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Codename: Sailor V, Vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi
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Codename: Sailor V, Vol. 2

by Naoko Takeuchi

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Sailor V is a ridiculously cheery, upbeat manga - Minako-chan is a silly and exuberant thirteen year old girl. Her cat guardian Artemis, whom she describes as a middle-aged man in personality, frequently bemoans the fact that she is the chosen guardian. Nevertheless, despite her whimsical attitude, when push comes to shove Minako jumps into her role as superhero with enthusiasm.

The stories quickly fall into an episodic formula - Minako gets swept up into some new fad or craze - from candy to pets to a Red Cross blood drive! - that turns out to be engineered by the Dark Agency as part of their evil plan to steal energy. Minako always FIRST transforms into a glamorous adult in some profession related to the story - a beautiful executive secretary, a hair and make up artist, a top cat breeder or a pharmaceuticals representative - before making the transformation into masked champion of justice, Sailor V. Then she delivers a speech referencing some famous people, authors or documents somehow related to the scheme. Naoko-sama keeps this from getting boring simply by the sheer manic energy that pours off the pages. It makes fun of itself, breaks the fourth wall and is just really entertaining.

SPOILERS BELOW:

It's interesting because some of the characters look very similar to characters who later appear in Sailor Moon - the Inspector General of the police, Natsuna Sakurada - who is IN LOVE with Sailor V - looks like Rei/Sailor Mars and her partner, the officer Wakagi (whom Minako crushes on) is the spitting image of Haruka/Sailor Uranus. Sailor V even gets her own version of Tuxedo Mask in the fair-haired teen idol Phantom Ace, who is a celebrity with his own television show and also a superhero connected to Sailor V's past life.

One of my favourite stories in this volume has Minako become the assistant to a popular manga author. The author's best-selling series, about ten girls who run a bridal shop by day and transform into "revolutionary warriors who defeat the enemy" by night, is totally meta. The ten magical brides/warriors are shown in silhouette and look exactly like the Sailor Guardians - including the ones we haven't met yet and won't meet for a while, proving Naoko had planned out much of the series, or at least all the main cast, even at this early stage. I thought it was fun and so funny that this manga author admits to getting her start writing Phantom Ace/Tuxedo Mask yaoi fanfiction. (Oh, Queen Naoko-sama, you are so fun!)

By the end of the volume things take a surprising turn for the dark. In the two-part finale, Minako is instructed to investigate Phantom Ace, who is filming a movie in China. Using her transforming powers, Minako is able to land the part of the leading lady. As the story unfolds, Minako becomes more and more certain that she must protect Phantom Ace, that he is her one true love . . . and the penny drops. Her destiny is to protect one very special person, yes, but it's not Ace. Minutes before watching her love plummet to his death, she is told straight up that her wish for romance will NEVER BE GRANTED FOR ALL OF ETERNITY. She is destined for a life of duty, protecting her princess and battling the enemy, but never to fall in love, never to have the story be about her, ever again, from this point on. It's really kind of . . . heartbreaking. But thirteen year old Minako accepts this fate with grace now that she is "fully awakened" to her memories and abilities. The Sailor V manga finishes with her determined to find her fellow guardians and even join the police part-time in her battle against the enemy!

One thing I did wonder about while reading this was . . . the kid is thirteen where are her parents?! She's flying to another country, landing a leading role in an international movie and receiving phone calls from her new pal, the Inspector General of the police department, and her parents just never . . . they're not . . . they don't seem to exist. I know it doesn't really matter, in the context of Naoko-sama's magic glittery dream-universe, real world logic need not apply. And I love it, I really do. But I still wondered about her parents. ( )
  catfantastic | Oct 10, 2013 |
Minako Aino may be only thirteen, but she's really taken her role as a champion of justice to heart. As Sailor V, she protects the city of Tokyo from the minions of the evil Dark Agency, prevents innocent animals from getting run over by cars, and stands on street corners soliciting charity donations for worthy causes! With such a hectic schedule, you'd think that Minako wouldn't find time for romance, but she always finds time for her favorite things: celebrities and boys. Right now, the hottest idol is Phantom Ace, and Minako's crazy about him...and handsome policeman Wakagi...and her classmate Otonaru...and...and...?rouble's brewing and the stakes are high - when the time comes to settle down and be serious, will Sailor V be able to handle it?

In my review of the first book in the series, I mention that Codename Sailor V has three volumes. I wanted to clarify this further, since it could be confusing. When the chapters of the series were originally gathered up and put into book form in the 1990s, they were printed as three volumes. When the series was reprinted in 2004, it was consolidated into two books. When the story was translated in the United States, they kept the two-book format, so this volume does complete the series.

The story really evolves in this book. At the beginning, Sailor V indulges in the familiar episodic slapstick that propelled the first book from one adventure to the next. But somewhere in the middle, the story starts to take on a more serious, somber tone as memories of her past life begin to bubble up in Minako's subconscious. The connections between the world of Sailor Moon - the role of a sailor guardian, the Moon Kingdom, and so on – and Sailor V are coming together, and in the process Minako is maturing into the leader that she was always meant to be. She'll have to leave her days as a flashy superstar and teen idol behind to work in a much more covert team, but by the bittersweet conclusion Minako's ready.

In Sailor Moon, Sailor Venus doesn't really seem to get a lot of page time, and when she shows up she's already very dedicated to the mission and her duties as a soldier. It's been really cool to explore the character in greater depth and find out how she became that way. As a stand-alone series, I don't think Sailor V could work, since the final chapters are clearly written to lead into something else. But as a supplement to the main Sailor Moon series, I found it very enjoyable. ( )
1 vote makaiju | Oct 9, 2012 |
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Please don't combine Codename: Sailor V shinsouban edition with the original edition. This edition is collected in two volumes, whereas the original is collected in three volumes.
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"Like Sailor Moon, Minako Aino is a normal 13-year-old schoolgirl until a fateful day when a white cat introduces himself to her and tells her she has the power to transform into the hero, Sailor V. Using a magic pen to transform, Sailor V fights the evil agents of the Dark Agency as she strives to protect the earth" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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