by Rebecca Silverman,

Sailor Moon Short Stories

GN 1

Sailor Moon Short Stories GN 1
This collection of short stories is divided into two “chapters” - the first, “Chibi-Usa's Picture Diary” follows Chibi-Usa's adventures in elementary school and the second, “Exam Battle Stories,” details the exam-time adventures of Ami, Makoto, Minako, and Rei, highlighting their personal struggles. A final goofy chapter features more of Chibi-Usa's friends and their shopping mania.

Originally published after the main story in various volumes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, this first of two books presents the short side stories that mangaka Naoko Takeuchi wrote about the other characters of Sailor Moon. While it was a definite plus to be able to essentially inhale the main storyline of the landmark magical girl series without interruption, reading these shorts can be a bit disconcerting, as they clearly take place during different arcs of the main series, resulting in a bizarre timeline that hops around from R to Stars and touches down everywhere in between. But for a chance to explore the less developed players in Usagi's story, it's almost worth it.

The volume is divided into two main “chapters:” Chibi-Usa's Picture Diary and Exam Battle Stories. The former is the one that suffers the most from time-jumping, with the first story taking place during the so-called “R” arc, the second during “S,” and the third during “SuperS.” While they do go in order, it is nontheless a bit odd to read, especially since Chibi-Usa and her friends do not appear to age, despite a birthday in one story. All three Exam Battle Stories take place between “Stars” and “SuperS,” with the girls getting ready to apply to high school. The final story in the collection, the truly bizarre “The Secret Hammer Price Hall,” features both child Hotaru and a Mamoru shopping to go to Harvard, therefore clearly taking place just before the events of the main story's final arc.

Since Chibi-Usa arguably gets more development over the course of the main story than the other sailor guardians, her stories are somewhat less interesting than theirs. In each of her Picture Diary tales, Chibi-Usa and her friends Momoko and Kyusuke face off against a supernatural enemy, either a spirit or, in one case, a vampire. In the first story Sailor Moon and Sailor V have to show up to save the day, but the latter two allow Chibi-Usa to do the saving herself, as she has the ability to transform. It is definitely a bit strange that Minako chooses to show up in her Sailor V guise rather than her Sailor Venus self, and one gets the feeling that Takeuchi was simply having fun with her characters and playing with a lighter type of story than trying to tell us something new about them. This changes in the Exam tales, each of which focus on the Inner Senshi: Makoto and Ami each get their own stories and Minako and Rei share one, although in all honesty it is far more Minako's story than Rei's. While all three are sillier and feel much more like the monster-of-the-week format of the TV show, we do learn more about the characters, giving them a bit more depth than they were allowed during the main story. Makoto in particular becomes more well-rounded, as we come to understand why she is so bent on homemaking and romance beyond just assuming that she's portraying a feminine stereotype. Ami's story has the least development for its heroine, as we really get no depth beyond “Ami really is invested in her education,” although parts of it are quite funny. The third installment, about Minako trying to understand Rei better, has elements of the second volume of Code Name: Sailor V in that it revisits some of Mina's insecurities and quirks. Rei remains fairly undeveloped, but we do see a bit more of a vulnerable side to her as Minako desperately tries to deepen their friendship.

The final stand-alone tale, “Hammer Price Hall,” is the most lighthearted but also the weakest in the collection, focusing on Chibi-Usa's brand-crazed kogyaru pals. The girls bear distinct physical similarities to the heroines of Takeuchi's short-lived series PQ Angels, which would be fine (and is certainly interesting) were they not supposed to be in elementary school. The girls are drawn as sexy teens and spend a great deal of the chapter vamping it up, which is a little disturbing. They are not the only little girls to suffer from overdevelopment, however, as Momoko has a perfect hourglass figure in the third grade. While this is not medically unheard of, it is a bit strange, and when paired with the other little girl characters with distinct figures, it is easy to simply conclude that Takeuchi cannot draw pre-pubescent bodies. The art does run the complete gamut of Takeuchi's skill level over the course of the original Sailor Moon manga simply by virtue of the fact that the stories were written as she was working on the main tale. This isn't really a problem, however, and only the closest readers will really notice a difference.

While it is hard to say that the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon short stories really enhance the overall Sailor Moon experience, they are still a fun addition to the series, and its nice to have the chance to read them since they were removed from the main volumes. Fans of Makoto, Minako, and Ami should appreciate a chance to get to know them a little better, and the Chibi-Usa stories are amusing and sweet. If you're done with the story after finishing volume twelve, you won't miss much by not reading this particular book, but for those Sailor Moon fans who can't get enough, this is a chance to hang out with your favorite characters just a little bit longer.

Production Info:
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+

+ Takeuchi's art is still lovely and flowing with impressive whiplash lines. Return of Sailor V for those who have missed her, the Makoto and Minako stories do give the characters some more development.
Final story is not as good as the others, little girls with adult bodies are a bit strange. Not much development for Ami even in her own short story.

Story & Art: Naoko Takeuchi

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