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Manga

A ’90s Manga That Really Holds Up

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Emily Martin

Contributing Editor

Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals (www.booksquadgoals.com). She can be reached at emily.ecm@gmail.com.

Welcome to Read This Book, your go-to newsletter if you’re looking to expand your TBR pile. Each week, I’ll recommend a book I think is an absolute must-read. Some will be new releases, some will be old favorites, and the books will vary in genre and subject matter every time. I hope you’re ready to get reading!

Have you revisited Sailor Moon since it first came out in the ’90s? It really holds up. I loved the anime and the manga back in the day. Around the time of the pandemic, I rewatched the original series and picked up the newer Eternal Editions of the manga, and I’ve been 100% back in the Sailor Moon fandom since then. I’ve posted about it on Book Riot. But whether you’re already a huge fan of Sailor Moon or you’ve never heard of it before, here’s a great place to start. And it’s a manga you might have missed!

codename sailor v book cover

Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi

Before there was Sailor Moon, there was Sailor V. The series first appeared as a one-shot in the manga magazine RunRun in 1991. I wonder if author Naoko Takeuchi could have possibly known then that she was about to launch one of the most popular manga series of all time. And it all started right here, with a young 13 year-old girl named Minako Aino, who just wants to find a boyfriend and fall in love.

What she finds instead is a white cat with a crescent moon on his forehead. What’s more, this cat can talk. He says his name is Artemis and that Minako is actually Sailor Venus, a guardian of the planet Venus whose duty it is to protect Earth. Whaaaat? With the help of Artemis and her magical pen that helps her transform into the Soldier of Justice: Sailor V, Minako fights against the Dark Agency and protects the world from evil. So much for searching for a boyfriend after school!

As Minako learns more about her true identity and her mission, she discovers that there are other Sailor Guardians like her, and so the ending of this series expertly sets up the beginning of the series we all know and love, Sailor Moon. Sailor Venus realizes that to truly save Earth, she will have to set out to find her companions, the other four Sailor Guardians, as well as the Moon Princess.

Sailor Moon diehards, if you’re wondering why you maybe missed this manga series before, it might have been because it was never released in English in the ’90s. In fact, English-speaking fans didn’t have an opportunity to read a translated version until 2011. Now with the Eternal Editions, you can read the whole Codename: Sailor V series in two volumes. And I just have to say, these are absolutely stunning.

Everyone talks about how Naoko Takeuchi’s manga, featuring strong (but beautifully flawed) teenage girls (and talking cats), is so empowering and uplifting. But I feel like we’re not talking enough about how gorgeous her illustrations are. I had to own all of these Eternal Editions (both Codename: Sailor V and aaallll the Sailor Moon volumes) because each one features all-new holographic cover illustrations and giant colored images throughout. It’s so gorgeous. If I could, I would buy two so I could cut up one and put it all over my wall. Unfortunately, I’m not a 13-year-old girl anymore, so that’s not really socially acceptable home decor…but I’ve thought about it.

If you’ve never thought about picking up Codename: Sailor V before, this edition is the one to get. Start the best-selling manga series where it all began, and learn a lot more about everyone’s favorite Libra Sailor Guardian, Sailor Venus (yay Libras!).


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