Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 11

By Naoko Takeuchi. Released in Japan as “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Nakayoshi. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

First off, this review has spoilers for the volume, as it’s kind of hard to discuss it without them. Second, this volume is a first for me. I’d never seen the dubbed Sailor Moon anime, and for the most part always read the manga before I saw the subbed anime – probably one reason I like the manga so much. Stars is the one exception, and I worried that I would inevitably find the manga wanting, as I seemed to when I first read it years ago. And to be fair, there is a bit of ‘let’s drag this out for one more apocalypse’ to the story. I also found it hideously rushed, even more so than usual for Takeuchi, but am putting that down to seeing the anime first. All that said, there’s still piles of stuff I want to talk about.


I always recalled this being the most depressing arc, and there is certainly a lot of bleakness and death. But I liked how the volume began with everyone happy and content. Minako has now joined the others in high school (Rei is still at her private school), and everyone’s getting involved in club activities and various things that aren’t being senshi. It’s peaceful days, folks. Also, the introduction of the Three Lights leaves room for humor, particularly Yaten’s catty remarks to Michiru, leaving her in a rare instance of losing her cool. And much as I find Chibi-Chibi as puzzling as the rest of the cast, I was amused at everyone’s attempts to figure out who the hell she was.

And now on to the trauma. This is a vicious volume of Sailor Moon, probably the worst to date. By the end of the volume, all the senshi bar Sailor Moon are either dead or presumed dead. Indeed, Mercury and Jupiter get taken out so early they barely get a chance to appear. What’s more, these deaths look deadly, if you’ll pardon the expression. Takeuchi uses the same “flesh melting off” death mask she’s used before when minor villains are dispatched, and having it happen to folks like Mars or Venus seems wrong. Worst of all is Mamoru, who’s killed in front of Usagi at the airport, something so trauma-inducing that she blocked it out for months afterwards. And while Seiya and the others do note that if the Senshi Star Seeds survive, they can be reborn, it honestly feels like he’s talking about reincarnation. Or heaven.

Mars and Venus do get a few cool things to do before they’re dispatched. Rei infiltrates Minako’s school, a nice mirror to the short story where Minako did the reverse – or at least it would be if the re-release didn’t shuffle the short stories off to the end. They draw out the Three Lights, amusingly, by Minako going over the top about finding herself a man. Yaten calls her on this, noting that their duties to Usagi mean there will never be room for love in their lives (Minako in particular has heard this before – see Code Name: Sailor V). Minako smirks, and admits that this is true. She then leans into Rei and notes that the two of them have no use for men. It’s meant to be “duty over love” and threatening the Lights, but can easily be read as homoerotic if one chooses. And many do.

Speaking of senshi in general, one interesting thing going on here is the use of innocents from other planets as a sort of “failed Senshi” – their planets were destroyed by Galaxia and they’re being brainwashed/forced into attacking Earth. It’s interesting because of the Lights’ insistence that they’re all just as genuine as our heroines – on another planet, for example, Iron Mouse was Sailor Chu (yes, yes – it’s Nakayoshi, folks). Tying Lead Crow into Phobos and Deimos and Tin Nyanko into the cats thus works even better – I loved Luna’s accusation to Tin Nyanko that she’s defiling Planet Mau’s ‘One True Hero”, Sailor Mau. The Sailor Moons of other worlds are being used to kill off the cast of Sailor Moon. Which is really horrible if you think about it.

Even more than previous volumes, I find this one works best when you immerse yourself in it rather than try to understand each nuance. There’s too much going on here. But for the Sailor Moon fan, there are always so many rewards that the experience is never dull. It all ends next volume (except for the short stories).

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