Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Vol. 1 is the first of a series of new reprints from Kodansha Comics of the original Sailor Moon manga by Takeuchi Naoko. These new editions feature a larger format, a holographic cover, and a section of translation notes at the end. Does this new edition live up to the iconic franchise’s pedigree?
This volume is a straight reprint of the first seven chapters of the classic manga with an updated translation, so I won’t be doing a deep review of the story itself in this review. For readers who may be new to Sailor Moon, this is the story of one Tsukino Usagi, crybaby middle school student by daylight, crybaby crime fighter by moonlight. As she gradually accepts her role as leader of the Sailor Guardians, similarly sailor-suited young women with magical abilities representative of their guardian planet, she becomes more resolute in her responsibilities. In this volume however, she’s still very new and very overwhelmed by her role in the fight against the Dark Kingdom, who’s goal is to drain Earth’s humans of their life energy for their evil ruler. The updated translation alters very little, maintaining the integrity of the plot while making some stylistic changes for the sake of clarity.
The translation notes at the back shed a lot of light onto the translators’ process, explaining choices they made like choosing the phrase “Moon Wand” over “Moon Stick” whenever Usagi brandishes her magical, moon-crested item which enhances her abilities. In this particular example, they explain how the word “stick” was often used for wands in magical girl fiction because of how closely it resembled the word for “beautiful”or “dreamy” in Japanese. This is only one of the many notes in the last section of the book which not only shed some light on the translation process, but also on the origins of some of Takeuchi’s naming conventions.
The larger format of the book allows Takeuchi’s art to shine and after reading this edition I can’t imagine experiencing the story any other way. The blown-up illustrations really show off the rich portraiture, detailed fantasy accoutrement, and cartoonisly over-the-top facial expressions, the last of which usually come from Usagi or her talking cat and guiding source of wisdom, Luna. Takeuchi’s artwork is so richly detailed that it’s almost intoxicating to look at, especially in this larger format that lets you see the details of her brush strokes, such as the countless lines used to render character’s eyes, making them as expressive as they are beautiful.
Beauty is the name of the game in Sailor Moon and the formatting of the book lends itself to letting the reader better appreciate that beauty, making this truly the definitive edition Kodansha advertises it to be. They even space the artwork out a little bit away from whichever edge of the page would get lost as it drifts into the binding in the center. It’s a small detail, but one that makes a world of difference when viewing two-page spreads. Though there is a space which breaks the spread apart, I’m happy to accept that over missing out on a few inches of the artwork.
Overall, Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Vol.1 is the edition to pickup for readers new to the series, as well as for longtime fans looking to re-experience the classic in the format that best shows Takeuchi’s genre-defining artwork. Diehard Sailor Moon fans on the fence about picking up this volume should also know there are new, full-color cover illustrations at the start of each chapter that they won’t want to miss.