Pretty Guardian Sailormoon 11 (Japanese, 2nd ed.) – Naoko Takeuchi: A

Book Description:
This volume contains Acts 50-54 of the new numbering system, which correspond to Acts 43-46 (Volume 16 and the beginning of 17) of the original publication. This contains half of the Stars arc.

Mamoru is set to go overseas to study, but is captured by a mysterious woman who steals his Golden Crystal. Usagi doesn’t remember what happened, rescued from a faint by Seiya, leader of the hot new singing group, Three Lights. Soon after, new enemy senshi appear and begin attacking the populace, but so does a new trio of possible allies, the Sailor Starlights.

So much to squee about! I absolutely love Seiya, and Yaten’s adorable to look at at least, if not in behavior. There’s also Haruka and Michiru high school cuteness, like riding the same bicycle to school, Haruka’s jealousy of smitten classmates and fierce protectiveness of Usagi, the outers’ castles, and just loads more interaction between the inners and outers this time around. Even the inners seem to have regained some personality, Rei and Minako particularly.

The storytelling seems fresher in this volume, and the tale not as stale as the whole Dead Moon mess felt to me. The villains are more interesting, the new high school setting is interesting, and even the missing Mamoru plot has a lot more mystery than the “ooh, Mamoru is suddenly fixated with mirrors” bit from Super S. This is shaping up to be my favorite arc of the entire series.

Pretty Guardian Sailormoon 10 (Japanese, 2nd ed.) – Naoko Takeuchi: B+

Book description:
The second edition of Sailormoon manga reworked some of the Acts, resulting in a slightly different numbering scheme. This volume contains Acts 45-49 of the new system, which correspond to the end of Act 39 through Act 42 (volumes 14 and 15) of the original publication.

After Saturn awoke and gave the other outer senshi their new sailor crystals, they join the inner senshi in their battle against the Amazoness Quartet. Usagi and Mamoru are both infected with a nasty mystical illness, and Mamoru’s been acting quite unlike himself. A crisis is approaching the prince and princess, and the mission of all ten soldiers is to protect those two with all their strength!

A silly plot has to be taken as a given with Sailormoon. Finally some progress is made in the fight against the Dead Moon Circus, and of course, it all comes down to something from outer space engulfing the world in darkness with sound effects like go-o-o-o. Mostly, one just has to just accept the explanations given for these happenings on face value and not get too bogged down with logistics.

Although it’s too bad that Fish-Eye and Tiger’s-Eye weren’t around hardly at all in the manga, there are some things about its version of the Super S arc that I prefer over the anime. Firstly—the outers! They were lamentably missing from this season of the anime. They make the inner senshi look totally bland and useless by comparison, but since they kind of are those things, I don’t mind so much. Secondly—the fate of the Amazoness Quartet. It’s kinda spiffy, and I wonder why it was left out. I don’t think the story of where Nehelenia came from in the first place was included, either.

This was never my favorite of the arcs, and I wouldn’t classify this as a truly excellent volume, but it’s entertaining, and there are some new attacks, and pretty pictures and did I mention outers?