Thursday, 7 September 2017

Naoko Takeuchi's "Codename: Sailor V"

So I think this is something new for me, particularly since it’s been a very long while since my last review. But I am going to look at ‘Codename: Sailor V’, a manga series by Naoko Takeuchi (she created ‘Sailor Moon’ if you aren’t familiar, which is kind of a big deal to me).

First of all, I don’t know how great a review can be when I’m not reading it in its original language (that goes for all books, even translations I have reviewed in the past), but given I know ‘Sailor Moon’ has had at least two different English translations, I know that there is a need to balance between trusting a translation and wondering how correct it is. I may have never really thought about it as much in the past; I guess as I have become older, it has become more important. Does that mean I should review something more poorly because it is a translation? No, I don’t think so. I think that I review it and hope that it is as full a text as the original. So let’s see how I go.

Another difference outside of the fact that this series is manga, is that there are two volumes to make up a complete story and I will review them as a whole. Again, maybe not the wisest decision as one volume could be much more strongly written than the other, but I’ll do it anyway and you can let me know what you think if it goes horribly wrong.

The story follows a young girl of thirteen years of age, Minako Aino, who becomes a superhero meant to champion justice for the world (though let’s face it, it’s mostly Japan). Basically, that’s it. They are individual stories collected in two volumes to show the progression of her growth and purpose as she continues on this path, and whether this champion of justice is her true calling as a hero. 

As a character, I could argue she is flawed, but it makes her more relatable: a teenage girl trying to be a hero without really having the characteristics of what a true hero is supposed to have. However, Minako is able to come through her battles in the end, like a successful hero, so maybe she reflects the ability to be a hero even when we appear like we aren’t. 

The artwork is beautifully drawn and the story is generally easily to follow (though sometimes I feel like there is a panel missing as I feel like I missed a part of the plot, or maybe this was a translation issue or just a simple misreading). The publication from Kodansha Comics I read has some colour panels at the beginning of each volume, which is a good quality, at least in my eyes, to see how Takeuchi created the looks and colours of her art. I also enjoyed the translation notes at the back for the Japanese cultural tones and jokes placed in the text that the translator has tried to leave in. They even explain why things would have been funny in the original translation that gets lost when in English.

I did think the ‘pet chapters’ were out of place and not necessary as I felt they didn’t add anything much to the overall plot or bottom line of the story, though they are fun for the reader. I did feel like they dragged the story, however. 

Overall, I enjoyed the lightness of the story and to read the lead up to ‘Sailor Moon’. I would recommend it for tweens or young adult readers, given the content and the age of Minako. However, there’s no reason older or younger readers couldn’t enjoy these two volumes, I just don’t know if they would love them. Being a much bigger fan of ‘Sailor Moon’ myself, means I read it because it was a precursor just as much as reading it for its own value. Oh, and if you do pick these up, remember to read them from right to left. 

3.5 / 5

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