azurite: (sailormoon - manga venus fade)
azurite ([personal profile] azurite) wrote2011-11-17 12:53 am

Sailor Moon Returns, Again: review of the manga vol. 2

Well, after much anticipation, I finally got my hands on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 2. And of course, I'm going to review it. How does it fare against the Mixx version? Is it a good translation compared to the Japanese re-release from the early 2000s? What new facts or possibilities does it uncover? Read on to find out!

The first thing I noticed was that the included artwork (the color pages inside, one of which is a variation of the art on the front cover) seemed pretty saturated. Wouldn't it be nice if Naoko did another artbook, this time including the new art she's done for the re-released manga?

Usagi wakes up to discover herself in Mamoru Chiba's room. Her memories are a bit hazy, but judging by what he's wearing and the top hat, cape, and mask sitting on a nearby couch, it's pretty obvious: he's Tuxedo Mask.

Usagi asks why, and he responds, "It's for my memory." Now, I know this is a nitpick because English is a weird language, but "for" and "because" are not the same thing. His REASON for being Tuxedo Mask, his answer to Usagi's query of "why" he is a caped crusader (in essence) is because of his memory, not for it. It's BECAUSE he wants to regain his memory, BECAUSE he only remembers someone asking him to find the "Legendary Silver Crystal," and BECAUSE he wants to know who he really is.

GRAMMAR GRIPE #1, Page 15: "What'll should I do?"

"What'll" is a casual contraction; it can be short for "what will" or "what shall," but here it can't seem to make up its mind, because it's followed by "should," resulting in neither version making sense. This should have been "What should I do?" or "What'll I do?" not this weird meshing of both.

One of the gripes many readers had about the first re-released volumes of Sailor Moon and Sailor V in English was that Usagi and Minako's speech patterns didn't seem right for their age. As Usagi contemplates her feelings for Mamoru, she thinks "Right now...that if time stopped at this would be...just fine by me." The first part doesn't seem to lead very smoothly into the second. It'd make more sense if there was a "Right now, if time..." rather than that "that" shoved in there. But there was a bubble (not in the right order) on the previous page where Usagi was thinking "I feel," and if it was re-ordered, it could properly come out as "Right now, I feel that if..." But that's not how it appears, so....

Also "it would be just fine by me" seems a bit awkward to me. Maybe something more along the lines of "I'd be okay with that" or "I wouldn't mind at all." That seems like it'd be more natural for a 14-year-old to think, but is that just me?

One thing that's always made me wonder about the differences between the anime and the manga is Beryl's knowledge of what she's doing. In the manga, she knows her goal is to revive Metalia, but she doesn't exactly know what Metalia is, where she/it is from, or why they should destroy the Sailor Guardians and get the "Legendary Silver Crystal," beyond it being an amazing power source.

Considering she used to be part of the Earth Kingdom (as we'll find out later in this volume) and not such a demonic-looking lady, it stands to reason that something happened to her to corrupt her (and her memories). Later on, we see her "discovering" the Dark Kingdom's ruins, but WHEN does that scene take place? Is it sometime in the more modern day, meaning Beryl was reborn as a normal human and got corrupted again by Metalia? After all, it's said that Beryl is the one that broke Queen Serenity's seal. We also see the Four Kings of Heaven (the Four Generals) reborn as adult humans, but Beryl "got to them" before they could find Endymion. So one way or another, Beryl was the first.

If the scene was of her discovering the ruins of the Dark Kingdom back during the Moon Kingdom (the manga translation clearly states: the NAME of the Kingdom was the "Silver Millennium," it was not the name of the time period, and there's no indication that it was 1000 years ago or that the kingdom's span was 1000 years long), then that means that Metalia somehow PREDATED that first epic battle between the Earth and the Moon, and whatever happened got her/it sealed away in the SUN, which is where Beryl supposedly found the power anyway.

We see Beryl "summoning" Metalia with a spell (in a later volume, I think); that may have been due to the sun spots influencing her with their evil, or she could have wanted power so desperately that she awakened the evil that was already out there. But regardless, we see a panel of her "breaking the seal" on an existing kingdom. So...where and when was that?

