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Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon the Manga, the Dark Kingdom arc Pt. 5

1-13-9

The final blog looking at the Dark Kingdom arc of the Sailor Moon manga. What was supposed to be a single blog on the differences between mange and anime has spiraled into this 5-part in-depth review. Deary me, I do like to go on don’t I?

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the manga, I must confess that I felt the story lost a bit of steam by this point. I just cannot review this adaptation without comparison to the anime, which, although it missed several opportunities for great plot points from the manga, really does benefit overall.

Let’s see if the manga can bring it back at the end. Don’t forget to check out the previous manga reviews.

Volume 3, Act 13

If you’re just joining us, you’re probably unaware that Sailor Moon has shoved a sword into her stomach for reasons as of yet unknown. It’s a violent and bloody scene that really is rather affecting, if not entirely believable (in the way she runs right up to Endymion before stabbing herself, for example.)

"OH GOD not again. Seriously, we need to hide all the knives."

“OH GOD not again. Seriously, we need to hide all the knives.”

So why did she do it? Well, she just cannot be bothered with this whole “ressurrected great evil Metalia” thing, hoping that she and Endymion will be reborn in a different time. I appreciate her thinking, but in the end it’s giving up. What was so admirable about Sailor Moon in the final episode of the anime series was her strength to fight back against the man she loved, to see the battle on through till the end despite her loses.

I have a problem with the characterisation, but her, it looked cool.

Sailor Moon and Mamoru are encased inside a giant crystal. In fact it’s THE Ginzuishou. Sadly, this isn’t the best thing have happened, since Queen Metalia (a large, amorphous and thoroughly uninteresting blob) decides then and there to consume it.

The rest of the Sailor Senshi decide to go all the way back to Japan to regroup with Artemis and Luna, then decide to go all the way back to the North Pole in a detour that is really rather baffling. Maybe just to fill up page space? What I do like is the several squares dedicated to Luna’s grief over Usagi’s death. I really got a good sense of the sweetness between the two of them that is sometimes a little more subtle in the show.

Well, to be fair, you don't have opposable thumbs. I don't think all the responsibility is on you

Well, to be fair, you don’t have opposable thumbs. I don’t think all the responsibility is on you

So what are the Sailor Senshi going to do? Well, they’re apparently influenced by Sailor Moon to do the only thing they know how, and they combine powers to wake up Princess Serenity within Sailor Moon, then all promptly die.

It’s sudden, it’s all at once, it’s lacking in any emotive quality whatsoever and with all the talk of resurrection in the manga, we know it’s not going to last. Anime wins, hands down, a billion times over in this plot point.

Sniff... sniff... no can't do, I feel NOTHING

Sniff… sniff… no can’t do, I feel NOTHING

There’s another flashback to the Moon Kingdom here, but whereas the anime glossed over the Sailor Senshi entirely in the past, we get a brief, but welcome, glimpse of the Senshi talking with the Princess, and the Four Generals talking to Endymion. I liked it. Not enough of it.

Sailor Moon wakes up within Metalia. How is it she’s still alive? Well, she seems to think that Mamoru’s pocket watch that she totally stole seemed to have protected her against the sword blow. Her own sword blow. Her attempted suicide is looking more and more silly.

"We could tie a bunch of these together and make body armour, it'd make bank with the military"

“We could tie a bunch of these together and make body armour, it’d make bank with the military”

With Metalia feeding off the energy of the Silver Crystal, Mamoru wakes up too. His awakening is apparently thanks to the stones he still held on him, and Kunzite Zoisite, Nephrite and Jadeite pop out for one last chat, helpfully mentioning that Metalia’s weakpoint is the stone in the middle of her head, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. We really don’t need a “hit the weak point for extra damage!” moment in there do we?

"Also remember to equip Excalibur, it has the Holy element which will cause critical damage to Metalia when her buffs are down."

“Also remember to equip Excalibur, it has the Holy element which will cause critical damage to Metalia when her buffs are down.”

Mamoru tells Sailor Moon how much he believes in her and supports her etc., and Sailor Moon busts out a goddamn staff for the Ginzuishou! Who knew the Moon Stick extended? It looks awesome actually!

