Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, the Manga: The Infinity Arc, Pt. 4
The review series of the Infinity Arc of the Sailor Moon manga continues. Today we read acts 33, 34 and 35. You might want to catch up on the previous entries of the Infinity Series, featuring forceful gay kisses and Ami being a total bad ass and jumping out of a window.
You may recall that we ended the previous arc with all the Senshi going insane and trying to murder each other. Inexplicably, Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Chibi-Moon pull off a Captain Planet and combine their powers to form the Holy Grail. Shock!
Act 33 – Transformation – Super Sailor Moon
This act opens incredibly beautifully. Infinity has brought out the best of Takeuchi’s talents, but some of the illustrations here really took me aback.
Sailor Moon combines everyone’s hearts… which is totally Deus Ex Machina and corny, but I’m enjoying it. It continues to look cool as the Senshi all regain their senses and the three Talismans glow.
And we get Super Sailor Moon! It’s harder to tell the design differences in a black and white manga, but looking carefully you can see all the accoutrements she gains in the anime. Just like Sailor Moon to power up thanks to a change of clothes…
Chibi-Moon recalling Neo Queen Serenity and Endymion talking about how Sailor Moon had limitless power comes back to her. The writing is… a little dull to start with. It’s at its least subtle, most worshipping of Sailor Moon without, in my opinion, working particularly hard to get it. She didn’t earn this status, she just kind of… whipped it out suddenly.
The transformation doesn’t go unnoticed by the Death Busters, in particular the force inside of Hotaru gets particularly excited. Great slides of Hotaru with blank shining eyes continue to make her the most unnerving character we’ve had in Sailor Moon thus far.
So, the first thing Super Sailor Moon does is murder Cyprin and Petirol with a Rainbow Moon Heartache. Like every other attack in the manga, it’s not particularly impressive on the page, and is just a little too powerful. All Sailor Moon really has to do is enter a room, yell some words and whatever is inside dies.
Also note Sailor Moon’s increasingly long kill list.
All the Senshi are, like, best friends now. It’s even cornier than before, but again, I’m enjoying seeing all the Senshi lined up in front of Sailor Moon shoulder to shoulder. As an added bonus, all the Senshi’s broaches transform into a heart shape… which actually is kind of an awful design, actually. Never liked the toy-looking heart broaches, even in the manga.
The Outer Senshi decide to take the Sailor Senshi back to Uranus’ apartment. You know, to kick back, throw on some music, watch a bad movie or two, and final explain what the fuck they’ve been trying to do up till now.
Takeuchi tries to go for some comedy between Uranus, Neptune and the Senshi which… doesn’t quite work. Especially seeing as how this scene ends.
This next exposition is superb, however, and I rue the fact that this wasn’t in the original anime adaptation. It could have added a real layer of connectedness in the universe, as well as some extra pathos for the Outer Senshi and threat from Saturn.
The Outer Senshi watched the fall of the Silver Millennium from afar. They were forbidden from leaving their designated “zones”. That’s right, it appears that Queen Serenity ordered these ladies to hang out in the empty void of space by themselves guarding nothing.
Which makes even less sense when you realise that this also forbade them saving the fucking Moon Kingdom.Wow, Serenity, that’s… one hell of a bad order.
Now knowing that their Queen and Princess are dead (the whole transmigration of souls for the Inner Senshi are probably going on in the background too), the Outer Senshi’s Talismans begin to glow, just as they did when they lent power to the Grail.
Back then, however, their Talismans summoned Sailor Saturn… who brought true destruction to the Moon Kingdom. Saturn was the final bomb, of sorts, reducing everything back to nothing, including the Outer Senshi it seems.
This is brilliant stuff. Great link to the Silver Millennium, ties in to Metalia, adds the pathos of watching the Kingdom collapse from afar (they don’t play this up enough) and ensures that we see that Sailor Saturn is part of this history, and has the power to bring oblivion. Now that’s cool.
Plus SATURN, GUYS.
Sailor Moon and Sailor Chibi-Moon both realise that the Senshi of Destruction they’re talking about is Hotaru. They explain that they must kill her or risk awakening Saturn, and get pretty much the reaction you expect.
