Category Archives: Anime

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #12 + Retrospective

This is it. This is the final review for the Sailor Moon manga series. It seems like I’ve been reviewing this series for years and I only bought the sets in January.

I love the cover for this one, btw. All the covers are great though.

Sailor Moon is on her own. Her friends and allies are being picked off left and right, and all she can do is seek out Sailor Galaxia for a final epic confrontation that will determine the fate of the galaxy and the cosmos.

No pressure.

This volume is basically one drawn out conflict between Sailor Galaxia and Sailor Moon. This is when the gloves come off and we see how much Sailor Moon has changed from the clumsy girl who really needed Tuxedo Mask to rescue her in her first few battles to a young woman with faith in herself and her friends (even when she’s scared out of her wits).

There’s really not much I can say about #12 other than the fact that it’s pretty much all action, all the time with a few brief pauses for origin stories, because who doesn’t love origin stories? And this time, the epic final battle actually feels epic (basically the opposite of how I felt the Nemesis arc ended). The chips are down and the cards are on the table.

I am so glad Kodansha got their act in gear and hired a translator who didn’t literally translate everything, because this volume could have been much more confusing. Again, I did notice some spelling errors, but overall, I’m relieved that at least the last few volumes were given the translation I’ve been waiting for since the very beginning.

So, since there’s not much more for me to say about #12, here are some thoughts after reading the entire series.

As I’ve said consistently (I just said it above) it’s such a shame that the translation was handled so poorly, especially for a series as popular as Sailor Moon. Seriously, this is why you don’t listen to the purists who think that everything must be absolutely as close to the Japanese as possible, because what you end up with is this mess.

Which arc was my favourite? I really liked the Infinity arc and thought that it had a very strong beginning. The Dream arc was also great, as we got to spend a bit more time with the Inner Senshi, and learn more about their dreams and plans for the future. I love the Stars arc, finding out about other Sailor Guardians all across the galaxy, although, why are there guardians of planetoids and satellites but no Sailor Sun?

Probably because she’d just steamroll over everything if she was ever introduced.

Well I guess technically Endymion is the unofficial Sailor Earth and Sailor Sun.

Other things of note, the box art for the sets is gorgeous and when you put both sets together it makes a full picture of the main cast. The stickers are adorable but I’m not going to use them at all (I have a thing against using feelies). I love the cover art for the individual volumes (although the third edition covers are absolutely gorgeous). Sadly, even if the third edition is translated into English, this will probably be the only version of the manga I will own, although I’d take a look to see if the translations are actually decent.

Overall, this is such a great series. I grew up with the characters through the anime and I met some characters for the first time while reading the manga. It’s just such a shame such a classic has been given such a lackluster translation, although apparently not the worst translation, which is actually pretty scary when you think about it.

Anyways, the lackluster translation was probably my biggest complaint overall. The art was great, and I definitely thought the storylines improved over time even though the format essentially stayed the same (ie. the Monster of the Week plots) there were enough variations to keep things interesting.

Honestly, even with the lackluster translation, this is still a great series and if you are the one person who likes magical girls and hasn’t bought this, I’d say it’s still worth a buy unless you want to wait and see if the third edition’s being translated.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #11

The finish line is in sight, everyone, only one more volume after this and it will be all over!

Volume 11 introduces us to the final arc in the series, the Stars arc. After defeating Queen Nehellania, the sailor guardians return to their normal lives, and Mamoru leaves to study at Harvard in America. Now is no time to rest on their laurels, however, as the arrival of a popular band heralds the coming of a new enemy.

This arc introduces us to sailor guardians who watch over heavenly bodies outside of the solar system, including the Sailor Starlights, guardians who caused some controversy when their season of the anime first debuted in some countries.

In terms of story, this arc does a much better job of not blatantly hanging a sign that says “obvious villain” over some characters’ heads. I was even pleasantly surprised during one reveal that I won’t spoil. It does return to the Monster of the Week format, but with a bit of a twist this time to keep things interesting and add some tension. Ironically, the thing that bothered me most were the Starlights themselves, particularly Seiya, like can you not with Usagi while Mamoru is away? I just didn’t really like them as characters. They were like three Mamorus when he was in jerkass mode.

