(Review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/29008.html#vol1)
This first volume introduces us to Usagi Tsukino, a somewhat lazy girl who loves food and is a bit of a crybaby. One day on her way to school she saves a talking black cat who reveals herself to be Luna. She presents Usagi with a locket that allows her to transform into the guardian of justice Sailor Moon, who's tasked with stopping the evil forces that are plaguing Tokyo (unbeknownst to the normal folk), find someone who's the Moon Princess, and find the Legendary Silver Crystal. Along her way, Usagi will find other guardians like herself, and together they form the Sailor Scouts.
That summary sounds pretty cheesy, huh? Well, that's what Sailor Moon is in a lot of ways. There are some really cringe-worthy moments, such as when Usagi introduces herself to the baddies (as her Sailor Moon persona of course) if you take them too seriously. It actually all made me wonder HOW seriously I was supposed to be taking everything. Like I mentioned above, the Magical Girl had been around for quite some time when Sailor Moon came around, and while Takeuchi revolutionized the genre, there were some moments here that I couldn't tell if they were parodying the Magical Girl genre, or trying to embody it.
Anyway, the story is very fast-paced. This is usually the case with manga, as manga-ka (manga writers and illustrators) want to pull their audience in right away. This made for a jarring reading experience at times. Usagi, along with the other sailor scouts, never question why they've been chosen to do what they do and very readily accept that they suddenly have to fight monsters and look for someone called The Moon Princess. I mean, what the hell? If some talking cat told me something like that, I would be more shocked/weirded-out/etc. But for the sake of the story, these girls take in stride. Sort of Big Baddies are killed off rather quickly, which was also rather jarring. However, this might all feel especially fast-paced because I've also been watching the anime as well, which is chock-full of filler episodes.
There was a lot of things that felt out of place in the story, such as Luna talking to an arcade machine to get instructions on how to complete the mission her and the scouts were set out to do. The whole "mission" itself was frustratingly hazy and not well explained either, which drove me nuts. Of course, already knowing the story in advance helped alleviate that, but still: they're told right off the bat to look for this moon princess and legendary stone but they have no idea WHY. Luna never even explains how she knew to find Usagi and the others, or how she knew what their mission was. Maybe it was because she was sent to earth to be reborn and as such was just born with that knowledge? Maybe I should just stop over-thinking things so much.
All this over-thinking has made me thought (hah) that I would have enjoyed these a lot more as a young girl, where I would be much more forgiven and willing to roll with the punches.
Seeing as this is manga I should probably talk about the art. Overall, I really enjoyed it. Takeuchi has a style that's most associated with anime/manga (the big shiny eyes, the slim and superrr long legs, etc.) but I find it's quite pretty to look at. My only problem with the art was with Luna.. sometimes it seemed like this was the first Takeuchi ever had to draw a cat (or possibly animals in general) as Luna appeared really odd a lot of the time.
So, this wasn't the best manga reading experience I've had, but it was a fun nostalgia trip nonetheless, and as the manga story deviated enough from the anime one, I was intrigued to keep reading.