I like this schism. That it happens so soon after they’re all buddy-buddy is perhaps a pacing issue, sure, but I appreciate that Takeuchi set this idealistic difference up. While the anime is, certainly superior in terms of its writing, Takeuchi made something markedly better than the previous two arcs in Infinity.
Uranus talks a little more about how Hotaru was rebuilt by Tomoe, how she might be able to recover if she were to become Sailor Saturn again… but vows to not let that happen. There are tons of shots of Hotaru’s body in this manga. The effect is strange… it’s in no way exploitative. It makes her fragile, and akin to a biological specimen. It seems inspired by Akira, this blend of biological and machinery.
Unexpectedly, the frequent shots of her entire body serve to make her seem less human, more other-worldly. A lot of it is due to her poses. Always seems slightly theological in nature, but somehow twisted so that it’s a parody of religious iconography.
Which is fitting for the whole Dark Messiah thing.
She also looks incredibly doll-like, which is again reflecting her semi-life status. She’s actually referred to as Tomoe’s doll at one point.
While I’m enjoying the rift between the Senshi, I’m adamant that the anime writers took this concept and made it so much easier to connect to.
It is great to see Sailor Moon on the edge, adamant that they cannot kill Hotaru, but the idea is that you can’t have it both ways. Save the world by killing an innocent. I love the sentiment that the Outer Senshi leave on: “You can hate us, and you can even consider us your enemies, but for us there is no other way. We are going to do our duty and save the world.”
That’s pretty much their modus operendi. Great characters. Well, sort of. They aren’t really fleshed out further than this in the manga, due to the time and space constraints.
So it seems that there’s no messing about here, the Outers are directly on their way to do in a little girl. Chibi-Usa can’t swallow them pills though, (obviously) and somehow makes it to Hotaru’s house before they can get there.
Have you seen her legs? They’re like matchsticks. There’s no way she’s making it on time. Unless Michiru’s helicopter ran out of gas or something.
So… this is a bit of situational irony for you. Chibi-Moon, so adamant to defend Hotaru, totally gets boned by her friend she’s known for, ohhh, a couple of days it feels like?
As the creature within finally goes on the attack, her look sends shivers down my spine. It’s quite different from the creepy child-like curiosity from the anime, it’s actively hostile.
Hotaru snatches the Silver Crystal from Chibi-Moon… which probably serves her right for walking around with it prominently placed on her top while actively shouting out the name “SILVER CRYSTAL” whenever and wherever possible.
Chibi-Usa falls to the ground, de-transformed. It really does look violent. I’m feeling the threat here, the pathos too.
My favourite shot so far of anything in the Sailor Moon manga is this: the rebirth of Mistress Nine. That hair… is just fantastic… so good. I love her in the anime, of course, but I have to appreciate this original concept here. The work she did on this hair alone is brilliant artwork.
The scariest thing in the manga isn’t Mistress Nine, however… it’s the sight of Chibi-Usa lying lifeless in Tuxedo Kamen’s arms. “She’s not breathing” is a terrifyingly real way to end an act.
Really enjoyed this entry.
Act 34 – Infinity Labyrinth
It’s horrifying to see such everyday life-threatening situations for fictional characters who usually only exist within magic. The sight of Chibi-Usa in a hospital bed, with a doctor telling Usagi that she’s in fully cardiac arrest and dying, is something else.
Gosh it makes me feel uneasy. So yeeaah this is a pretty sudden and sharp shock after Usagi’s adamant denouncement of the Outer Senshi’s methods. It’s interesting… other than the a priori feeling that taking an innocent life is bad, we’ve only been shown evidence so far that it would be best for everyone, including herself, if Hotaru died. They’re really pushing Usagi’s ethics to its limit here.
So what exactly happened to Chibi-Usa? Well, in the anime the Death Busters are all about stealing Pure Hearts. That was actually a genius adaptation, since it gave corporeal form to the concept of a soul. Here in the manga, Mistress Nine merely snatched Chibi-Usa’s soul, which is a little harder to get as a concept.
It’s not like she did anything more to Chibi-Usa physically than take the Crystal. Quite how she took her soul is beyond me. Michiru goes on to explain that this is how the Death Busters create Daimohns – zapping the soul and converting the body into a vessel for their monsters. Gross.