The art is once again great and the translation is finally the quality translation it should have been since the very beginning, although I did notice some spelling errors. Still, compared to the mess of earlier volumes, I can handle a few mistakes. Overall this arc is great and once again, it’s really a shame that we’re only now getting a great translation.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #10

Oh look, another review of a volume of Sailor Moon.

Volume 10 continues and concludes the Dream arc, where we learn a little more about the Dead Moon Circus and their motivations, and the origins of Queen Nehellania’s curse on Elysion. This arc has been all about duality: dreams and nightmares, the Amazoness Quartet vs. the Inner Senshi, Elysion and Earth, and Dead Moon vs. Silver Millennium, and now we get to see how it all comes together in this volume.

Unlike the other volumes in this series, I devoured this one in record time because–insert the Alleluia Chorus here–Kodansha apparently got a new translator so the translation is MUCH, MUCH better (although it is kind of too little too late considering this is #10 of a 12 volume set) I didn’t have to pause and try to understand what they were trying to say. The characters finally started to sound like real people instead of automatons. It was just a great read and seriously why couldn’t they have just translated it like this from the start? About the only weird moment is in a scene from the past where the characters start speaking in Ye Olde Butcherde Englishe and the way characters are still saying “Queen” instead of “Your Majesty” is just really annoying. Still, it’s certainly a vast improvement from the tragedy every other volume has been so far.

In short, the story continues to be great, the art is great, and the translation (apart from a couple hiccups) is now great, it’s such a pity this series had to suffer from such a lackluster translation until now.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #9

Are you getting tired of these yet? Don’t worry, three more volumes to go!

A lot of stuff happens in volume 9. In my last review, I mentioned the eclipse and the arrival of Helios and the Dead Moon Circus. This volume begins with an incident involving body-swapping and then segues into the more familiar “Monster of the Week” format.

This volume mostly brings the focus back to the four Inner Senshi, with each one getting their own chapter. As its name might suggest, the Dream arc is about dreams and nightmares, and we get to hear about each of the Guardians’ dreams and how those dreams ultimately grant them new powers.

Once again, Chibiusa’s struggling with the feeling that she doesn’t bring anything valuable to the group and trying to come into her own as a Guardian. I kind of thought she would have learned that lesson last arc, but apparently it didn’t stick. At one point, the action “cuts” to scenes with Hotaru and her three mothers, well, two mamas and one “papa” who also happens to be a woman. I’ll admit I was a little annoyed that it cut to fun times with Hotaru just before a particularly tense moment, but honestly these scenes were kind of cute so I don’t mind that much.

The one issue I had was that it seemed like the body-swapping was resolved very abruptly and the translation really didn’t help clear anything up. (See, this is why it’s important to have a good translation.) It’s another one of those plots that could have easily taken up a whole volume but nothing was really done with it (similar to when I discussed Raenef’s personality switch in Demon Diary).

The translation appears to be much better this time around, and once again there’s some great pacing, and some really tense, exciting moments. This volume is definitely a winner all around, definitely one of my favourites.

Stay tuned for #10!

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #7

I just realized that wow the new anime is coming (and Viz Media just snagged the license for the original series and are subbing and dubbing the anime in English, completely uncut and I just wow) so I really need to get on top of these reviews.

 

 

Vol. 7 continues the Infinity arc. This is a rather thick volume compared to the others, so there’s a lot going on. There’s more Monster of the Week mayhem, of course, but we also get more insights into the “Outer Senshi”: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto and their mission, and some things about Sailor Saturn. We see Chibiusa trying to be a bit more independent and continuing to make nice with Hotaru, and Sailor Jupiter gets some time in the limelight where her love of gardening becomes a plot point.

Once again, the pacing in this volume is great. The reader isn’t bombarded with pages of exposition and there’s a good mix of action and tense moments to balance out the times when the scouts are out of uniform.

As usual, the translation has its painfully awkward moments, including a line that suggests that Sailor Uranus is intersex (what it actually means is that she has both feminine and masculine qualities). Which, again, doesn’t mean the series is unreadable, it’s just a shame that such a great series got such a lackluster translation.

Overall I actually wasn’t expecting to blow through this volume so quickly, the fact that I did says something about the improved pacing. Now if only I could wave a magic wand and make the translation not suck.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #6

We’ve finally arrived at the last volume in the first box set, halfway to reading the entire series.

