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"While Sailor Moonís adversaries take plenty of different forms, Vís tend to mostly be pop idols who hypnotize people through their songs and then suck up all their energy for nefarious purposes. Seriously, this happens like five times in a row, and every time, V is surprised to find out that this new idol is actually a monster. That might seem like a reasonable thing to be surprised about, and it would be if every single one of them did not have the word 'Dark' somewhere in their name, and were also managed by the same talent firm, which was 'the Dark Agency.'"
In 1991, mangakaNaoko Takeuchi, at the time popular for her figure-skating manga The Cherry Project, was offered the chance to do a one shot story about anything she wanted. Being a fan of both Magical Girl and Henshin Hero shows, she created Codename: Sailor V, intended to be a humorous one-off in which a girl has Henshin Hero powers due to her connection to Venus, both the planet and the goddess.This little one off caught the attention of Toei Animation, who saw potential (and yen signs), and contacted Takeuchi with the view to expanding it into an anime, though one with more characters in the style of a Sentai show. Eventually that series became Sailor Moon, a manga and anime that are far better known.Codename: Sailor V (or Codename wa Sailor V) is the story of Minako Aino, whom Sailor Moon fans will know as Sailor Venus. While it started as a one-off, it basically morphed into the story of the Fifth Ranger before she joins the Five-Man Band. Minako in many ways is very similar to Usagi, given that Usagi is actually an Expy of Minako. But Sailor V is a generally sillier, goofier series than the Sailor Moon manga; it's closer in feel to the Sailor Moon anime in its first season.However it does get a little darker toward the end, and there is a recurring theme of Minako being unlucky in love. While this is mostly Played for Laughs, on a few occasions it's played with melancholy seriousness, especially in the Grand Finale that leads directly into the storyline of Sailor Moon. In it, Venus is told that she'll always be unlucky in love, because she'll always put duty first.Of course, at the end of the series, Minako awakens her Sailor Venus identity and discards her Sailor V one, learning about her past life and moving on to become the character we all know from Sailor Moon. It also goes a good way to explaining why Sailor Venus, in the manga, is much more serious than her civilian self.It ended in 1997, sometime after the Sailor Moon manga. Though as it only ran sporadically (in Nakayoshi's sister magazine, RunRun), it is much shorter, filling 3 collected volumes (2 in the revised editions), whereas Sailor Moon filled 18 (14 in the revised editions). Despite the popularity of Sailor Moon worldwide, Sailor V was rarely licensed and it wasn't until late 2011 that the series finally received an official translation into English.
Anachronic Order: As noted here and here, the original Sailor V one-shot became the third chapter of the collected edition. Chapters 1 and 2 of the collected edition were actually the fifth and sixth chapters to be released.
Art Imitates Life: Marie Buraidaru, author of Aurora Wedding, based the main character, Linda Evangeligeli, off herself. She also based Linda's love interest, Coattail Mask, off her editor, Shinro Baishaku, because she had a crush on him. Marie finally ends the series with Linda's wedding just as she marries Shinro in real life.
Ascended Fangirl: Superintendent Sakurada is a closet V fan and would do anything to get her to join the police force. The very end of the manga is basically her succeeding in this goal at last.
Marie Buraidaru, author of Aurora Wedding, also writes doujinshi about Phantom Ace. She's admitted to doing yaoi between him and one of the characters from her manga, Coattail Mask.
Beautiful All Along: Marie-sensei, without her glasses, looks exactly like Linda, the main character in her manga.
Bleed 'em and Weep / Tears of Remorse: The only two times Minako cries is because of this: the first time because the very first youma she kills is the boy she was crushing on, and the other because she has just killed her true love, who just happens to be Danburite.
Bi the Way: Like Minako, Inspector General Sakurada has a big crush on Ace, but before that she has a none-too-subtle fixation on Sailor V. In fact, the reason she starts fangirling over Ace is because he reminds her of Sailor V.
Butt Monkey: Artemis, as per usual. As well as Wakagi and his older brother, because of V.
The Cameo: Usagi and Naru briefly appeared at the end of a chapter of the manga.
All the Inner Senshi shows up at least once: Rei shows up just long enough to identify the base of the Monster of the Week before being taken away by her classmates, Ami is seen in the airport with her mother at the start of the last chapter, and Makoto is seen in train near the end of the same chapter.
Deadpan Snarker: Artemis, at least when he's not in the midst of freaking out over something.
