downloads & media
Sailor Moon #4
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.co.jp
Barnes & Noble.com
As with the previous volumes, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 4 looks fantastic. The colours really do pop off the cover and first few pages (moreso than the original Japanese manga) and the black and white pages look fine. Really nothing to complain about here.
Volume four of the manga sees the continuing of the second major arc in the Sailor Moon saga which has Sailor Moon and her Sailor Guardians battling the Black Moon villains from the future.
You can really see Naoko Takeuchi's storytelling improve with each additional volume. While the first story arc is considered epic by many, I think even the most die hard Moonies will admit that at times it felt like more of a plot point and character check list with only Sailor Moon and to a degree, Tuxedo Mask being given any time to develop as characters.
Naoko Takeuchi seems to be deliberately making up for the lack of attention given to individual supporting characters during the battle with the Dark Kingdom by focusing entire chapters to them here. In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 3 we got to see a bit more of what makes Sailor Mercury and Mars tick. In this volume we're given some great moments with Sailor Jupiter and thankfully Sailor Venus who joined the Sailor Team rather late in the battle with Queen Beryl.
We're also introduced to the mysterious Sailor Pluto who possibly has romantic feelings for the future Tuxedo Mask and at the same time, treated to some great insight to Usagi and Mamoru's new romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, as is the case with the manga, the villains are extremely underdeveloped (especially when compared with their anime counterparts) though not focusing on their humanity has the added benefit of making them all the more scary and threatening.
I'm not sure what type of villain I'd prefer, humanised or scary, though and this is one aspect of Naoko Takeuchi's writing that is consistent across all story arcs in the manga (with possible exception to Sailor Galaxia who appears towards the end of the series). Not necessarily a negative though first time readers who grew up watching the anime may be surprised at just how little screen time the manga villains are given here, sometimes even being killed within the same chapter they're introduced in.
Kodansha really isn't doing a good job with this release. At all.
While the original Japanese character names are used and the story uncut, this does not necessarily mean it's a good translation.
This translation has obviously been very rushed and as a result the dialogue continues to read incredibly awkwardly and sounds very unnatural and out of character. What's arguably worse is that because of the rushed translation it actually reads like, well... a rushed translation and lacks that special energy that the original Japanese release, Tokyopop's release (despite it's other faults) and even most online fan translations (or "scanlations") have.
Despite being advertised as having an "incredibly accurate translation", what we have here does in no way reflect the characters' personalities in the original Japanese manga (which I own).
It's not just the lack of flow and awkward dialogue that bugs me though, there continues to be inconsistency with the way the character's attack and transformation phrases are written. Sailor Moon's transformation phrase for example is written as both "Moon Crystal Power! Make Up!!" and "Moon Crystal Power: Make Up!!". It shouldn't be too hard to choose a format and stick to it.
There's also numerous instances of place names being written incorrectly, English words like "abracadabra" being spelt strangely (i.e. "abra-cadabra") and some 100% inaccurate translation as seen in a panel with Sailor Pluto who should be commenting on how Chibi Usa and Usagi are always fighting but instead, strangely claims that she's the one that's always fighting and that she's been acting that way for a long time. Huh?
I'm a huge Sailor Moon fan but also a very open minded one. For example I'm a huge fan of the original Japanese manga and anime but also absolutely love the DiC English dub of the anime and even the S and SuperS season dubs by Cloverway. An English release doesn't have to be faultless for me to like it as long as it maintains the fun and exciting energy of the original Japanese release. This release doesn't.
Also as with previous volumes, the two pages of bonus comic strips that Naoko Takeuchi drew/wrote for this re-release have not been included in this English version.
Just to confirm, these missing comic pages are not the manga short stories that were repackaged into the two Short Stories volumes (due for release after #1-12 are out). They are also not the small side notes that were in the original manga release and have now been replaced with cute chibi pics of the characters. These two pages are special comics that were made specifically from Naoko to thank fans for reading Sailor Moon and were included with the re-release of the manga in Japan (which this English re-release is based off of). These specific pages go into the creation of Sailors Pluto, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and it really is a shame that we're not getting them with this release, especially since Kodansha promised that we'd be getting all of the content that was in the Japanese re-release.
For a full list of the translation/adaption issues in this volume, check out my Manga Mistakes page.
If Kodansha doesn't up their game and start injecting some quality into this release (even the chapter page numbers are incorrect for crying out loud) by the time we get to Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 12 the only people left buying this release will be the hard core Sailor Moon fans who were already into Sailor Moon and are trying to complete their collection.
(not an average)
Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.co.jp
Barnes & Noble.com
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