Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) is a mahou shoujo (magical girl) manga series that was published in Japan from 1992-1997. Sailor Moon broke new ground by being the first manga to combine the popular magical girl genre shoujo manga and the shounen sentai action genre. This unique hybrid made the series a hit when the series was adapted into an anime. Neither magical girl nor sentai stories exist in mainstream American comicbooks, but they’ve become popular imports following the manga explosion of the late 1990′s that was sparked by the popularity of Sailor Moon. In the spring of 1992, the appearance of the Sailor Moon series in books and on television gave birth to the new fantasy-action genre of girl battle teams.
Origin of the “Sailor-Suited Heroine for Justice”
The basis for Sailor Moon was a story called Codename wa Sailor V, which first appeared as a special in Run-Run, a sister publication to the popular manga magazine for young girls, Nakayoshi. The creator, Naoko Takeuchi, had previously published a few of short stories and short romance series in Nakayoshi. In the 1990s the magazine began focusing on fantasy series such as Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura, which became massively popular anime series. In the summer of 1991, Naoko was drawing her longest serial to-date, The Cherry Project (3 volumes). For the launch of Run-Run, she was given the offer to draw a one-shot story of anything she liked. She said she would like to try a superheroine story, as she was a big fan of “allies for justice” shows like tokusatsu heroes and sentai teams. Her editor gave her the idea for “sailor-suited allies of justice” and the sailor-suited pretty soldier for justice, “Sailor V” was born. The seeraa fuku (“sailor suit”) is a popular symbol of the junior highschool girl in Japan, and using cute, colourful versions of school uniforms as battlesuits for the young superheroines was sure method to catch the attention of young girls. Sailor Moon is firmly based in the magical girl tradition in which standard feminine items like school clothes, lockets, and beauty products are turned into powerful talismans for the magically endowed heroine.
Codename: Sailor V caught the eye of TV Asahi, who approached Naoko about turning her manga into a TV anime. The manga would be relaunched as a regular series in Nakayoshi while appearing simultaneously as a TV anime, for maximum cross-market exposure. A new, expanded series with an extended storyline was planned, what would debut in February 1992 as Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. Early plans for the series were based on Sailor Venus, not Sailor Moon, as the main character, with a white cat and a masked man similar to Tuxedo Kamen. This was to be called Bishoujo Senshi Sailor V, as appears in this advertisement for the series that appeared in Nakayoshi the month before the series began.
Codename wa Sailor V
While Sailor Moon became the star of the new series, Sailor V continued to appear simultaneously in her own prequel series. In addition to the monthly Sailor Moon chapters in Nakayoshi, Run-Run continued to periodically feature light-hearted Codename: Sailor V chapters of Minako’s solo adventures as Sailor V, along with Artemis, that took place before she joined the Sailor Team. Once a year Naoko published a special “ChibiUsa’s Picture Diary” chapter in Run-Run, later collected with the Sailor Moon tankoubon. In total, three volumes of Codename wa Sailor V were compiled, with the final Sailor V chapter being published in November 1997, 8 months after the conclusion of Sailor Moon’s serialization. Translations of the entire series are available at The Manga of Takeuchi Naoko.
“The pretty girls in sailor suits action series”
The above tagline is printed on the back of every Sailor Moon tankoubon (original edition). Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon ran monthly in Nakayoshi from February 1992 to March 1997. A total of 52 installments were compiled into 18 collected volumes. These volumes also include the bonus side stories from Nakayoshi and its sister magazine Run-Run: 4 chapters of “ChibiUsa’s Picture Diary”, the 3 “Exam Battles”, “Casablanca Memory”, and “The Lover of Princess Kaguya” (the basis for the Sailor Moon S movie). Translations of the entire series are available at The Manga of Takeuchi Naoko.
Five illustrations collections were released for Sailor Moon which collected the original color illustrations of each year drawn by Naoko for each chapter, supplements, Nakayoshi covers, etc. The artbooks also included new art. Each year of the manga has a corresponding artbook, the fifth being released a few months after the last chapter of Sailor Moon was published. There are no artbooks for Sailor V.
Following the completion of Sailor Moon and Sailor V, Naoko published a doujinshi artbook called The Original Art Collection of Sailor Moon: Volume Infinity. Volume Infinity is a collection of colour and black & white illustrations and personal messages by Takeuchi and her friends reflecting their individual visions of Sailor Moon. This self-published book was printed in small numbers and distributed only in Japan at Comiket 1997 (Summer). In 1999 a memorial sketch book called the Sailor Moon Materials Collection was released. This is a collection of sketches and profiles of all the characters used in creating the manga. It also features a new short manga called “Parallel Sailor Moon” and some very lovely original illustrations.