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Sailor Moon Vol. 12
by Naoko Takeuchi

To see reviews of previous books in the Sailor Moon series, click here.
This review contains spoilers for the previous volumes in the series.

In this final volume of Sailor Moon, it’s the ultimate showdown between order and chaos as Sailor Moon faces down Sailor Galaxia. They are polar opposites; Sailor Moon fights to protect those she loves while Galaxia exists solely to gain power and test her own strength against others. Backed by Chaos, the malevolent force who has guided every opponent Sailor Moon has ever faced, Galaxia seems unstoppable.

I am so, so conflicted about the ending of Sailor Moon. These final chapters do some things very, very well but also completely fail in critical areas of storytelling. I’ll focus on the positive, first.

For a story about a moon princess who fights in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon has a rich mythos that reaches deeper than most manga even dare to try. Usagi’s growth from flighty teenager to guardian of the Milky Way is a hero’s journey on an epic scale. She has been tested many times before, but never as she is by Chaos and Sailor Galaxia. I don’t mean the physical combat, although having her wings torn out was surely traumatic. Here, Sailor Moon loses everything – friends, family, and her world. She knows that she should stop Chaos, but the loss of those she loves renders her unable to fight. Sailor Galaxia, abandoned by Chaos and fatigued from her battles, wryly observes as neither of them can fight, there are no Sailor Guardians left, so all conflict will end. As Sailor Moon is a champion of justice and peace, it’s tempting to simply stop fighting and let all the war and suffering cease. But the way Chaos would bring this peace about, of course, is unacceptable – but that still isn’t what motivates Sailor Moon to fight. All along, she has fought not for Peace or Justice but to protect those she loves – and her all- encompassing heart loves the world. It is the hope that resetting the Galaxy Cauldron will allow her world to live again that makes her return to the fight and defeats Chaos. Usagi’s anguish may be horrible and dark, but these moments are some of the most captivating in the series.

So that’s the greatness of the story: Usagi’s heroic journey.

Then there’s the rest of it.

The book throws nearly a dozen new characters into the story as Sailor Moon and the Starlights fight their way to Galaxia. None of these characters has more than a few pages – they’re here, dressed in some sort of kinky lingerie, they make a quick speech, and they die. Sailor Heavy Metal Papillion, for example, is in just four panels before she’s killed off. Do these guys have personalities? We have glimpses. Where are they from? Not important. Are they necessary to the story? Probably not, seeing as the anime cut most of these guys out completely. It seems like a wasted opportunity – either move the plot a little more slowly so we can learn more about all these new characters, or don’t add them so you can spend more time developing the large cast already in existence!

That’s my second complaint. We barely see Sailor Mars or Venus or Pluto or Neptune – all the other planetary warriors are reduced to cheerleaders thanking Usagi for saving the universe and applauding at her wedding. How disappointing! We never find out if Princess Kakyuu and the Starlight warriors revived – although I think it would be safe to assume they do – or where they go after the battle ends.

I want to love this series, I truly do! There are a lot of things that do work well. But certain problems that emerged fairly early on, like Takeuchi’s habit of creating far too many characters and failing to develop them in a meaningful way, were consistent throughout the story. Ultimately, it’s not as good as I remember, but the story is also much more grand and complex than I expected. I’m glad that Kodansha went back and retranslated the series, because this version is a vast improvement over the Tokyopop edition in the late 1990s/early 2000s.

I thought that when I finished this book I’d be done, but it turns out there’s a collection of short stories, too, so we’ve still got some Sailor Moon left!

3 out of 5 stars

To read more about Sailor Moon Vol. 12, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind by Ellen Brown and John Wiley Jr.
2011: Ingenue (Flappers #2) by Jillian Larkin
2010: Closing down for the end of the year…
2009: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Sthol
2008: From Fasting to Feasting: A Unique Journey Through the Jewish Holidays by Joe Bobker


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