Delinquents: Vivian attempts to draw energy from brainwashed gangs of juvenile delinquents. She herself dresses as a typical sukeban, even though she appears to be twenty-something.
There is also Saitou and his gang, though they're more of a group of jerks with hearts of gold. Saitou orders that Mina is officially under his protection, and anyone who messes with her answers to him.
Determinator: Minako's first real instance of becoming this shows when she proves to be the only girl who resists the Rainbow Chocolates that cause everyone who eats them to quickly gain weight because she does not want people to see a fat Sailor V.
Domino Mask: See the picture above. Also doubles with Goggles Do Nothing as she ditches them after her series ends, proving that a tiara is just as effective at hiding her identity as a mask.
Doomed by Canon: Guess what happens to Phantom Ace/Danburite/Adonis in the last story?
Early Installment Weirdness: The designs for Sailor V's costume and gadgets are very different from what the later Senshi would eventually receive. Despite being linked to Venus, V also has a pretty strong moon motif, and many of V's character traits and powers became redundant when Sailor Moon hit the scene, making V an even more obvious prototype.
Expy: A lot of readers unfamiliar with the timeline mistake Minako for an Usagi rip-off, not realizing that Minako came a year before Sailor Moon. Those familiar with both series will argue that while both silly Genki Girls, Minako is more likely to turn into a drama queen over a situation whereas Usagi will just squat down and cry. In general Minako is more action-oriented than Usagi, and these differences get played up in the Sailor Moon manga, where Minako plays The Lancer and The Captain to Usagi's hero.
Minako's best friend Hikaru looks exactly like Ami, aka Sailor Mercury.
Saito has an uncanny resemblance to Kunzite. Noting that he resembled someone she couldn't remember was one of the earliest instances of Mina recalling her past life.
Superintendent Sakurada looks a lot like Rei Hino, aka Sailor Mars.
Minako's mother looks exactly like Usagi's, and acts exactly like Usagi's when nagging her. However, the format means we only see her when she's nagging her, and so she appears to not like Minako very much. However, we see her little - you only get a panel per issue when she's reacting to something like Minako's schoolwork suffering (from superheroing she of course can't reveal.) It was probably intended to be a relationship more like Usagi and Ikuko.
A Father to His Men: Saito to his gang. They understand that he's meant for better things and try to get Minako to get through to him because they want to see him graduate with a clean record.
Filler Arc: The Pet Diary stories and "Youth Bet on the Hachimaki Stone" don't advance the Dark Agency plot in any way (the former featuring villains completely unreleated to the Dark Agency, and the latter having a Dark Agency character just doing stuff For the Evulz.) They do, however, focus a bit more on Artemis and feature more nods to Sailor Moon.
G.I.R.L.: When Mina finally reaches her goal of getting the top score at a particular arcade game, the obnoxious otaku guy who previously had a lock on 1st place confronts her and accuses her of being a boy in disguise, even trying to pull off her "costume."
Hair-Trigger Temper: Minako shows this in an instance where she beats up some boys for simply asking her why she isn't as feminine as other girls.
I Know Mortal Kombat: After Artemis and BOSS can't figure out how to force Minako to train, they hit upon the idea of creating a Sailor V video game which will teach her all the skills she needs to know. She becomes hooked on it, and actually becomes a better warrior because of it.
I'm a Humanitarian: Princess Lin-Lin, though never actually shown, is contemplating the best way to cook Mina after killing her.
Interspecies Romance - Well, kinda. Artemis had a short lived crush on a dog named Luna-chan who turned out to have been part of Wan-Wan's nefarious plot, in that it was Wan-Wan in disguise. And a male.
Irony: Adonis, a soldier for Kunzite who loved Sailor Venus in a previous life, dies with his love unrequited. He's reborn on Earth, but fights the woman he used to love because he's still serving Kunzite, who is with the Dark Kingdom now. The biggest irony is that Minako, who didn't even know this man in her previous life, falls in love with his heroic alter-ego Ace. C'est la vie.
Josei: Invoked in one story where Mina disguises herself as a sexy businesswoman to investigate a hospital. One of the captions read "Josei comic: Codename Sailor V!"
The Man Behind the Man: Fluorite is presented as the Big Bad in the first chapter, but is later revealed to actually serve Danburite, who in turn is serving Kunzite (who himself serves Queen Beryl, who serves Queen Metaria, who in turn is a incarnation of series big bad, Chaos. Whew!)