Beryl says "Again, with my own hands, I freed Queen Metalia," and we already know she did it the first time, but which way is which? I'm thinking that the first time was because she was influenced by the sun spots and did the spellwork necessary to awaken Metalia; they corrupted Earth's people, built the Dark Kingdom up at what would become D-Point, and attacked the moon; when they failed, Beryl getting killed by Venus and Metalia getting sealed by Queen Serenity, EVERYONE WAS REBORN. Only Metalia actually got sealed, because she/it was the source of the evil. So Beryl actually was reborn like everyone else, lived a life, and somehow made her way back up to D-Point where Metalia was sealed....

GRAMMAR GRIPE #2, Page 27: "Before Queen Metalia gets it, I must!! I must, if I am to make this planet my own!"

Beryl is aware that Metalia is capable of devouring the Earth. She also says that with the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal, "this world is mine for the taking!!" so she must be referring to the planet itself when she says "before Queen Metalia gets it." But if that's the case, then she "must [get the planet before Queen Metalia], if she is to make [the] planet her own!" But...isn't that saying the same thing twice? She must get the planet if she is to get the planet? Wha?

I'm a bit surprised that floppy disks (see the previous volume) got turned into CD-ROMs, but VHS tapes didn't get turned into DVDs. Is it because it would be too hard to believe that DVD rental stores would be turning up everywhere? Ah, Ms. Takeuchi must like Netflix!

Does Luna have X-Ray vision? How did she know there was something in everyone's satchels, other than everyone acting/looking odd and there probably being an odd energy in the area? It's possible Luna's sense are attuned enough to know the difference between someone with an odd energy and someTHING with a weird energy, but still--how did she know it was the bags and not something else?

I also just noticed that Ami's "goggles" as Sailor Mercury are actually more or less sunglasses. She has clear temples (arms) that sit above the earring/microphone thing she wears, and the glasses aren't in any way attached to her tiara, the way Jupiter's antenna is. She also removes them without touching her earring or deactivating any special power, unlike the anime!

On Page 47-48, we see Venus' silhouette; Artemis is on the right side of the page, and her gloves are on. On page 49, Artemis is now on the left side of the page, and Venus' gloves are casually dropping to the ground. But when we see Venus again on Page 53, both of her gloves are on, and Artemis is who-knows-where. This is more of an artwork inconsistency thing that I just noticed; I doubt that any of the artwork accidentally got flipped, and I'm aware that the final image of Page 49 is actually a piece of colored-in art from one of the artbooks, so it may not actually reflect what Sailor Moon is really seeing, just her idealized memory of it, perhaps.

On Page 57, Venus and Tuxedo Mask lock gazes for a split second. We get the impression that they both had a jolt of memories. Even knowing the Sailor Moon plot, there's something suspicious here; Venus seems to have all of her memories (and if you've read Sailor V volume 2 already, you know she does, but there are tiny fragments that may be missing still), and Tuxedo Mask only has these dreams that he draws his mission from. So what exactly did the both of them "see" or "remember?" You'd think Venus might make the connection between Tuxedo Mask and Endymion, since she knew Sailor Moon was truly Serenity, but if not, what other possibility is there? She couldn't have mistaken Tuxedo Mask for Ace, her own masked beloved that died in her arm (yes, arm, singular) in the final volume of her own manga series, right?

"This is just a borrowed form." It's an odd turn of phrase that Minako uses, and I think she's using it to describe her Sailor Guardian form, which is odd, because a moment before, she expressed her desire for everyone to remember the details of their "true selves," which would imply their past lives as Sailor Guardians. So which is the borrowed form--Sailor Venus or Aino Minako? The way Usagi interprets it later on, it's the regular, everyday form that's borrowed, and she's "TRULY" a Sailor Guardian, but even she hesitates on that--"who I really am" is a big theme for both Usagi and Mamoru in this arc.

Page 76: Luna wonders about Usagi's obvious infatuation with Mamoru, but in the very next panel, she thinks "Tuxedo Mask." We know that Usagi and Mamoru know each other's secret identities, but Usagi has yet to tell anyone that. Why does it seem like Luna knows, when that's a very "vital piece of information," as Usagi put it? Or is Luna actually just thinking of them in the same train of thought, even though in the next thought bubble, she's back to considering why Usagi is falling in love with Mamoru?

GRAMMAR GRIPE #3, Page 108: one of the most memorable pages in all of Sailor Moon history. I think I translated this page myself at one point, and while the gist is the same, I'm not sure I agree with some bits of it. "That is the god's law." Wait, why "the" god? Normally when "god" is singular, it's also capitalized, like "That is God's law." And if you've got the "the" in there, it would seem to imply a plural possessive, not a singular: "That is the gods' law." Personally I prefer the translation "That is the will of the gods..." but hey, that's just me.

