Title: Sailor Moon
Parents don't need to worry too much about this series, as it's a nice story of friendship, love, and growing up. Some of the later arcs in the series are darker and more serious then some of the earlier arcs, but if you're kids read Harry Potter then they should be fine. Although it should be noted that a lesbian couple ends up playing a major role in later volumes of the series.
Action fans, romance fans, comedy fans, fantasy fans, and drama fans rejoice, this series has a little bit of everything in it to please everyone, so there are few people out there who WON'T enjoy this!
However some people may want to be aware of "Sailor Moon's" very controversial ending, which people are still debating on whether or not it was a good ending or a bad ending.
Hard-core Sailor Moon fans are bound to hate this release of the series, as the translation of the series is horribly loose, and the quality of the books are rather poor. People new to Sailor Moon might not notice much though.
"Sailor Moon" is one of the most popular franchises to ever come from Japan. Period. "Sailor Moon" has become a house hold name ever since the manga (and anime) premiered back in 1991 and 1992 (respectively). Eeveryone knows about Sailor Moon, or at the very least they know Sailor Moon exists. This franchise has loyal fans that could easily be compared to Star Wars fans, and that's saying something since new Star Wars stuff is still being produced while Sailor Moon has been taking a breather since 1997, with very little new stuff being made (The live action series is fairly new, so I'm disqualifying it for now). In fact, it has become so universally popular that many people these days look at Sailor Moon (and her fans) as an "old tired show that should be put to rest." What many people forget is that before Sailor Moon became this world wide money making machine, it started out as a very good manga. The story has been told so many times before, that I probably don't really NEED to explain what the story is about (Let's face it, even people who haven't read the manga know what it's about), but I'll explain the story anyway since the manga MIGHT just be forgotten in ten years (Although THAT'S doubtful)!
The series opens up with the star of the series, Serena Tsukino (Who is nick-named Bunny), trying to get to school on time before she is late for the millionth time in her life. It is established pretty early on that Bunny is not a terribly smart person...in fact, she's not much of anything. She's a crybaby, she gets terrible grades, she's always late for class, she flirts with every cute guy she meets, and she is basically your average teenage girl. So she's running to school this morning to try and make it on time before she is late again, however while she's running to school she accidently steps on a black cat with bandages over her forehead! Bunny is horrified by the fact that she hurt a helpless animal, and tries to nurse the cat back to health. However when she takes the bandages off the cat's forehead, the cat leaps out of her arms, and just stares at Bunny. This might have gone on forever, however she remembers that she still has to get to school, and off she goes with the black bat staring after her. To make a long story short, that day Bunny will have ended up being late for class again, getting a thirty on her test, and making a new enemy in high school student Darian Shields. And after all of THIS happens, the black cat shows up at her doorstep and claims that Bunny is really Sailor Moon! Who is Sailor Moon exactly? Sailor Moon is one of the four Sailor Soldiers from the Moon Kingdom, which was destroyed many years ago.
You see she, and three other soldiers, were reborn on Earth as regular human's since the Moon Kingdom was destroyed many years ago, and Luna was sent to Earth to reawaken them in case the forces of evil should reawaken. Well not only have the forces of evil reawakened, but they are also looking for a mystical item called the Silver Crystal, which disappeared along with everything else from the Moon Kingdom. What's the Silver Crystal? It is a legendary stone of pure power that belonged to the Moon Princess. Who's the Moon Princess? No one knows really. She was reborn as a normal human along with everyone else, but she too is missing, along with the Silver Crystal and the other three Sailor Soldiers. Which means Bunny's mission (As Sailor Moon of course) is to find the other three soldiers and awaken them, find the missing Princess and protect her, and finally, she also has to make sure that The Dark Kingdom (A.K.A., the bad guys) don't get their hands on the Silver Crystal! Strangely enough, none of this is what scares the readers the most. No, what scares readers the most is that ALL of this responsibility is being given to Bunny, who has proven right off the bat to be the most unreliable person is the series! And if that weren't enough, we also treated to a mysterious character by the name of Tuxedo Mask, who is an enigma who is as strange as his name.