The Most Dangerous Video Game: The Cyberwarrior Girl Luga game, both the arcade and home console version. Luga uses it to cause fits of rage in order to steal energy.
Mysterious Protector: Phantom Ace, who was created well after Tuxedo Mask seemingly to fill that role for Sailor V. It turns out that Naoko Takeuchi was playing off audience expectations, as Phantom Ace turns out to actually be the Big Bad, Danburite.
Origins Episode: Chapter 1 was originally the fifth chapter to be released. It was put into chronological order for the collected edition.
Prequel: Retroactively. The original one-shot was published in July 1991 and is the only chapter that predates Sailor Moon, which began in February 1992. Later chapters of Sailor V are consistently set before Sailor Moon.
Police Are Useless: Superintendent General Natsuna Sakurada spends most of her time fangirling over Sailor V more than anything else unless it involves taking things out on Wakagi. Speaking of which, thanks to his Butt Monkey status Wakagi spends most of his time blaming V for all the incidents the Dark Agency causes.
Marie Buraidaru, author of a manga called Aurora Wedding. Marie is obvious, but Buraidaru is simply "Bridal" rendered in Japanese style.
Reassigned to Antarctica: Superintendant Sakurada manages to reassign Inspector Wakagi to Siberia at one point. Understandably, he lampshades why the heck the Japanese police force has a Siberian outpost in the first place.
The Runaway: In Chapter 11, Artemis feels unappreciated and tries this tactic with Minako, deciding to stay away from her until she comes looking for him. He's gone for a day, then comes back because he's worried about her, only to find she's barely registered that he was gone in the first place.
Stepford Smiler: At the end of the manga, Minako goes from extreme sadness due knowledge she'll never find love and regret for killing her true love to her usual antics surprisingly fast, implying the situation. We even see her going from crying to forcing herself to smile in just three panels...
Story Within a Story: Minako's a fan of a manga called Aurora Wedding, which is essentially a parody of Sailor Moon. It ends at 110 volumes, running since the author was in her second year of middle school.
Super Cop: A youma mistook Sailor V for this due her habit of busting bank robberies and generally acting like a Japanese cop, and superintendent-general Natsuna Sakurada wants to make V a cop. At the end of the series, she succeeds.
Taught by Television: Well, by video games, Minako learns Artemis was the name of a ancient Greek goddess from a game. This gives Artemis the idea to have the Sailor V game made to train her.
Temporary Bulk Change: One of the more elaborate Dark Agency schemes involved DeBrine selling highly fattening (and delicious) chocolates cheap around Valentine's Day. The girls eat them, they get fat, then give them to the boys, who also get fat. DeBrine then creates a weight loss clinic which endorses a miracle treatment, while she's really just sucking the energy of her clients and scamming them out of their money. Meanwhile, "fat" becomes the new in-look for the city even though everyone's trying to lose weight. DeBrine espouses that "this is the age of glamour girls". Despite failing, this was one of the more successful Dark Agency schemes because of how elaborate it was, lasting longer than most of the others.
Tomboy: Mina is good at sports, loves playing video games, has no compunctions about climbing over fences/walls in a skirt, and is quite outgoing and aggressive. A couple of boys tell her that she should be more feminine, because No Guy Wants an Amazon, and she responds by beating them up.
Unlucky Everydude: Or Dudette in this case. It should be noted that Wakagi's brother plays this straight. He just can't catch a break directly or indirectly because of V.
Also Wakagi himself, when Sailor V is concerned: to show up the police, Sailor V solved various cases... And they all happened to be Wakagi's job, causing him a lot of trouble with his boss and getting him temporarily reassigned to Siberia.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Pretty much defines Mina and Artemis's relationship in this manga. They're constantly fighting and bickering, each tending to overreact to whatever the other says or does... but at the end of the day they are always there for one another.
The Voice: Minako and Artemis' mysterious "boss", who communicates with them through Minako's Transformation Pen to give her mission objectives, is never seen. It's never revealed just who the "boss" is, but in Sailor Moon it's implied to be the spirit of Queen Serenity.
V Sign: See the picture above, Sailor V uses it as her magical girl hand gesture.
You Are What You Hate: Sort of: Minako has a very vocal dislike for police, but as Sailor V she acts as a magnificent officer, right down to give good advice and helping around just because (as Japanese cops are supposed to do). And, at the end of the manga, is convinced to become a part time cop.