Manga Review: Codename Sailor V – Volume 1

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, but I wanted to do a special Sunday post as I won’t be able to do this then. I actually wanted to do a Christmas themed post, but I came up empty. Instead, I will be doing a manga review for Codename Sailor V – Volume 1. Hope you enjoy!

Back during the days when I watched Sailor Moon, I always thought the popularity for Sailor V in the universe is because she’s just a video game character Serena/Usagi adored. I don’t think it is ever explained in the anime series that Sailor Venus and V are one in the same. I suppose it is obvious, but it isn’t ever really confirmed. I vaguely knew of the existence of Naoko Takeuchi’s other manga series Codename Sailor V, but no one in North America had the pleasure to really read the prequel/separate story of Sailor V until Kodansha decided to translate and publish it in the U.S. for the first time ever.

Codename Sailor VCodename: Sailor V follows Minako Aino’s story as an ordinary 13-year-old girl who loves to have fun, chases boys, and is an athletic student by day, but masquerades as Sailor V by night to combat the evil forces of the Dark Agency. And when the time requires it, she rights petty street crimes and injustices too.

Each chapter breaks down into individual episodes of Mina trying to balance her regular life with her crime fighting one. A talking white cat named Artemis is her guardian and companion in trying to get Mina better trained at fighting the enemy.

The whole volume has Mina taking her crime fighting duties less than seriously, much to Artemis’s dismay. A lot of it is very lighthearted and comedic. It shows Mina being a girl who just wants to enjoy life while trying to find love and a boyfriend in the process.

What’s great about this volume is the cameos made by the scouts before they become the sailor soldiers we know them as in Sailor Moon. Having read Sailor Moon long before being able to read Sailor V, it’s funny how these girls are destined to come together and fight alongside of each other. They just don’t know it yet. Their near encounters with each other, but just missing each other is sort of like a nod and wink to the reader about the girls’ bigger destiny in the world at large. We are privy to their eventual coming together as friends and soldiers, but the girls themselves have no clue. It’s just a case of the timing not being right for them to know each other yet.

In the Sailor Moon anime it has been established that Mina and Usagi share similarities in appearance and personality. The first volume of the Sailor V manga just further shows how exactly alike they are that there is hardly any differentiation between the two girls. Their parents look almost exactly the same (though in Sailor V and Sailor Moon, Minako’s and Usagi’s parents are based on Takeuchi’s own parents), Mina is terrible at academics like Usagi, she is always running late for things like Usagi, and she eats a lot just like Usagi! Mina and Usagi kind of serve as actual mirrors to each other. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it just seems like Mina’s parents could have been drawn differently. I wonder if it is Takeuchi’s intent to make the two blondes so much like twins that you would think that these two were separated at birth.

What is different about Usagi and Minako is how they handle themselves in battle. Usagi’s first foray into battle is a near disaster. She freaks out and starts wailing when she realizes that none of it is a dream. It takes Luna needing to snap Usagi out of her panic mode in order to defeat the bad guy once and for all. Mina, while not knowing what she is doing, kind of jumps in fearlessly. She makes it look rather effortless and is a natural in battle. What makes Mina’s training half way there is the fact that she is athletic and quick on her feet––a positive that even Artemis observes when he first watches Mina. Mina already has the innate ability to be the right hand woman of Princess Serenity. Minako has always been a confident and duty minded leader in their past life on the moon and again in Neo-Tokyo when Usagi becomes Neo-Queen Serenity in the future on earth. This type of confidence and bravery Minako exudes takes more time for Usagi to gain, but she does in time.

Minako as Sailor V in her first battle against the enemy in the form of her high school "crush" (Scan taken via my camera phone)
Minako as Sailor V in her first battle against the enemy in the form of her high school “crush” (Scan taken via my camera phone)
Minako's shock over having disintegrated a guy she thought was a real human being (Scan taken via my camera phone)
Minako’s shock over having disintegrated a guy she thought was a real human being (Scan taken via my camera phone)

Overall, the first volume is an enjoyable read as a sort of prequel for Sailor Moon but focusing entirely on Minako’s story. The first volume seems to almost be too similar to Usagi’s start in the Sailor Moon manga, but I’m sure the contrast will widen greatly as I get the rest of the volumes. I look forward to reading more about V’s adventures.

Reviewer Rating: 9/10

3 thoughts on “Manga Review: Codename Sailor V – Volume 1

  1. I heard Usagi and Minako were also based on Ms.Takeuchi herself, personality-wise, so that may also have something to do with why they are so similar (and both have the same kind of parents). But I’m glad there is at least some difference between them. If Minako was an exact carbon copy, it would have been boring. Also, I am rather curious to see how she became so mature and reserved by the time she joined up with the others. I don’t recall her being too goofy in the Sailor Moon manga. She was more leader-like and responsible, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading Sailor V. :3 I’ve been eyeing it and trying to fit it into my next purchase. It’s only two volumes, so I could just pick them up together too.

    1. Yeah, I prefer that Minako and Usagi remain separate individuals. It really makes both characters stand out in different ways.

      It’s interesting that you point that out about Minako. I was thinking the same thing. I was surprised by how goofy and hyperactive Minako was in Volume 1 of Sailor V. When you compare her from this volume with how she mainly is in the Sailor Moon manga, Minako is more serious and mature. I think anime Minako at times embodies more of the Minako you see in Volume 1 of V, but it does make you wonder what happens to Minako in V prior to joining up with the scouts as you have said. I think I prefer the more mature, calm, and collected leader in the Sailor Moon manga than the anime one in many ways.

      1. Yeah, I do hope the second volume addresses that. I would be slightly let down if we just have to take it for granted that at some point she transitions “off screen”. Especially since this volume is giving us winks about the others, so I think it’s fair to say Ms.Takeuchi was already conceiving Sailor V as the prequel to Sailor Moon.

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