Codename: Sailor V is the prequel to the Sailor Moon manga series.

Codename: Sailor V Volume 1
Written by: Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: September 13, 2011

The main character of Codename: Sailor V is Minako Aino, a 13-year-old middle schooler who can be distracted, outspoken, and boy crazy. Her life is changed when a talking white cat named Artemis comes to Minako and claims that she possesses the ability to transform into a beautiful girl with a lot of power. Artemis calls Mianko’s alter ego “Sailor Venus,” and that it’s her mission to protect Earth in the name of her guardian planet, Venus. To help her out, Artemis gives Minako a crescent shaped moon compact and a magical pen. With the pen, Minako can transform into her alter ego, which she calls the “Soldier of Justice, Sailor V.”

It turns out Sailor V’s adversary is the Dark Agency, which sends out kids as teen idols in order to enslave the public and suck their energy. Sailor V always thwarts the enemy and is able to beat the police to the scene of the crime. Sailor V’s heroics gain her both the envy and admiration of the police force.

If you’ve read Sailor Moon prior to reading Codename: Sailor V, then you basically know the tone of the story and the art style to except in the two volumes of this series. However, unlike Sailor Moon, Codename: Sailor V is a compilation of short adventures that end up feeling rather formulaic and also relies on only one villain organization. For most of the stories in the first volume, a new teen idol arrives and captures Minako’s interest. She discovers they’re actually a minion of the Dark Agency, takes on a temporary disguise before transforming into Sailor V, and then uses the compact to defeat the enemy. This formula is broken in the last few stories. In one story, the teen idol is replaced with a videogame, another sees the Dark Agency minion disguised as a stewardess, and the last story sees the Dark Agency member posing as a member of a gang of juvenile delinquents.

Overall, I have to say that the Sailor Moon manga series is stronger than Codename: Sailor V. However, Codename: Sailor V is an important part of the Sailor Moon series, since it establishes the Sailor Moon universe and explains why Sailor Venus was already found before Usagi was discovered to be Sailor Moon. Speaking of Usagi, she gets a couple of brief cameos in this first volume of Codename: Sailor V.

After reading this volume, I can only truly recommend it to readers who are already fans of the Sailor Moon manga series that want to read everything that’s associated with the franchise. If you’re a more casual reader of the Sailor Moon manga, then you may not get much enjoyment out of Codename: Sailor V.

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