The Outer Senshi also have realised that whatever attacked Chibi-Usa is not Sailor Saturn, which is something of a twist too. Always seemed… ill-advised for the Death Busters to have used Sailor Saturn as a host for a Daimohn.
Just to underline how shitty Usagi’s judgement is, Haruka digs the knife in a bit deeper, and suggests that they just murder Hotaru to end her suffering and to save Chibi-Usa’s life. Even worse, the Outer Senshi claim that they will be the ones to save her life themselves, with or without Usagi. Great pressure piling up here to just do the deed.
Mamoru’s ability to link his life-force to Chibi-Usa makes so much mroe sense in the manga. He’s shown these “aura” abilities before, and ensuring Chibi-Usa’s heart continues to beat by feeding her his energy seems fitting. She’s not just soulless, she’s like a goddamn corpse apparently – her blood isn’t even flowing.
Pretty sure even a few seconds of this would cause irreparable damage to Chibi-Usa body, you know.
Usagi seems to weaken for a moment. While anime Usagi can never abide the thought of killing an innocent girl to save Chibi-Usa, manga is Usagi is the kind of person who will definitely consider it as an option. That may make her more real, perhaps, but it’s also a little sad. She’s most definitely not an ideal role-model anymore.
Here’s where I get disappointed: Mistress Nine is kinda… goofy. Seeing her just bob around, attempting to cut her hair only for it to grow back, being a general dick to Kaorinite etc etc takes away her threat, her mystique. Liked her better as a quiet, threatening and god-like presence.
As Mistress Nine is acting all… hubristically… (that’s not a word is it?), she starts admiring the Silver Crystal she nabbed. This is when the Hotaru begins fighting back against her parasitic visitor, focussing on Chibi-Usa’s purity and what Mistress Nine has done to her. It seems Chibi-Usa’s soul was actually linked to the Silver Crystal. Definitely made it less messy in the anime by going for Pure Hearts, even if it’s a little more Anime-ish. If you catch my drift.
Pissed off that Mistress Nine is taking over at the Death Busters, Kaorinite gets super goth and starts performing black magic. She’s even got evil-looking runes and wax and stuff. Even better, she’s performing necromancy, reviving the Witches 5. She’s so metal right now.
Not sure if I’m pro reviving the Witches… they weren’t that interesting. Not bothered about seeing them again, I can see them just being a distraction.
The Inner Senshi, meanwhile, begin their assault on Mugen Academy. Oh by the way it’s now covered in crazy vines and stuff. it always falls back to plants in Sailor Moon doesn’t it? Minako totally ditzes out by asking if the academy turned this way recently. Well, quite.
As soon as the Senshi step into Mugen Academy, I lose my interest in this act.
The Senshi undergo a hypnosis of sorts, with each of them splitting up and meeting the resurrected Witch that “corresponds” to them. I really wasn’t entranced by the Witches, unlike the Senshi. They’re had their turn. They died easily without any development. Here I feel it’s… cheap recycling, I guess.
It’s also rather pathetic seeing the Senshi beholden to such lame hypnosis. Venus seems taken in by the idea that she’ll be an idol after Mimette ties her up in cables and forces her to stand on stage like an idol. Bravo. Jupiter… smells flowers for a bit. Bravo.
Sailor Moon’s psychosis is a little more interesting, with everyone she knows trying to be a complete dick to her. We’ve seen this before though, and it really doesn’t take much to break free from this: Sailor Moon simple throws a Moon Spiral Heart Attack at… something… and it all vanishes.
We have some confusingly composed panels of the Outer Senshi taking pity on the Inner Senshi, freeing them thus proving they aren’t total asswipes, but this kind of detracts from the underlying schism between them.
Seeing them all join forces is nice… but ignores the fact that some of the group have vowed to murder a girl.
As Super Sailor Moon begins fighting the horrific monster previously known as Kaorinite (not really following that stuff), Mistress Nine actually consumes the Silver Crystal. While being far less impactful than the moment in the anime where she swallows Chibi-Usa’s Pure Heart, this does serve as an OK end to an act, with Mamoru seemingly disturbed by Chibi-Usa’s condition.
Act 35 – Infinity Labyrinth 2
We’ve reached the climax of the Infinity arc, although the entire arc has felt like one continuous event thus far. We open with Mistress Nine powering up over swallowing the Silver Crystal and, thus, Chibi-Usa’s soul, too.
