by Naoko Takeuchi
To see reviews of the previous books in the Sailor Moon series, click here. This review does contain spoilers.
Usagi and her friends are finally living normal lives, hanging out at the local arcade after school and preparing to take their high school entrance exams. However, dark stirrings at a mysterious complex called Mugenzu [infinity sandbank] threaten to interrupt the peace of Tokyo. Mugenzu is the home of the acclaimed Mugen Academy, a school known for its star-studded enrollment. Two of its students attract the attention of Sailor Moon: Haruka Ten’ô and Michiru Kaiô. Haruka is a handsome race car driver and Michiru is a renowned violinist – both are rising celebrities in their respective fields. Sailor Moon’s interest is for an entirely different reason – she suspects the two students of being two new planetary guardians! But if these two are truly Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, why didn’t Sailor Moon or the other warriors know about them? Where did they come from, and what secrets are they hiding?
This volume of Sailor Moon introduces two of the most controversial figures in the franchise’s history: Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. The two characters are lovers, and they probably would have been the first exposure of many kids in my generation to homosexual characters on TV - had the American producers not decided to explain away the two characters’ affection as the result of their being “cousins”. Back in 2000, when the American dub first aired on Cartoon Network, superhero lesbians just weren’t happening. The fan outcry to this change is always the first thing I remember when I think about these characters, even though I never watched the dubbed version of their episodes, and their relationship was never rewritten in the manga.
The androgyny of Haruka, the ‘masculine’ half of the couple, is really played up in the manga. The character appears as both male and female, depending on the scene, and it’s not merely a matter of switching from a square-shouldered blazer to a deep-cut, cleavage-exposing neckline. Haruka’s physical shape changes so dramatically that her male and female appearance can’t be the same person – the waist, shoulders, etc. simply don’t match in size. Takeuchi has said that she intentionally drew the character this way, with physically different ‘male’ and ‘female’ forms. It’s an interesting way to tie the character to the ‘third gender’ found in some theories of homosexuality, including Uranism – named for the same Greek sky god as the planet. I don’t think I made that connection at all when I read this as a teenager, but it really stood out to me as I re-read the story.
The villains have become even more cardboard-like than ever before. The members of the Witches 5, as the current crop of baddies is called, are apparently trying to ‘level up’ so that they can communicate directly with their master, Pharaoh 90. (Like a video game?) Like all standard Sailor Moon villains, they seek human energy/souls/vitality and serve a greater, more powerful boss, but beyond that we know nothing. This is the trouble of Takeuchi’s never-ending parade of wicked beings: they appear and disappear so quickly that after a certain point, they cease to matter. I remember this being less of a problem in the anime, which had the luxury of time and was able to develop the various bad guys to a much deeper level.
3.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Sailor Moon Vol. 6, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5) by Rick Riordan
2010: Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
2009: Giveaway #11: The Virgin’s Daughter by Jeane Westin
2008: Book Bloggers Appreciation Week: Kiva.org Giveaway