Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Feb 7th 2014
Sailor Moon Short Stories
Luna falls in love with a human astronaut who has been targeted by an evil snow creature from space, Rei reflects on her family life and why she will never allow herself to fall in love, and we meet Mamoru and Usagi's second daughter in an alternate universe in this final collection of short stories from the Sailor Moon universe.
The second and final volume of Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon short stories make up for the lackluster first. Where those were silly romps that had little bearing on the characters or main story, two of the three included here provide actual development and fit in with plot elements of the arc they come from, helping to make this a worthy addition to your collection.
The first story, “Princess Kaguya's Love,” is also the longest, taking up three-quarters of the volume. The plot focuses on Luna, the black cat who serves as Usagi's adviser. Luna has been feeling a bit neglected by Artemis, Minako's white (male) cat, and despite the fact that the two will have a kitten in the future, Luna feels very little love for him. One day while out walking she encounters some children who cover her crescent moon with band-aids, robbing her of the power of speech. Dizzily wandering around, she is almost hit by a car, but is saved by a man named Kakeru Ohzora. Kakeru takes Luna home and nurses her back to health, removing the band-aids and feeding her konpeito, sugar candies shaped a bit like stars. Luna quickly finds herself falling in love with him, despite the difference in their species. This serves as the backdrop for the more typical Sailor Moon plot: a mysterious icy comet is on a collision course with Earth. Kakeru, who discovered the comet and named it “Princess Snow Kaguya,” is being adversely affected by a shard of it that fell from the sky. Meanwhile his childhood love Himeko is hoping to join the next NASA mission, but, unaware of Kakeru's deteriorating health, thinks that he has simply given up on joining her. It will take both Luna and the Sailor Guardians to get everything back on track for a happy ending.
But can there really be one? Sure, Earth can be saved from an Andersen-style Snow Queen, but what about Luna's heart? It is this conflict that really makes this story work, showing Luna as a rounder character than she has been previously, and also reminding us that the “future” the Guardians are working towards really is very far ahead. Takeuchi handles the competing love stories of Luna/Kakeru and Kakeru/Hime nicely, never making us feel that Luna's is somehow less important. The folkloric elements of this story are also well done, mixing the Princess Kaguya legend – itself a major founding theme of the Sailor Moon story – with “The Snow Queen” and more typical shoujo fare. All in all it is easy to see why this story became the basis for the Sailor Moon S movie, as it more than carries itself.
The second tale in the volume, “Casa Blanca Memory,” takes place during the first arc of the main story, before Minako/Venus arrives on the scene. The main character here is Rei, Sailor Mars, as Takeuchi explores her backstory. While the plot of a girl abandoned first by her father and then by the man she had come to rely on is very compelling on its own, what makes this story particularly interesting is its ties to the past. Some fans may be familiar with this image from the first Sailor Moon artbook, of the Inner Guardians paired off with Prince Endymion's protectors. “Casa Blanca Memory” expands on it a little, with implications about Mars' failed love with Jadeite in the past carrying over into her present life. This is an intriguing glimpse into something Takeuchi never really developed, to say nothing of fan fiction fodder, and it makes the sometimes inscrutable Rei into a more understandable character as well. This is a girl who has to stand on her own – everyone she's ever tried to rely on has left her.
The volume's final story was never included in any of the original manga volumes, but instead was written for a 1999 book. “Parallel Sailor Moon” is the weakest tale in the book, looking at Usagi's younger daughter Ko-Usagi in a parallel dimension where all of the original Sailors have grown up and their children are the ones fighting. It's cute and a bit trite, coming off as more of an excuse to draw new bun-based hairstyles, so luckily it is also the shortest. It is interesting to compare its art to that in the earlier stories, however, as you can really see how Takeuchi's style has improved.
Because all three stories were written at different times, there is a fair amount of variety in the art. “Princess Kaguya's Love” uses some of the most interesting designs, and Takeuchi provides her inspiration for both that and a music box in “Casa Blanca Memory.” Kodansha's translation uses a few awkward phrases that don't quite scan in English (although they are perfectly understandable), and with some of the best liner notes of any of the series' volumes, this is, for the most part, a very well put together book.
With Takeuchi's record of visiting NASA, a detailed Sailor Moon time line, and some segments that are far less romantic than Takeuchi's usual tone – such as Hime growing frustrated that men keep telling her to give up on going to space and to just get married like a good girl – Sailor Moon Short Stories' final volume is a good read. Even if you were disappointed by the first one, check this one out – it once again manages to capture all of the things that made us love the series in the first place.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+
+ First two stories are very good, some interesting statements about working women that Takeuchi tended to stay away from in the main story. Lots of good notes in the back.
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