There are some really cool shots here, bravo on the art, even if some of it gets confused in the shading.
As Mistress Nine starts freaking out at the amount of power she’s taken in, Chibi-Usa’s body starts convulsing for some dramatic manga-ish reasons. The important thing to note is that Hotaru is actively fighting back against Mistress Nine consuming Chibi-Usa’s soul. These are decent… but don’t have nearly the same impact as the anime, which really made you feel as though she was consumed.
Here’s it’s obvious that Mistress Nine is going to get her ass kicked by a spirit Hotaru from the start.
We now have a nudity dance between Chibi-Usa and Hotaru. I found the sight of Chibi-Usa being Hotaru’s arms sweet… if a little uninteresting. I dunno, I’m just not invested in this relationship as much as I should be. I’m not getting the emotional impact. I’m so much more intrigued by the idea of Sailor Saturn than Chibi-Usa’s soul.
So yeah, Chibi-Usa’s soul is now being protected by Hotaru. Kinda takes away from the threat of the situation, with the Senshi still running around trying to beat up stuff.
The Senshi split up here, with the Inner Senshi staying up top while the Outer Senshi, plus Super Sailor Moon, head towards the basement.
From the looks of it… there’s no redemptive arc for Professor Tomoe. He’s just an evil bastard that deserves to be put down, whether he’s being manipulated or not. It’s really, really sad.
You know what’s going to happen to him the moment he says “I am God!” Has saying that ever worked out for anyone? Ever?
I do like that Sailor Moon has teamed up with the Outer Senshi. Unusual to see her with a team other than her own. Even better seeing her throw up from motion sickness, despite being ultra-powerful by this point.
Sailor Moon makes the mistake of asking the Outer Senshi what it was like before they came to Earth, when they were stationed out in the void. Presumably by Sailor Moon’s mother, Queen Serenity.
So they were out in the infinite void, alone, for eons. Wow, Serenity, that’s… super fucked up. And they continued to worship you? Well… what can I say? This is profoundly cruel.
Thankfully, the pathos is cut short by the lift whamming the floor, and Sailor Moon enters a 4 or 5 page introspection of, you know, darkness and stuff. The obvious cure is, naturally, an attack. Why is this here? This isn’t interesting or builds the story in any way.
At the bottom is Tomoe, who attacks with a shed-load of Daimohns, instantly destroyed by the Outer Senshi. Nothing is of particular note until…
Hot DAMN! Tomoe with no shirt on! Why? Who cares, it’s fan-fic fodder right here and I’m all in.
Tomoe reveals himself to be Germatoid, like the anime, but somewhat different in design. He’s just kinda zombie-lookin’. It’s pretty cool seeing him spout of nonsense about being a super-human, the ultimate marriage between Diamohn and human. I’m enjoying this.
It takes… 5 or 6 panels before Sailor Moon remembers she has the ultimate kill switch, and throws out a Rainbow Moon Heartache to vaporise poor Tomoe. I told you guys once before, Sailor Moon has the blood lust. She kills everyone whenever she gets the chance.
The saddest moment about all this isn’t Sailor Moon not even considering letting Tomoe live, since he’s a victim of possession, but Hotaru sadly overlooking the situation with a “he hasn’t been my Papa for a while.”
Wow, that’s… super dark.
An explosion of some sorts inconveniently happens about here, taking out the Inner Senshi (I’m sure they’re fine) but more importantly cancelling out Super Sailor Moon’s transformation. It turns out that her higher level is dependent on the other Senshi staying concious.
The act ends with Sailor Moon seeing, at the heart of… the nebulous poorly-illustrated darkness, Mistress Nine, looking all evil.
That’s the most sinister conservatory I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen my share of sinister conservatories.
And there you have it. Some great, if flawed, acts. I’ve really invested in how this will turn out, despite a whole heap of stupidity in terms of writing. That’s just something you have to put up with when reading the Sailor Moon manga… no offence meant or anything.
I really like Infinity. It’s really dark, really interesting. This is the best art I’ve ever seen from Takeuchi. While the writing is typically hers (things are set up and dropped, characters have no redemptive arc, enemies just drop without much effort), I can overlook the big ones.
We pick up next time in final final final entry in the Infinity Arc break-down! Join me, won’t you?