You see, Tuxedo Mask has no idea who he is. He lost his memory many years ago, doesn't have a clue on who he is, but he does know one thing: If he finds the Princess and the Silver Crystal, all of his questions will be answered. He is constantly showing up to try and make sure that neither Sailor Moon nor the Dark Kingdom gets the Silver Crystal, yet for some reason he always saves Sailor Moon...and ONLY Sailor Moon (He never once saves the other Sailor Soldiers, which makes his saving Sailor Moon even more mysterious)! So is he friend or foe? Maybe he's neither, the point is we don't know. So with her new super powers, the race is on to find the Silver Crystal, find the Princess, and defeat the enemies. But is Bunny up to the challenge of it all? What makes "Sailor Moon" such a memorable series is the fact that from the beginning to end, is that there are very few things that are predictable in this series! It starts out like nothing more than a cute little time waster, how as time goes on characters prove to be more complex and deep then you originally thought they were, the missions and goals of the enemies are not quite as black and white as they first appear, and Bunny goes through lots of personal growth as the series progresses! It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Bunny to be a super strong person the minute she got her Sailor powers, but the great thing about her getting her powers is that it doesn't mean she is a pro at using them right off the bat.
Unlike the girls in "Magic Knight Rayearth," who became magic wielding pro's in five minutes, it takes time for Bunny to get used to using her Sailor powers. She makes mistakes, she loathes having this extra responsibility when she should be having fun while she's young, and the reason we come to love her so much is because we can relate to her so easily. Not with us having super powers of course, but as teenagers we ALL felt that things like homework were a waste of time, and that we could have (and in many cases should have) been doing all the things that teenagers should have been doing! In this book Bunny is constantly pressured to grow up, to get serious, and to stop being so childish. I'm sure we've all gone through THAT discussion with out parents at least once in our life, and the sad fact is that it's true that most parents and grown up's want their kids to grow up faster, while the kids would rather have fun before they enter that adult world and have REAL responsibilities! At the heart of it all, "Sailor Moon" is about a young girl who is forced to grow up much sooner then she should have to, and that is a story worth checking out! This is an emotional, action packed, and sometimes downright hilarious series that truly deserves the popularity it has gotten! It's a shame that the manga was handled so poorly...which opens a whole new can of worms to this series, as well as a second half of this review that would have otherwise not existed at all.
Have you ever heard of a company called Mixx? Sure have, you just don't realize it yet. Yes, Mixx is actually Tokyopop, WAY back then when they were first getting started in the manga business!! Mixx was a brand new company out to bring manga to the world, but their translations and books were of the poorest quality you could think of. As they improved though, they decided that their Mixx name had been stained too bad to ever be cleaned, and so they renamed their company to Tokyopop, who is now the leading manga publisher out there. It is agreed by pretty much all manga fans that Mixx's first translated series were the worst translations ever, and "Sailor Moon" was their very first translated manga! Yes, "Sailor Moon" was not only the first manga Tokyopop ever released, but it's also their best selling manga to date! Although since this is their first manga, I should also point out that this is their worst translation to date. The first problem many people have with the translation is that Tokyopop used the English names for the characters instead of the Japanese names. The names changes were:
Usagi Tsukino = Serena Tsukino
Ami Mizuno = Amy
Rei Hino = Raye
Makoto Kino = Lita
Minako Aino = Mina
Mamaru Chiba = Darien Shields
To some credit though, the names of the characters have been going through a war ever since DiC introduced the English names to everyone back in 1995 with their dub of the anime. Some like the Japanese names better, some like the English names better, some don't mind the changes, some do, and so forth. So really, the name changes are going to bother you depending on how you've always felt about the names of the characters names in the first place. But just to let you know, if this is your first time reading Sailor Moon, then the chances of these names bothering you will be very slim. Although an interesting name translation is Serena's nickname Bunny. See Usagi means rabbit, and Tsukino means moon, so Usagi Tsukino roughly translates to "Rabbit of the Moon." It's really strange that Tokyopop decided to translate one single characters name correctly...but as you can see, that one name that did decide to translate correctly has a problem in it itself (Usagi means rabbit, not bunny -_-;). However the names are just the first problem of the translation. Tokyopop made sure to make this manga as "American" as possible, so they beefed up the script, inserted many different American pop culture references, and some very distinctive Japanese culture was totally omitted.
However, it gets worse.
