In all my many, many, many posts about the Sailor Moon franchise, I have never before reviewed any of the manga or anime from the second arc of the series, the Black Moon arc – colloquially referred to by fans who remember the original anime as the ‘R’ season.
But, because this newest edition of the manga is a “Perfect Edition” and it is therefore unlikely to undergo any changes after, I feel as if I ought to at least comment. Before I get to the meat of the series, first of all, many thanks to Okazu Superhero Jye N. for sponsoring today’s review of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Manga, Perfect Edition, Volume 3 and Volume 4 (美少女戦士セーラームーン)!
After the chaos of the first arc of the manga, in which 4 teenaged girls and one boy suddenly realize they have past lives, magical powers and destinies that come with karmic bonds, and who are suddenly tossed into a battle to protect Earth from a malevolent energy sucking being, they have about a page or two of relax and refresh time before something even stranger pops up. As Usagi and Mamoru kiss, a small child falls from the sky onto their heads, pulls out a gun and demands Usagi hand over the Legendary Silver Crystal.
Where the first arc is filled with the phantoms of the past, their past lives, past roles and past loves, the second arc is rooted in the future. A future that is likely to be destroyed, before they ever have a chance to live it.
My dislike of Chibi-Usa is contingent upon two unrelated things. The first, and most pressing is my general dislike of children. ^_^ The second is entirely due to the excellent voice acting skill of Araki Kae, whose characterization was the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. (Not that Araki-san’s voice was bad, just that all the whining was excruciating.)
And so, I have never reviewed the ‘R’ arc. There is no overt Yuri, although some fans more dedicated or desperate than myself have created elaborate tales around Sailor Pluto and Chibi-Usa, but then they also wrote stories about Sailor Pluto and King Endymion, and who am I to wag my finger at absurd fan pairings? ^_^
Two key things happen in this second arc – the rest of the Inner Senshi are basically sidelined for the story, as it revolves around new characters – Chibi-Usa, and the Mamoru and Usagi of the future, King Endymion and Neo-Queen Serenity on our side and the next set of gem-themed baddies; Rubeus, Emeraude, Safir and, amusingly for English readers, Prince Demando. This trend will sadly continue for the rest of the series, until well into the next to last arc.
Secondly, we meet the first ‘Outer Senshi’, Sailor Pluto, who is originally drawn to be quite young, but sort of ages as the series goes on. Intentionally? It’s hard to tell.
After Crystal Tokyo is restored (we weren’t worried, right? This series is 20 years old. I declare it a “there can be no spoilers, it’s 20 freaking years old” zone) we find ourselves at what is actually my favorite of all the short stories in the series – and a moment when I completely lost my mind. The story follows Chibi-Usa at Earth school, making friends, meeting a vampire, then eventually defeating her with garlic breath. It’s really quite fun. But that was not what made me lose my mind.
I turned to the first page of the short story and suddenly realized that it was all in Japanese. “Man, people are gonna be pissed.” I thought, for some reason thinking that it was the English language edition I was reading. I totally fugued for about ten solid minutes until I suddenly realized that, duh, no, it was supposed to be in Japanese. ^_^;
The final story is a tale about Rei, that is ambiguously empowering. She really doesn’t need a man, but is still not quite sure of it for herself. The pressure to want to be desirable actually cause a lot of woe for real girls, so in a sense I’m glad Rei has strength to put that fantasy aside, but kind of not glad that it’s an all or nothing for her. Ambiguously empowering lessons ahoy.
My last lingering thought on this arc before I never think about it again, was Prince Demando talked a lot, but wasn’t really a good leader, and that Big Bosses that are black masses with eyes are getting tired and oh, Jupiter is sucking on a Pocky, not a cigarette, in case you were wondering. ^_^
Art – 8 I think the larger format and higher quality repro work well for the art
Story – 7 It’s magical girls vs mooks, bosses and big boss, with lots of trage-romance thrown in. And Chibi-Usa.
Characters – 7 I still wish the Inners had more of a role than being disappeared, but Sailor Pluto. (Seriously, Senshi of Time but she can’t use it for anything, bleah)
Service – 1 on principle and for folks who find it anywhere
Overall – 7 Not my fave arc, not my least favorite, but I still cried at the end. Such a fangirl.
I really like the new cover images, in which any and all gem-like accessories the Senshi are wearing look like shiny gems and not just like plastic blobs.