The Return of Sailor Moon

Fighting evil by moonlight. Winning love by daylight. Kodansha USA, by her, has done right. She is the one named Sailor Moon.

Appearing in a collected volume in English once again is the one, the only Sailor Moon. After a long, long and undeserved absence from bookshelves across the U.S., the pretty soldier in a sailor suit has been revived by the good people at Kodansha USA. Does anyone even remember the last time you could buy Sailor Moon at Borders? Well, if you do remember, you’ll be happy to hear that a lot has changed, but a lot has reminded the same.

The most notable change of all is the new cover and the new title “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.” This title carried over from the original Japanese re-release, updated to reflect the title of the television series airing at the time. All the re-release versions will have new covers drawn by Takeuchi Naoko. Sadly, if you read Sailor Moon like you watched the anime, this will make it hard to distinguish one “season” from another. However, the cover art is high quality and Takeuchi-sensei’s style hasn’t changed much since she last drew her famed heroine. Opening the book, you'll be greeted by another new, full color image drawn especially for the re-release. Then there is the colored first few panels of the manga and a newly printed, colorized version of the splash-page. All this on nice glossy paper. After that, I suggest you grab a snack, curl up in a comfy chair and prepare for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Just for those who don't know, Sailor Moon is the story of an ordinary middle-school girl named Tsukino Usagi who, like me, loves video games but hates studying (especially math). She is granted the power to become a guardian of love and justice by Luna, a talking cat with a crescent moon-shaped symbol on her forehead. With this power, she is able transform into Sailor Moon and not-so-gracefully combat evil. She is eventually joined by three other fellow guardians with powers over ice, fire and thunder. In addition, there is always the handsome and mysterious Tuxedo Mask to help the girls out when in a bind.

This first volume follows the birth of the sailor senshi and starts to unravel the mystery behind the legendary Silver Crystal, the missing Moon Princess, and the dark motives of the Dark Moon Kingdom headed by the villainous Queen Beryl. Now for the question you've all been waiting to have answered: how does this new release compare to the original U.S. release put out by TokyoPop way back in the day? The answer is, Kodansha righted the wrongs and triumphed over mistranslations!

  • You are now able to read the story in the original Japanese right-to-left format; no more backwards pictures.
  • You don't have to put up with the "dub" names. The characters all adhere to their original Japanese names, even if you still must read them first name then surname (instead of surname first).
  • This release is translated closer to the original Japanese text. Also, this volume gives you an extra story -- nothing new, just the first chapter from the U.S. original volume 2.
  • Whoever invented translation glossary/notes for the back of the book...THANK YOU. Sailor Moon has one to increase your knowledge about Japanese culture and to provide reasoning behind why the translators chose the words that appeared in the text.
  • As a bonus, this release is printed in a larger format than the old TokyoPop release; easier on the eyes! It makes you appreciate the retouched art all the more.

With all this praise for Kodansha USA, is there something they messed up? Actually, there is. It isn't their fault, but I consider it a major flaw of the re-release -- no liner notes in the sidebar. That's how the Japanese re-release was designed. Sadly, this means no reprinting of Takeuchi-sensei's funny stories, worries and other random stuff. But don't fret, the absence of the sidebar does not interfere with the manga; all the pictures just come out to the edge of the page now. You can't even tell where the liner notes were supposed to be unless you have an old release next to you. My only other fault with the re-release is the use of "bun-head" as the translation for odango. I honestly think this is where DiC got it right and the term "meatball head" should have been used. I realize that is not an accurate translation, but it sounds better than "bun-head" and it gives Mamo-chan that mocking tone he's supposed to have.

Another tiny irksome thing for me at least, is the use of "Pretty Guardian" instead of "Pretty Soldier." While it was nice to link it to the television series, I think if you were going to do an accurate re-release of the series, the original title should have been used. There has always been an unspoken distinction between the manga/anime, stage musicals and television show; now, that distinction has been blurred. Besides, the word in the title is Senshi and that translates as 'soldier' or 'warrior.' It feels like the series has been dumbed down if you take out reference to the girls actually doing serious, sometimes life threatening battle...but that's just my personal translation tiff as a student of Japanese language ^_~ Finally, as much as I like the new covers, I'm sad that the original cover art was not used. I've seen the artbooks; Takeuchi-sensei poured her heart into those pictures. I hope with the subsequent releases, the original splash-page art will at least be colorized like in this volume. Other than that, I consider this a near-flawless victory for Kodansha USA and a major win for us American fans.

Sailor Moon was a merchandise empire, social empire that defined a generation of otaku both in America and in Japan. It was marketed all over the world and adapted to meet the needs of each host country. While some found that appalling, I find it a unique gift that few manga/anime series have been able to accomplish since. It sure did take a long time for this re-release to reach American shores; it's been out in Japan since 2003 (and was reprinted again in 2009 when I was there!) If you were a fan of the series or the shoujo genre in general, you had better go out and pick up volume one and all subsequent releases of "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon" and "Code Name: Sailor V." It has been so long since I've last seen or read Sailor Moon, I found myself once again enchanted by storyline, cheering for our heroines and falling in love all over again for Tuxedo Mask! <3 I can't wait to plow through volume two when it is released this November!

For now, go buy your copy of volume one at a bookstore near you or online from Amazon! In the name of the moon, I command you to do it!!!! XD

No comments: