Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Infinity Arc, Pt. 1
It’s manga season again! Buckle in, this is going to be a good one. After watching each season of Sailor Moon, I go back and take a hard look at the source material. Go back and check out what I thought of the Dark Kingdom and Black Moon arcs if you haven’t seen them before.
I’m really looking forward to the Infinity Arc, since it is both where the anime and the manga most strongly diverged, and where the manga really picked up. You may remember I had mixed feelings about the Black Moon arc, for instance.
Hope you’re ready, and you’ve got your volumes ready. Time to read along!
Before we start, it may be a good idea to remind ourselves where the Black Moon arc left us. In Acts 25 and 26, Sailor Moon had convincingly murdered every last person in the Black Moon clan, while Chibi-Usa had returned from her state as Black Lady after witnessing the death of Sailor Pluto, her only friend for 900 years and her surrogate mother-figure. This is also the moment she found her powers as a Sailor Senshi.
Finally, Neo Queen Serenity provided a lovely Deus Ex Machina by “powering up” all the Senshi. From what measurement to what measurement, I have no idea. It’s not like we have those power-level scouters from Dragon Ball Z after all.
So all’s well that ends well, right?
Act 27 – Premonition
I found this arc exceedingly strange and exciting having read it immediately after watching Sailor Moon S. You can already see where the show and the manga diverged. Here we have Kaorinite leading the Death Busters, her communing directly with Pharaoh 90, Mugen Academy investigations, Hotaru… in short, from the first act of the Infinity arc, it feels tremendously like the final phase of Sailor Moon S.
I’m certainly understanding the sudden shift in timescale of the last dozen episodes of Sailor Moon S – it’s designed to reflect the sense of swift activity that the manga always holds.
At the same time, seeing the story I know and love so well told from a completely different pace is fascinating. Enjoying this arc more than the Black Moon arc so far.
We open with the ominous scene of Kaorinite communing with Pharaoh 90 himself. My my, she’s much more senior in the manga, appearing to be coordinating the entirety of the Death Buster’s activities as opposed to being Tomoe’s mere assistant.
While I loved Professor Tomoe in the anime, I do like Kaorinite apparently being more senior than him at this point.
Then then get a mysterious girl being awoken by some kind of prophetic words… it’s Hotaru! She’s in here much earlier, isn’t she? Definitely slightly older than her anime counterpart.
The words that awoke Hotaru also have an effect on our other two psy-sensitive characters. Mamoru and Rei both sense something dark is on the horizon. And Usagi…
Well… she’s having the usual dreams. This made me smile, the juxtaposition of the dark and oppressive to Usagi’s subconscious.
The Tsukino household are all having breakfast, and listening to a bizarre news report of a monster appearing at “Mugen Academy”. Very exciting. Found it distinctly strange that the news caster described young students transforming into monsters, specifically “the transformation appeared to revert the victims to a primitive state.”
So… like an ape or a small mammal or something? And no one gives a shit about this horrifying news report. Luna seems interested, but Chibi-Usa and Usagi’s dad just look like they’ve watched a bad weather report.
We cut to the introductions of Michiru and Haruka. These aren’t particularly captivating. They just seem like rich assholes to be honest. Michiru, at least, looks quite cool emerging from the pool.
In particular, Haruka has this shit-eating grin as she wins a race. She also looks much more man-like than in the show. Naoko seems to be running with the gender-confusion a bit more.
Haruka’s introduction to the Senshi isn’t much better. A bit like the anime, Usagi loses to Haruka badly at a racing computer game. I think Naoko wants us to really admire Haruka as a cool bad boy, but, again, she comes off more as a dick.
As soon as we see Haruka with a smarmy face flirting with Usagi, and then see Usagi noticing Mamoru talking with Michiru, I know what’s going to happen. A weird gender-confused love-triangle. Loves-square, right? This is going to annoy me, I can tell.
When Umino and Naru give their once-an-arc exposition scene, the team discover Haruka’s identity as a famous driver. Again,, shit-eating grin. This is worrying. Really hoping I don’t hate Haruka in the manga…
Oh and then a girl walk past Usagi in the street and explode into FUCKING MONSTERS JESUS CHRIST. Naoko Takeuchi has this really weird obsession with horror in the middle of all this cuteness. remember all those dead desecrated bodies she liked to draw?
We have seen this before in the anime, in Haruka’s flashback. Nice to know it came from somewhere, and that they kept this horrifying design as an homage. I think the whole Pure Heart-Daimohn stuff probably worked better for the anime though.
Remarkably, the Senshi’s strongest attacks do not kill this poor girl but just frees her from whatever she had. Bit of luck that. At no point were the Senshi worried that they might kill this girl.
The next step for the girls is to investigate Mugen Academy. Great choice! I like that they’re so motivated and proactive here. This is all exceedingly interesting, enjoying this thus far.
Kaorinite is aware of the Sailor Senshi already, and immediately sets the Witches 5 to deal with them. Strange to see them all alive and together like this. I think the balance between the Witches is much better in the manga, doesn’t feel as rushed.
Chibi-Usa, meanwhile, is in a theme park right next to Mugen Academy. My my what are the odds. She loses her hat on a rollercoaster, and instead of calling it lost and/or questioning why she went on a rollercoaster wearing a fucking floppy hat, she decides to leave the park to look for it, walking around the entire goddamn block until she comes to Mugen Academy itself.
That’s a far cry from when it happened in the anime, where he hat blew off a few feet into Hotaru’s hands.
Usagi, meanwhile, as sneaked into Mugen Academy with the old Transformation Pen, and is looking adorable as heck in their uniform. I think they missed out on a trick by reducing how much play the Transformation Pen got in the anime.
Usagi hears some violin music, and who should she meet but Michiru on the roof. It’s actually a rather nice moment, until Michiru and Haruka become really threatening to the Senshi. Whereas the anime showed the Outer Senshi to be fundamentally good, but philosophically opposed to the Inner Sesnhi early on, Naoko obviously tried to set these guys up as potential bad guys from the start.
It’s quite effective, too.
Chibi-Usa, meanwhile, has accidentally stumbled right into the entrance way of Tomoe Labs. What are the odds? Also Hotaru is having a fit, by herself, right in the hallway. What are the odds? She’s actually kinda scary… not at all like the vulnerable sweet girl in the anime. Like it.
Usagi manages to find her way to the same place (ODDS WHAT ARE THE ODDS) but both she and Chibi-Usa notice their Silver Crystals acting as a sort of alarm system for danger, sort of like the blue glowing Sting was to Bilbo in The Hobbit. And then..
HOLY COW ANOTHER ONE. These things are all sorts of fucked up. Their lumpiness and horrid tentacle things make it look like a very angry & hairy turd. Still find it hilariously wrong to call these a “de-evolution creature”. How is this a primordial creature?
Rather surprising to see Chibi-Usa and Usagi transforming right in front of Hotaru like this. Another thing I like. Would have cleared up some rather large gaps in logic in the anime when you come to think of it.
And that’s the end of this act. All in all a good start! Then again, these arcs hit the ground running then sort of whimper a bit near the end. Let’s see what you’ve got, Infinity.
Act 28 – Repercussions
We start off straight in the action, with Chibi-Moon defending Hotaru while Sailor Moon uses Moon Spiral Heart Attack for the first time against old hairy-turd here. naturally it lacks any of the imagination of style of the anime, but hey, there’s only so much you can do with black and white illustration.
It turns out that the possessed creature was… a cat. Guess it doesn’t matter what explodes into angry evilness.
Hotaru doesn’t seem overly grateful. In fact she looks kinda pissed. Still strange to see her evidentially older than her anime counter-part. We see her ability to heal wounds here, closing up Chibi-Moon’s injuries with ease. Wonder if this will actually come into play at all in the series, or if it’ll just fade away like in the anime?
Two mysterious figures appear to be watching these events take place. On is evidentally Sailor Neptune, no surprise there, but the other…
Oh GAWD that’s why Naoko was making Haruka such a cocky jerk. She’s modelling her on Mamoru, and hanging a tie on it by having her strangely dress up as Tuxedo Kamen. For what purpose!? Neptune certainly isn’t disguising herself.
Ehhh it still looks cool though…
Hotaru introduces herself before she leaves, apparently not caring at all that two random girls have just turned into super heroes before her eyes. Still, it’s a sweet moment.
We see her home-life dynamic… which is radically different from the anime. For one, Kaorinite seems actually concerned with Hotaru. For another, Professor Tomoe (first appearance) isn’t covered in shadows, and is kinda much creepier in a way.
He then proceeds to bring up the fact that Hotaru’s mother has passed away twice in two pages, for no particular reason except to explain how very sad Hotaru’s life is slowly to the reader.
Having Hotaru appear at the beginning of Infinity works better than bringing her in half way through the story, as the anime did. She feels much more central to the story here. Tomoe gives her a weird-looking crystal that he says will make Hotaru feel better when she has her fits…
Fairly certain that I would have gone for Ibuprofen.
