info dump with huge amounts of background information, world building, setting up the conflict between Sailor Moon and the forces of Metalia and Beryl, and a heavy fleshing out of the romance between Usagi and Mamoru. This volume brings the opening arc to it’s conclusion but does so in such a way that undercuts much of the drama and the excitement of the story. It’s so compressed that moments which feel like they matter and should resonate fall a bit flat or are glossed over surprisingly quickly. Moments such as the Sailor Scouts sacrificing themselves or various fights and climactic scenes often take place over the course of a panel or two. This continues into the second arc which we’re thrown into head first, witnessing seemingly pointless attacks upon the Sailor Scouts by villains who are cyphers. While that’s not a huge issue, their motivations currently serve as a mystery hook for this arc, the reactions of the Sailor Scouts to all of it are virtually nonexistent! For example, Sailor Mars is kidnapped early on but the scouts express almost no worry or grief outside of an initial “She’s gone!” reaction. This rather large and major occurrence is almost glossed over and instead Sail Moon spends a large chunk of the story stressing over the arrival Chibi-Usa, a mysterious young girl who seems to have a connection to Usagi and who moves in with them. While it makes sense that that would be on her mind, you’d think she’d be more than a little worried about her friend being kidnapped and might comment on it a bit more. To make things even more bizarre almost no one but the Scouts seem to notice or care about Mars’ disappearance. Her classmates express some surprise that she’s been absent for a few days but there’s nothing about what her family is doing or anyone making any attempt to locate a missing teenager beyond the Scouts asking around. It makes the entire thing feel surreal and oddly empty, like the events are taking place in some kind of vacuum which doesn’t affect the world the story is set in.
Visually the book’s not really my cup of tea but it’s hard to deny Naoko Takeuchi’s skill in depicting and conveying emotional oomph. As I mentioned above her battle scenes tend to be hyper compressed to the point that they make old school superhero comics look positive languid in their pacing. It’s not just the pacing but the lack of clarity regarding what’s happening and where people are going or moving in relation to each other. On the other hand when it comes to the romance between Usagi and Mamoru she’s piles it on and turns up the volume to eleven. A kiss between the two at the end of the opening arc is given a gorgeous two page spread juxtaposing it against their previous lives as Endymion and Serenity. The whole moment hangs in the air wonderfully thanks to her use of toning, patterns, a lack of panel borders or backgrounds and more. The entire scene feels like the equivalent of two lovers running to each other at the climax of a Hollywood film.
I’m finding Sailor Moon to be a mixed bag and wonder if it’s due to the fact that I’m so far outside of the target audience for the book or whether it’s just not being as good as everyone’s made it out to be over the years. Still, while I can’t quite put my finger on it, though I’m leaning towards it’s importance in the American anime and manga scene, it is oddly compelling and I find myself wanting to give it at least one more volume.
Sailor Moon, vol. 3 is available now from Kodansha Comics.