Being a Warrior of Justice isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes sacrifices and hard decisions have to be made for the good of all mankind. Volume 2 of Codename Sailor V is the final book in Naoko Takeuchi’s short series that follows the adventures of bubbly teenager Minako Aino who was simply Sailor V before she became Sailor Venus of the Sailor Scouts in the Sailor Moon saga. As a warning for those who have yet to read this series, there will be some spoilers in my discussion of this volume. Only read this review after you have read the series or don’t mind spoilers.
The final volume of the series has the same set up as Volume 1 of Codename Sailor V, where there are a bunch of standalone, episodic chapters of Mina being her hyperactive and boy crazy self by day and Sailor V by night. It is difficult to see where all of these tiny anecdotes are headed. The larger purpose of Mina’s story seems to get lost amidst the colorful enemies and corny attack phrases going on throughout each panel.
Knowing the story of Sailor Moon really well, and seeing how Mina conducts herself as a scout when she joins Sailor Moon and the others much later in the Sailor Moon series, the real question on my mind was how Mina became more of the serious minded soldier who is duty driven above all else.
Things don’t start getting serious in Volume 2 until the last two chapters of the book. The situation with the Dark Agency continues to get dire, and Mina has to put a stop to it once and for all. Teen boy idol Ace Saijyo is shooting a film in China, and Artemis and Mina’s mysterious boss, who she communicates with through an arcade game, suspect the Dark Agency is up to no good, as there have been suspicious incidents spreading not only in Japan, but throughout the whole of Asia. Mina is tasked with investigating the production company behind Ace’s film, Ace-Vex Trax, by snatching the lead part in his film and flying out to China for the shoot.
In the course of Mina’s investigation, she is alarmed when Ace says things that seem to imply he knows all about Mina’s true identity. This leads to dreams of a shrouded figure calling out to Mina for help. Ace’s strange words also trigger images of faces and places from a time long forgotten. These images feel familiar to Mina, but she doesn’t know why or how. Confused by who Ace really is and what all these flood of images trickling into her mind may mean, Mina is also finding herself falling in love with Ace.
In a battle that leads up to defeating the enemy behind the bogus production company, the building begins to crumble around Mina. When she thinks Ace and Artemis are in grave danger, this along with the crumbling studio set triggers Mina’s long forgotten memories of her past life as Sailor Venus and her time as a loyal soldier for the Moon Kingdom. The memories also triggers a new transformation for Mina. No longer is she Sailor V, but now Sailor Venus.
When the the dust has cleared, Mina finds Ace who begins to tell her how he is also connected to her past life. Ace was once known as a young man named Adonis who loved Mina from afar. He watched as Mina got chosen by the Moon Kingdom to serve as a special protector to Princess Serenity. Ace sadly recalls how he longed to get closer to her. He found his chance when Adonis was enlisted in Prince Endymion’s army to fight the war against the Moon Kingdom. Of course, Adonis was cursed to have his love unrequited. Ace then reveals how he was reborn on Earth as a servant of the Dark Kingdom, Danburite who was the mastermind behind the Dark Agency all along.
When Ace/Danburite tries to finish off Sailor Venus, she counterattacks and unleashes her full power against him. As Ace lays dying, he gives Mina a love reading, where he foretells that, “Your love will never be granted for all eternity.” Ace’s love fortune is meant to be a comfort to Mina because he knows she is conflicted between choosing duty over love. Before Ace/Danburite dissipates into dust, his last words are, “Your fate is to battle on.”
Mina’s revelation and Ace’s sad story of loving a woman he can never attain, both in his past life and his new life, is the most powerful portion of the manga. It’s also the turning point in Mina’s character arc. You see Mina become the girl she is meant to be, which is putting her duty above everything else. Including love. This revelation is also laced with it’s own sadness. Ace’s words of Mina never having her love granted for as long as she lives is a depressing one. This is one instance where someone can’t have it all, and this seems to be Mina’s case. It’s ironic considering she represents the goddess of love and beauty. However, it reaffirms where Mina’s priorities are. She will do whatever it takes to fulfill her duty to her princess and to protecting the world, even if it means giving up on finding true love for herself.
What’s interesting is how Mina assesses how serious she really felt about being “in love” with the many men she has fallen for in the course of the two volume series. She concludes that in the end her feelings weren’t real for any of these men, but she’s sure her feelings for Ace is genuine. Though despite what her feelings are for Ace, she still felt this tug at her heart for putting her love aside to protect her princess. It’ll be inevitable that Mina will choose her princess over Ace, and Ace knows this all too well.
Despite the melancholic love fortune Ace gives Mina, she herself has accepted her fate. The Sailor Moon manga series has depicted Mina as a strong woman who hardly focuses too much on getting a man, but focusing on her larger purpose in life. Mina can’t afford to have distractions, and falling in love is a distraction to her mission. In a lot of ways, it’s a brave thing for Mina to give up on love for duty. Ace reassures her that she won’t be deciding between the two because she knows what is best for her. Mina may still be the same boy crazy girl who loves love, but she knows deep down she can’t give the kind of love and commitment a good man deserves. It’s her commitment to her cause and to serving Princess Serenity that makes her the confident warrior woman who will throw herself fearlessly into battle. Mina has proven to be a woman who doesn’t weep over her fate, but embraces it.
Overall, the final volume of the manga has the same fun tone as the first volume, but it does make me wish we had a deeper look into Mina’s past life on the Moon instead of the glimpses we get in the manga before she has her memories come back in full force. The revelation of Mina’s true calling in life and Ace’s mysterious connection to Mina is too short and leaves you wanting a bit more. Still, the final interactions between Mina and Ace are strong in its impressions on the reader. Those short moments left me with something to think about and makes me realize how great of a character Sailor Venus truly is.
Reviewer Rating: 8.5/10