Kaorinite doesn’t seem overly concerned that a monster was defeated right on Mugen Academy grounds. There’s a discussion of the “Taioron Crystal here… but there’s not real explanation of what it is yet. I actually sort of hate how much gems and crystals are used in the manga. Aside from all the stone-related names, we have a Silver Crystal, a Golden Crystal (in the Dream arc), the gemstones of the Great Four, and this Taioron Crystal. Just screams of a McGuffin, it’ll be exactly as powerful as they need it to be for the plot to continue.
Michiru appears to be doing some divination with her Deep Aqua Mirror… and we get a very very close scene between her and Haruka. At this point we are meant to think Haruka is a dude, of course. I have to hand it to Naoko, she really went 100% in on this same-sex relationship. Really like it.
Michiru bumps into Mamoru on the street again, flirting with him (she’s good at it) before handing him tickets to one of her violin recitals. Naturally Usagi is around to see this… and the weird love triangle continues. Not feeling this at all, feels a bit contrived just to keep Usagi and Mamoru’s relationship strained.
And then of course Haruka meets Usagi and hits on her too.
We get our first Witch on the chopping block today. Like the Phantom Sisters in the Black Moon arc, the Witches 5 will be little more than enemies of the week, which is a shame. So glad the anime massively fleshed out Eugeal and Mimett… well, Eugeal anyway.
In the manga, Eugial (or Eudial as we should call her) reveals her alternate identity to be Arimura Yuuko, a teacher of Etiquette and Philosophy at Mugen Academy. Which is weird. Etiquette? In 1995? OK.
Her plan is to get a bunch of people and steal their souls to become vessels for Daimohns, apparently.
Rei, meanwhile, is actually in the mountains training, and naturally she’s soon joined by the other Senshi. How could she not be? This reminds me strongly of an episode focussed on Makoto training in the mountains in Sailor Moon S. Glad to see them drawing inspiration from the manga without feeling beholden to it.
Apparently it’s Rei’s 15th Birthday! Which is a stark reminder that these girls are meant to be 14 and 15. Wow. I like the celebration scene. Mostly the girls playing to their stereotypes. Ami, as ever, is the buzzkill.
The girls decide to snoop on a judo training camp nearby for Mugen Academy students. ODDS WHAT ARE THE OOOOODDS. And of course Haruka is participating. SUCH ODDITY JESUS. They actually bring this up, Haruka is shocked they would keep running into each other. Well maybe that’s the writer’s problem, Haruka.
We get the match up we’ve always wanted, Makoto Vs Haruka… and of course Haruka wins. As often as we are told that Makoto is awesome at martial arts, she doesn’t half lose when Naoko Takeuchi wants to shove down our throats how awesome new characters are.
In the middle of the night, Rei and Makoto sneak back to the camp to see Eudial brainwashing the students into giving up their souls to become vessels. It’s all very cultish. Kinda like it. I think I know what’s going to happen to poor old Eudial though… She really isn’t a shadow of the awesome character they made her in the anime.
Mars and Jupiter interupt, and Eudial announces that by beating the Senshi she will “level up”. Wait what? She’s Level 78 apparently. 78 of what? What WHAT? Fine, confuse me then, why not.
Mars incinerates her with a Mars Fire Snake (pretty cool), but then… OF SWEET JESUS WHAT THE HELL.
Naoko… loves her horror. Eudial is apparently some kind of Medusa monster. Kinda glad she just got murdered in a car accident in Sailor Moon S in the end…
Sailor Moon very quickly kills her with a Moon Spiral Heart Attack and that is that. I’m astonished at the fantastic story in the anime they managed to weave based on the manga. It’s good stuff, but not nearly as captivating.
Finally the act ends with the Senshi noticing they’re being watched… by anther Sailor Senshi. This time, it’s Sailor Uranus, and yes that’s definitely Haruka and definitely a woman. I guess for manga readers this would have been the first soft reveal of Haruka’s identity. It’s admittedly a cool moment, with Sailor Moon’s typical “OMFG” face.
And there you have it. I liked thee two opening acts a lot. I can’t tell where they’ll go, and that’s exciting. The only things I’m a little hesitant about are the weird love-triangle with Usagi and Mamoru heading for a jealousy-bomb, and the lack of anything particularly cool about the Witches 5, and Eudial in particular.
I can see so much of Sailor Moon S caught in bits and bobs here, from the entire series. They really did re-purpose so much of the manga for the anime adaptation. I’m also glad that they went a different direction. As I feel Sailor Moon Crystal demonstrates, too faithful an adaptation can be inhibitive to a compelling narrative.
Let’s hope the arc continues like it started!