Where can I buy that? WHERE? I'd use it as a bitching walking stick

Where can I buy that? WHERE? I’d use it as a bitching walking stick

The act ends with Sailor Moon giving her spiel and looking pretty darn assertive. Go get ’em kiddo.

Volume 3, Act 14

The final act. Let’s bring it home, Usagi.

Sailor Moon, wielding the Ginzuishou, isn’t doing much against Metalia. On the Moon, it’s quite a different story. A great crystal tiller begins reforming, and then the Moon in general appears to be pulsing with energy.

And the Metalia dies pretty quickly. Job done, Usagi falls back down, Bob’s your uncle. It was fine.

"Well that was fun. Time to hit the bar."

“Well that was fun. Time to hit the bar.”

There’s an interesting moment when the Ginzuishou is in use that Luna seems to be resonating with Sailor Moon, something that Artemis describes as looking like “the Goddess of the Moon”. I’m intrigued to see where this will go…

The Ginzuishou, so good at healing the sick, and reviving the dead, is apparently great at reupholstering too – the Moon Kingdom is rebuilt into its former glory! Again, where is this going I wonder…?

Mamoru notices that Usagi is out cold, and takes no time in making out with her cold, unconscious body without her consent. That seems to be the only time he ever wants to actually kiss her.

"Don't wake up don't wake up don't wake... ahhh shit she has a pulse."

“Don’t wake up don’t wake up don’t wake… ahhh shit she has a pulse.”

Mamoru and Usagi are reunited, though, and it’s actually rather lovely. We all just want these two to get along, don’t we? Although scenes of them hugging seems to go on for pages and pages…

Until Usagi notices that all her friends are dead. What a bummer, eh?

Luna calls Usagi to the Moon, which is becoming somewhat less mysterious with everyone hopping back and forth all the time, and upgrades her transformation broach. The newly-transformed Sailor Moon shoots of a Moon Healing Escalation and POW! No more death! That’s handy. And completely devoid of any cost or tragedy.

"I saw Heaven! It was filled with Christians, I'm not so keen on it."

“I saw Heaven! It was filled with Christians, I’m not so keen on it.”

The girls are all alive, everyone’s happy, but Rei gets an ominous preminition. A black crescent moon? What could this mean…? Guess we’re going straight into the new arc!

The last scene of the Dark Kingdom arc is of Usagi and Mamoru making out, as you do. It’s very sweet seeing them together, especially when Mamoru is in his geeky college student outfit.

But, POW!

This is even more wrong that at first glance

This is even more wrong that at first glance

Who’s this little girl that fell from the sky? An Angel? A Devil? Guess we’ll have to wait till I reach that episode in the second season of Sailor Moon to find out!

Actually there won't be a second season. This is the final issue

Actually there won’t be a second season. This is the final issue *click*

Conclusion

I like this ending a lot. It’s a smooth transition into the second arc, which, sadly, looks a lot more promising that this arc. I don’t dislike the manga, it has some very beautiful artwork, and some great ideas, but it lacks the brilliant writing and pathos of the anime. What it does do is make me appreciate the anime even more, something I thought impossible.

The writers of the show read the content of this manga and saw what it could be. They looked at the Four Generals and imagined their characters, how dynamic they could be. They saw Mamoru turn evil and saw the depths of violence he could reach against poor Usagi. They saw the Sailor Senshi die, saw how much more moving and important and memorable it could be.

Good on them for reading this manga and realising that it was so much more than a mindless thing to throw at young girls. Good on Naoko Takeuchi for writing it! I still prefer the anime, though.

See? So much better

See? So much better

As I said before, I hope the Sailor Moon reboot coming out in July will take the interesting aspects of the manga that the original anime didn’t touch upon and expand upon them. There’s a lot they could do. I also hope that they don’t stick too closely to the manga – it’s rather limited in its ambition thus far, we’ll see where it takes us.

When I’ve completed reviewing every episode in Sailor Moon R, the second season, I’ll return to the Sailor Moon manga to review the Black Moon arc. Very excited for that!

Arc’s Similarity to the Anime: 3/5 (Pretty close in the beginning, less so as it went on.)

Overall Score: 2/5 (Readable, but I think I wanted a lot more. Probably won’t return to it.)

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