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Sailor Moon #6
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.co.jp
Barnes & Noble.com
Volume 6 of Kodansha's re-release of the Sailor Moon manga in English looks great. The cover image really pops and all of the smudging issues that were present in volume 5 appear to be gone which is a great improvement.
Naoko Takeuchi's artwork also seems to take a leap forward with this volume with a certain freshness to the character designs, poses and action that I never really noticed in previous volumes. This volume is a great example of how her style evolved over the course of the series and is a great taste of some of the awesome artwork that's to come in later volumes.
This volume begins the Infinity Arc of the manga which corresponds to the third season of the Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Moon S and introduces the reader to the fan favourite characters Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Hotaru (soon to be Sailor Saturn).
While previous volumes have had issues with story pacing and character face time, this arc also marks an improvment in Naoko Takuechi's story telling with a great balance being struck with action, new character introduction and existing character development. A great example of this improvement is the chapter where the girls take a trip to a mountain resort. Not only does this gives us some Sailor Mars time, but Sailor Jupiter also gets to show off the action side of her personality while Sailor Moon is put in a very compromising situation all while the mystery of the Death Busters is revealed little by little and the characters of Sailor Uranus and Neptune grow more and more.
Fans of the anime who have never read this arc in the manga before will really get a kick out of this volume as it diverts quite a bit from the story told in Sailor Moon S while at the same time introducing characters they know and love.
This is a very strong volume of the Sailor Moon manga saga that any Sailor Moon fan will get a kick out of.
Somewhere between the release of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon #5 and this volume Kodansha seems to have really made a conscious effort to improve the quality of their manga releases. In fact they actually said as much at ComiCon 2012 during their panel where they addressed several of the issues raised by fans concerning the errors and translation quality of the Sailor Moon manga and promised that now that things have stabalised at the company, more care could now be given to quality control and they would actively be reading fans' responses on social media such as on Facebook and Twitter.
Evidence of this improved quality can be seen within the first several pages which have been completely rewritten since they were used as a preview at the back of the previous volume. With the exception of Rei's "oracle" dialogue, the entire script flows a lot more naturally than it did originally and this improved script continues for the entirety of the volume.
The biggest issue with this release of the Sailor Moon manga for me has always been the dialogue that either made characters sound completely different from their Japanese counterparts, changed the meaning or emotional feeling of the original script or read so unnaturally that I actually had to stop reading and work out what was being said.
There is a random colon in a transformation phrase and Sailor Venus' "I feel eyes on me!" sounds a bit off and gets repeated more than is needed but for the most part all of these script issues are no longer an issue.
The result is a release of the Sailor Moon manga by Kodansha that I actually found myself enjoying and genuinely made me excited for the next release! This is something I was not expecting at all, especially considering how awkward several of the previous volumes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and Codename Sailor V read.
This volume isn't without other issues though and unfortunately while this volume is very readable these issues really do dramatically affect my enjoyment of it.
The strange hyphenating of names continues with Chibi Usa being written as "Chibi-Usa" and is made more confusing by her Sailor Guardian name being unhyphenated as "Sailor Chibi Moon". We're also introduced to some mind boggling presentations of the Outers' civilian names which is more distracting and confusing (I'd imagine especially for younger readers) than needed.
While Haruka Teno, Michiru Kaio and Setsuna Meio's surnames being written as , and is a correct form of translation, that style is more used in dictionaries and pronunciation guides and not so much by the every day person and definitely not in a manga targeted towards teens. Maybe having this in a character profile book or even at the back of the volume in the translation notes would be okay, but having all those macrons and apostrophes over a character's name is distracting and results in the average English reader realising that they have no idea how to read English letters with those symbols above them.
A great example would be the planet Uranus which can be written as this: . Unless you're a major in linguistics though and really interested in the proper pronunciation, I think you'll agree that spelling it as "Uranus" is better for common use.
Also, while the cats are finally speaking English ("Meow" instead of the Japanese "Nyan". Woo hoo!!!) there are still a lot of strange sound effects that are neither English or Japanese and are more distracting than complementing to the action on page.
Another issue that really distracted from my enjoyment of this issue (and caused me to rant a bit) is the writing of several location names in both Japanese AND English within the same speech bubble. Not only is this beyond lazy but it's confusing for the reader, looks and reads awkwardly and really disrupts the flow. I really hope Kodansha changes this in future volumes and reprints of this volume. Translation notes like this belong in the back of the manga, not smack dab right in the middle of dialogue.
For a full list of the translation/adaption issues in this volume, as well as more info on the different translation styles that can be used to translate Japanese names to English, check out my Manga Mistakes page.
I really wasn't expecting to get so excited about reading a volume of the Sailor Moon manga so late in Kodansha's run (we're now at the halfway point in the main series) but this volume did just that. For the most part the awkward dialogue is gone which is a relief to say the least and would have earned this volume a four star rating. The strange sound effects, inclusion of Japanese and English location names in the same bubble and regrettable presentation of the Outers' names though bring it down to a 3.5 stars.
If Kodansha can address these issue though, I look forward to giving my first five star rating to the next Kodansha release of the Sailor Moon manga.
If you stopped buying this re-release because of previous issues, I would recommend picking up this volume. It's a good read and also kicks off the Infinity (Sailor Moon S) Arc which is well worth a read, especially if you haven't read the Sailor Moon manga before.
(not an average)
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.co.jp
Barnes & Noble.com
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