Page 124: Can someone tell me why there's a random tasseled pillow in the command center at the Crown Game Center?

Page 132: Luna says her "first order was to awaken Sailor Moon..." Who gave her that order? Earlier, we saw the silhouette of Venus acting as Luna's "Central Command," and anyone who's read Sailor V knows that she reports to a mysterious "Boss" that speaks to her through her transformation pen; later in the volume we see a projection of Queen Serenity that lives on via the Eternity Main System, but it seemed like it was only activated when Venus pulled out the sword...except, other than the fact that the kingdom has long since been decimated, there's no reason to believe the system would run out of power very soon. So who was "Boss," if not Queen Serenity, and if it was Queen Serenity, then why was pulling out the sword necessary (?) to see Queen Serenity's projection? Who gave Luna the idea to tell the Inner Guardians to do that in the first place? (Queen Serenity later says she's the one who awakened Luna and Artemis, so clearly the sword pulling thing was just a ruse...or maybe to SEE a projection, not necessarily for Serenity's "will" to live on and act in some way. SERENITY WAS A GREEN LANTERN!)

The thing is, since there was no "Sailor Moon" during the Moon Kingdom, SOMEONE must have figured out that Usagi is Sailor Moon and has a certain energy which Luna could find and resonate with. She should GIVE that person Sailor Guardian items, and despite not being a true "Sailor Guardian" (since she's not guarding her own "planet," but is a member of a royalty that lives to protect another planet, via a very special crystal...blah blah we find out about most of that way later), she could become "Sailor Moon." It's all weird. Luna essentially created someone that never existed, but as far as Luna knew, Sailor Moon HAD to have existed, because she was the only one who COULD seal away the awakening evil.

GRAMMAR GRIPE #4, Page 144: Ami might know a lot about science, but she sure can't get a grasp on the difference between "it's" (a contraction for "it is") and "its" (possessive, "belonging to it"). Her line should read "Its mass is one-eightieth of the Earth's; gravity on the surface is one-sixth that of Earth's; and its diameter is one-fourth of the Earth's."

Page 193: Motoki only recognizes Mamoru/Endymion as "a friend of Usagi's," so the friendship between them that's shown in the anime is totally different. Then again, in the anime, Mamoru is a college student (Motoki is in the manga as well), but in the manga, Mamoru is a high school student.

The want-ad he's got up at the Game Center says he's a "manager," but he says he's the "son of the building owner" and "he" (his father/mother) is "loaning me out as a part-time worker" at the arcade. Since when are managers part-time? And what does Motoki's uncle (who supposedly sent Mamoru/Endymion over, per Motoki's assumption) have to do with it?!

Page 201: the stones on the moon and the stone sword have a "strong toxicity" to them, but of course, none of the Guardians have any problems handling them. Is the toxicity because Venus killed Beryl with the sword? Is it the same sword Serenity used to kill herself with? Is it simply because of the damage Metalia wreaked that the Moon Kingdom's own environment became "a planet of death" as Makoto surmises?

Page 230: An outright error: Queen Beryl addresses herself as "Princess Beryl." The placement of the comma doesn't indicate she's addressing Sailor Moon/the Princess, and in the Japanese, she clearly introduces herself as "Queen Beryl, ruler of the Dark Kingdom." It's not like she was "Princess Beryl" before--we later find out that she was noble, but not noble enough to be wed to Endymion--and besides, he was more interested in alien princesses with light hair in odd hairstyles. :P

Page 235: In explaining that the number on the Help Wanted ad is fake, the note at the end of the volume says "and four missing four digits." Wha? Does that mean there are four digits missing? Why not just say "four missing digits"?

Overall, I think this is probably a better translation than the first volume, and no matter what, it's still going to be better for me than anything Mixx ever put out, I'd think. I know some readers are bothered by the inclusion of honorifics, but I'm ambivalent on it--while I can understand the need for a true and accurate translation (which means no words left in Japanese, not even the sound onomatopoeia), honorifics don't have an exact translation from Japanese to English, and context is sometimes hard to structure without changing a lot of what is said, or injecting words (possibly unnecessarily). The one thing that gets me is consistency, and so far, I think we have it. Mostly.

I do wish the editor bothered to proofread his stuff though, and see how awkward some translations sound, or catch stupid and easy spelling mistakes like the "it's"/"its" one.