Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 1 by Naoko Takeuchi is kind of a mixed bag. Some of the stories are well-crafted and really cute. Others poke moderately witty fun at facets of teenage life in Japan. A couple of them veered uncomfortably close (for my admittedly-somewhat-prudish tastes) to pedophilia.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 1 is divided into three sections, which are in turn divided into individual stories. The first section, “Chibi-Usa’s Picture Diary,” is split into three stories that center around Chibi-Usa. I normally find Chibi-Usa annoying, but these three stories were really cute.
“Chapter 1: Beware of the Transfer Student” featured a predictable monster-du-jour storyline, but was well-paced and well-drawn. “Chapter 2: Beware of Tanabata” was an entertaining retelling of the Tanabata legend, with a fun twist. “Chapter 3: Beware of Cavities” was probably my favorite story in the collection–pure sailor silliness. I couldn’t help but wonder why Michelle Obama doesn’t use such techniques to promote healthy eating.
The second section, “Exam Battle Stories,” is also split into three stories centered around the main sailor senshi’s preparations for high school entrance exams. “Chapter 1: The Melancholy of Mako-chan” focuses on Makoto/Sailor Jupiter and, via standard demon/ghost that must be vanquished, highlights the conflict between the stress of high school entrance exams and young students’ natural “escapist” wishes for fun and relaxation. “Chapter 2: Ami-chan’s First Love” was, in my opinion, the most humorous story in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 1. First love + first serious academic rival = very much messed-up hilarity. Poor Ami/Mercury!
“Chapter 3: Rei’s & Minako’s Girls School Battle?” was one of the stories that kind of bothered me. The story was subpar, and everything from the theme to the angles selected in the artwork to characters’ reactions to each other seemed to highlight the over-sexualization of young girls in Japanese society.
The third section consisted of one longer story: “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Side Story: The Secret Hammer Price Hall.” The basic storyline was ridiculously materialistic but still entertaining. But for me, the story was completely ruined by the two featured side characters, Naruru-chan and Ruruna-chan.
Those two characters took everything that bothered me in the previous chapter and amped it up by a full order of magnitude, at least. And these are Chibi-Usa’s classmates. They’re third grade students, dressing like street walkers, brains on nothing but the next hot brand name, running up huge credit card bills, etc., and every male character in the story reacts to them with instant nosebleeds.
Did I mention they’re third grade students? Yeah. Thumbs down on this one.
This story collection will, on the whole, please fans of the Sailor Moon series. It’s not a good starting-out volume, as it assumes readers are familiar with the characters and premises of the series. Except for the last two stories, I enjoyed Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories 1.
Release Date: September 10, 2013 (USA)
ISBNs: 1612624421 (9781612624426)
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Original Title: 美少女戦士セーラームーン新装版 ショートストーリーズ1 (Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn Shinsōban Shōto Sutōrīzu 1)
Sexuality: 2 (minor, but troubling in that it features minors)
Violence: 1 (fantasy battles)