Codename: Sailor V Is The Manga Every Sailor Moon Fan Should Read
Codename: Sailor V is a short manga series that came out before Sailor Moon was an anime. It’s a hidden gem of the Sailor Moon universe…
Codename: Sailor V is the prequel to Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. This prequel manga was published on August, 3, 1991, but it’s still relevant. Although its plotlines are compatible with the Sailor Moon universe, the stories are still considered separate. If you’re a Sailor Moon geek like me, I highly recommend you check this manga out.
The protagonist of this manga is Aino Minako – also known as Mina or, more famously, Sailor Venus. Most people don’t know this, but this manga proves Sailor Venus was the first sailor scout to ever exist. Like Sailor Moon, Mina isn’t much of a student or perfectionist. Aside from being a superhero, she’s still a lot like other 13 year-old girls. For instance, she likes eating junk food, sleeping, adoring idols, and having crushes. She even describes herself as “a totally normal girly-girl.”
This manga puts different twists on the Sailor Moon universe that make it especially entertaining. For instance, when Mina first meets Artemis the white talking cat, she throws him out of the window. (Then again, he did approach her in the bathroom.) Despite this, he eventually awakens her to her goddess origins on planet Venus. He remains as her guide throughout the manga. (Luna also appears, but not as a talking cat like in the anime.)
Mina spends the manga accepting and fulfilling her role as a guardian of justice. As Sailor Venus, Mina fights the Dark Agency, which continuously tries to steal energy from humans and destroy the world. Their plots often involve idols, music, and animals. Most of the enemies are creative and attention-grabbing, but they’re not as scary as I remember some of the Sailor Moon villains being.
Much like in the anime/manga produced later on, this manga gives real insight into women’s issues. Like other women, Mina deals with others’ expectations of how she should perform femininity. In the sailor scout tradition of busting gender norms, people scold Mina for not being ladylike enough and she constantly deals with gender expectations. For instance, when Mina is playing games at the arcade, Artemis says to her, “Mina, you act like a guy. You love games, and you’re the only girl in this game center.”
Even a sailor scout like Mina deals with body image issues. Although Mina’s the goddess of Venus (the planet of love and beauty), she still initially deals with insecurities regarding her attractiveness. One thing’s clear: If Sailor Venus has down days with her self-esteem, then anyone else can as well.
There are traces of Sailor Moon in this manga. For instance, in order to transform into Sailor Venus, Mina shouts, “Moon power transform!” Usagi only appears in a handful of panels, but honestly, if I hadn’t watched the anime, I wouldn’t have known how relevant she’d become later on. Like in the anime, Sailor Venus is a celebrity.
Getting to know Sailor Venus beyond her role as Sailor Moon’s sidekick was rewarding. If only we were given the opportunity to read a manga about every sailor scout’s story! For the time being, this is the most personal perspective of Sailor Venus’s life you’ll ever officially get. The ending also comes with a satisfying surprise…
Sailor Moon is known for being especially positive about LGBTQ+ people, but Codename: Sailor V has a couple of problematic instances involving homophobia and transphobia involving triggering language. This includes the use of the word “fag.”
At one point, Mina says to Artemis, “You’ve got some nerve to talk, fag-cat!”
Surprised and dismayed, Artemis replies, “Fag?!”
There’s also at least one instance of transphobia in this manga. An enemy transforms from a (supposedly male) doctor into a mosquito-woman. In response, Sailor Venus says, “What! You fraud! All along you were a woman!”
This plays into the stereotype that transgender people are deceptive or evil. As a genderfluid person, I can’t ignore stuff like this. However, if you can get past these problematic instances and enjoy Codename: Sailor V anyway, I highly recommend this manga to you.