Story: Naoko Takeuchi
Art: Naoko Takeuchi
Genre: Magical Girl
Volume Count: 2
Vintage: 1991 (through 1997)
Version reviewed: English Translated
Date of Review: 21 Oct 2013
Before Sailor Moon there was Sailor V.
Minako Aino is a happy-go-lucky thirteen-year-old first-year middle school student. She likes boys and video games and hates homework. Everything changes when Minako meets a talking white cat named Artemis who tells her that she is to be a “Champion of Justice”. Strange things are happening around town, and only Minako can put things right again. With help from Artemis, Minako transforms into Sailor V to save the day.
It’s a simple magical girl formula that repeats in every chapter: strange things happen, people are in danger, girl transforms into hero and saves the day. Even so, Codename Sailor V remains entertaining. Naoko Takeuchi has a unique sense of humor, breaks the fourth wall occasionally, and has a nice (and very shoujo) art style. And did I mention that this series is the prequel to Sailor Moon? Codename Sailor V takes place before and through the very beginning of that most famous series which followed.
The story really is quite simple. Nearly every chapter follows the formula mentioned above, so unless you are already a fan of magical girl stories and can accept its conventions, you may find Sailor V to be repetitive. It’s the writing and character interactions which hold the story together over its fifteen chapters.
Kodansha’s translation is a bit of an odd one, and I base this solely on how it reads in English. The phrase “for pity’s sake” is used quite a bit, and it almost sounds anachronistic, or perhaps more accurately more like something your grandparents might say rather than a teenager in the 1990s. Also, Minako is thirteen years old and still calls her parents “mommy” and “daddy”. It’s been a long time since I was thirteen years old, but those terms seem more like something a grade-schooler would use rather than a junior high school student. Those two oddities aside, there are no other major quirks in how it reads, though some bits here and there may have benefitted from some further normalization into English.
My final call on Codename Sailor V is that if you’re a Sailor Moon fan, it should definitely be a part of your collection. Sailor Moon is where my own anime fandom began nearly fifteen years ago, so finally being able to read Sailor V as a lead in to Sailor Moon itself makes it feel like I’ve gone full-circle. If you’re a Moonie, new or old, check out Sailor V!