Sailor Moon, Vol. 4
By Naoko Takeuchi
Kodansha Comics, 248 pp
Rating: T +(Older Teens)
Naoko Takeuchi’s classic shojo series, Sailor Moon rolls on with it’s fourth volume! As Sailor Moon and her allies continue their battle against the enigmatic Black Moon forces, the mysteries surrounding the conflict finally come to light. Who are Black Moon, and what is their ultimate goal? And just what is Chibi-Usa’s role in all of this? The answers lie within Sailor Moon, Vol. 4!
The volume really is a rather large info dump. Detailed and perhaps even confusing explanations regarding several of the mysteries are given. The origins of the Black Moon forces, Chibi-Usa and more are laid bare, and they carry some rather heavy weight for Sailor Moon and company. The revelations seem bound to affect the relationships which form the heart of the series, particularly that of Usagi and Mamoru (Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask for the uninitiated). While the relationships are generally the driving force and emotional core of the story, I couldn’t help but feel a fair amount of this volume was plot heavy. Perhaps it’s just the nature of something this information heavy, or the fact that about half the cast is missing, but it really seemed like the character’s emotions and relationships took a bit of a back seat. That said there are some high points in those areas. Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship takes a rather large step forward, though Usagi’s insecurities regarding their relationship feel a bit forced. I get jealously and insecurity, but considering the person who seems to be stirring these up, it just feels wrong and makes her come off as horribly petty and almost unlikable at times. The translation still seems a bit stiff and awkward in places, but it’s far from unreadable.
The artwork is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s definitely not really my thing, but the story and characters are enough for me to get by it. That said it’s hard to ignore how awkward and unclear certain scenes and transitions are. Combat is fast and short, with the visual and story emphasizing the emotions and relationships over the clash of Sailor Moon and her enemies. At time the visuals are almost laughably bad, with certain shots of characters hands or ankles being so anatomically off and awkward looking that you can’t help but wonder how the characters bend their bodies into that form or support themselves on those legs. Then things switch and you get lavish and beautiful scenes of Mamoru and Usagi holding each other, or the lovely chapter breaks.
Sailor Moon continues to be a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are some genuinely good moments and interesting plots, the character interaction and the friendship between the scouts works for me, but those are all largely absent from this volume and it suffers as a result. The artwork is deeply uneven and a few panels were almost laughably bad. Despite that I remain fascinated and interested in this series, not just from a historical perspective, but I’m genuinely curious to see what other twists and turns Naoko Takeuchi has in store, and I’m especially curious to see how the rest of the Scouts will be introduced and what roles they’ll be playing in future volumes.
Sailor Moon, Vol. 4 is available now from Kodansha Comics.