This volume kicks off the Infinity arc. A lot happens in this volume. We’re introduced to a new group of villains, and two mysterious new Sailor Guardians, Neptune and Uranus, appear with their own agenda. Meanwhile, Chibiusa makes a new friend, Hotaru, who seems to have some connection to incidents involving students from an elite school turning into monsters.

So the first couple of arcs were great, but the last arc in particular seemed rushed. The pacing in this volume is great, and other characters besides Usagi and Mamoru actually get a chance to hog the spotlight (particularly Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus, who absolutely steal every scene that they’re in). This volume also contains a Mercury-centric chapter, which makes me happy.

At this point it appears like someone finally got to Kodansha about the translation, because the dialogue seems much more natural now. I’m still scratching my head over the way Haruka’s last name is rendered as “Ten’o” (which is apparently correct but isn’t really how your average Japanese speaker would write it). That doesn’t mean there aren’t awkward moments, but the entire volume is much more readable now, and I’m glad they appear to have made an effort to fix things (or maybe I’m just used to the awkwardness and I didn’t notice). It still sucks that you have to stick around for five volumes of awkwardness, but if so, this one’s a treat to read, trust me.

Also, Haruka and Michiru are definitely not cousins. I just thought I’d make that clear.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #5

We’re almost through with the first Sailor Moon box set!

So, to recap, when we last left our heroes, Chibiusa encountered the Wiseman beyond the Door of Space and Time. Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter are still out of action, and we got a lot of backstory about Nemesis and its history with Neo Crystal Tokyo.

Overall I found this volume kind of confusing. On the one hand you have Tuxedo Mask trying to rescue Chibiusa, you have Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus trying to find the scouts (also Prince Demande is really pushy) but then you have the appearance of the Black Lady. Once again, the incredibly awkward translation does not help, at all. It’s easy enough to piece together what’s going on, but there were times when I had to pause and ask myself “Wait, what’s going on?” Since this volume concludes the second story arc, everything eventually gets wrapped up, and you have epic betrayals and drama and a character death or two, but it all seems very rushed as if someone really couldn’t wait to just get on with the next arc. (The preview for the next arc looks very intriguing.)

Overall, I’d say that this arc started off strong, but it just seems like between all the exposition and the confusion at the end it wasn’t as epic as it could have been (again, the translation does not help).

Next stop: the Infinity arc!

Review: Phantom Thief Jeanne #1

It’s a manga review double feature today, apparently.

I picked this up on a whim at Comic Con because it looked cute and AMERICAN COVER PRICES FOR EVERYTHING!

….Or just because it looked cute.

As it turns out, I’d heard of this series before (you may know it as Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne) but I never really looked into it. I watch the occasional anime, but I never really got into buying manga until relatively recently (and not only because I just didn’t have the money for it, which I didn’t, but that’s besides the point). The manga was originally published in Japan in 1998 – 2000 and reprinted in 2013. This English edition is the five volume reprint (originally it was released in seven volumes).

By day, Maron Kusakabe is an ordinary high school student, but by night, she’s Phantom Thief Jeanne, who sneaks into private art collections in order to steal the paintings that hide demons inside them, which feed on the hearts of humans. The hardest part of her job seems to be evading the police, but things get complicated when another thief, Phantom Thief Sinbad, arrives on the scene and he’s trying to steal the demon occupied paintings before she does!

I like Maron as a character. Outwardly, she appears to be a very kindhearted person, but inside she has major trust issues, and God help you if you betray her trust. Her banter with her best friend Miyako is always entertaining. Other major characters include Chiaki, who is a jerk who practically has Obvious Love Interest emblazoned on his forehead, Finn Fish, Jeanne’s angelic companion/mascot character, Access Time, another angel who follows Chiaki around, and Yamato Minazuki, the mild-mannered, somewhat nerdy class president with an unrequited crush on Maron. They all have very distinct personalities, and (unlike Sailor Moon) I don’t really have the sense that one character’s development is being privileged over the others.

Comparisons to Sailor Moon are inevitable because I read this at the same time as that series, but Kodansha could really stand to take some notes on how not to do an awkward translation from manga like this. The dialogue sounds more natural in English, and there aren’t any obvious spelling mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, Sailor Moon is great, but reading this was a real treat after putting up with so much awkward phrasing and honorifics.

The art is pretty good. I’m a fan of more detailed art and there’s enough detail to satisfy me, but as usual your mileage may vary.