Whoever was supposed to proof read the books did a very poor job, and as such there are MANY spelling mistakes in this book! Sometimes the loose translations and spelling error's combined make some parts of the story down right confusing to read, and very hard to understand! So as you can see, the translation brings down the enjoyment of this book a lot. However, it gets worse still. Then we have to talk about the actually quality of the books themselves, which are pretty poor to say the least. First let's talk about the size. I've posted a couple of pictures below so that you guys can see exactly what I'm talking about:
As you can see, compared to the size of Tokyopop's graphic novels today, "Sailor Moon" falls rather short of expectations, no pun intended. And also check out this picture:
And as you can see in this picture, on top of one of Tokyopop's graphic novels today, you can still read Tokyopop's fish logo on the side due to the lack of width. In fact, this book is so small that I find it a little bit difficult to read sometimes...although Tokyopop's lousy image resizing doesn't help either. What do I mean by that you ask? Well, you see, the thing is along with the poor translation, a LOT of the dialog is sometimes cut off at the edge of the pages, which happens to be another reason on why this book is so difficult to read! Also the paper quality of the books are kind of...questionable. The pages are flimsy, they fall out easily, and you basically have to really know how to take care of the book because it breaks easily all the time (hmm, maybe a quarter of the SM books they sold were replacement copies maybe?). I'll give them a little slack since this was Tokyopop's first book ever released, but its still a bit on the frustrating side to have such poorly made books! So what's the final verdict on this series? Well, I'm not sure to tell you the truth. On one hand it's Sailor Moon, and the story is great and the characters are timeless (trust me on this, the series would not have survived over ten years if they weren't), so it SHOULD be an easy recommendation...but sadly it's not!
Because while the story may be worth the journey on one hand, the book, translation, cropping, and everything else on the other hand is done so poorly, that it SEVERELY brings down the grade! Now everyone may say that it would be better to wait for Tokyopop to re-release this series like they did with "Cardcaptor Sakura," with a brand spanking new translation and no page flipping/cropping, but there is another problem with waiting for that to come out (yes, it just doesn’t seem to end does it). You see, the problem is not that Tokyopop isn't interested in re-releasing a correct version of "Sailor Moon," as they have shown interest in doing a re-release. No, the problem is that the manga has been caught up in some legal issue's that are currently preventing them from doing the re-release. Not only that, but Toei Animation (major partner to the creator, and huge animation studio) is hell bent on pulling "Sailor Moon" out of America altogether for some unknown reason. People have said that Toei has no control over the manga, and that may be true to some extent, but they do have enough money to influence other companies (paticularly Kodonsha, which owns the manga rights to "Sailor Moon") to follow their lead, so I have my suspicions that there is more going on back stage then anyone's letting on as to why we haven't gotten the re-release we so desperately want to have!
As for the current edition, it appears that Tokyopop has even put this lousy edition of the books in "Out of Print" status, and finding them for less then $50 a book may be hard (just for the record, I bought my books before they went out of print)! Yikes! So I guess the big question is this series worth all the trouble to get? That depends who you are I guess. If you're a hard core Sailor Moon fan you may want to grab the only chance you may have in years to get the books, but if you've never read it before then it might not be worth it to shell over the ridiculous amounts of money to test a series you may or may not like (the series may be a classic, but here's where that darn translation messes things up). So I'll leave the decision up to you. I would grade the series an A, but I would grade the release (which includes translation, book printing, etc...) a C-. So if I combine the grades then I guess B- is about as fair a grade I can give the series. From here on out it's your choice on whether or not you should get it. If you asked me I would say yes, but on the other hand Sailor Moon is a very personal series to me (and I didn't have to pay $50 for one book), so you're opinion on this release and it's price may vary from mine.
- -Review By Kevin T. Rodriguez- -
Note: Like Viz did with "Dragon Ball," Tokyopop decided to rename some of the later books after the Sailor Moon anime's that were created. Which means "Sailor Moon Super S" and "Sailor Moon Sailor Stars" will NOT be receiving seperate reviews as they are not seperate series, they are all part of one series that has simply been renamed by Tokyopop! If you are interesting in reading this series in the correct order you first must read the "Sailor Moon" books, then the Super S books, and finally you read the Sailor Stars books.