For triggery things, there’s a moment where a possessed Minazuki tries to force a kiss on Maron, but she is rescued in the nick of time by Chiaki. Chiaki is a jerk who abuses Maron’s trust, and one major theme is parental abandonment/neglect.

Overall though, I’m not sure if I’ll purchase the next one. The characters are interesting, it’s nice to see a protagonist who has issues with trusting people (and who actually sounds like a teenager) the mascot character isn’t a pain in the ass, but it didn’t really grab me, it just kind of took my hand and held it. There’s definitely a nostalgia factor for me (Jeanne reminds me of a more “mature” Cardcaptor Sakura) but, especially when compared with Sailor Moon (which also has a T rating) it seems a bit juvenile. I know that sounds odd since it’s meant for teenagers and I’m almost 30. I suppose that’s due to the series age and the fact that I’ve seen so many magical girl shows at this point that Jeanne just doesn’t affect me the way it might have a decade ago. I would definitely say this was a strong first volume, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to sell me on the rest of the series. In any case, if you’re a fan of magical girls (particularly Cardcaptor Sakura) then I’d say this one is worth a look, even if it’s just a peek.

Review: Sailor Moon Vol. #4

I actually finished this last week but I’m just getting to it now.

This volume continues the “Nemesis” arc, with the sailor guardians facing off against the Black Moon Clan–or they would if they’d stop getting abducted. There’s a ton of exposition: Chibi-Usa’s identity, what the whole deal is with Nemesis, and new insights into Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship. This volume also introduces Sailor Pluto, the mysterious guardian of the Door of Space and Time.

It might just be me, but so far as I’m reading the series I’m finding that the other characters besides Usagi and Mamoru aren’t getting a whole lot of character development. I feel like the villains are being given a bit more depth, but the other scouts don’t really seem to have the same strong characterization that they had in the anime (to be fair, the anime had to pad things out with more characterization).

As usual, the art is great and the translation is awkward. I swear to gods, if I had a dollar for every time Chibi-Usa is addressed as “Small Lady” I’d be too rich to care about this series. At one point during the translation notes, the translator even says “I have no idea what these chemistry terms mean, you look it up,” and I’m just like “Well….okay then……” For those who are interested, I found a website that goes over the translation mistakes/awkwardness in the manga.

Overall, I found #4 to be one of the more exposition-heavy volumes, and I’d like to see more characters get a little more development.

Toronto Comic Con!

Bef0re I hit you with a couple of reviews because I have been reading Sailor Moon like crazy, I thought I’d talk about what I did yesterday. Yesterday I spent the day in Toronto at Comic Con! It was my very first con so I was very excited.

Basically my first impression was that there were too many things, too many things all over the place. You walk in and there’s rows of white boxes with single issues in them. I have no idea how you’re supposed to find anything, but I guess if you’re looking for something really specific then you know where to look. My friend wanted to look at vinyl figurines, so we looked at those (as in, we ran around to about five different places that had them in stock, because my friend had a List). I bought one (Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).

Our next stop was the manga, because I love manga, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted anything at this point. After that we just sort of wandered around, looking at everything. (Seriously, there is a ton of everything at this con.) I had a chat with Jen Frankel, author of  The Last Rite, which is a horror/fantasy supernatural thriller kind of book (I didn’t end up buying it so I thought I’d advertise a bit).

Costumes, you can’t go to a comic con without seeing costumes. There was one guy dressed as the Joker, he was doing such a good job of being the Joker that I was scared of him, and at this one point we had to squeeze by a collection of Batman villains (and Batman) who were just….there….it was very awkward.

So eventually I went back to the manga booth and bought Phantom Thief Jeanne and by that time both of us were hungry, so we stopped to eat. (I don’t know if you know this but the food at events like this tends to be expensive, and this was no exception.)

It was almost time to go but I wanted to make one last sweep because I was looking for Saga #1 f0r no particular reason other than that I heard it was good–and that was when I realized that several places had #1 and #2 (as paperbacks that contain several issues, not single issues) so I was just like “For the US cover price I’ll buy both….”

Then it was time to go catch the bus and go home.

Overall, I would attend again because despite not really being a comics person or involved with very many fandoms (or at least popular fandoms) there was still a lot to see and do and everyone was really nice and the con was free of idiot dudebro harassment of the type I’ve heard about at other cons.