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Manga / Codename: Sailor V

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In 1991, mangaka Naoko 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 her story before she joins the team. 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.

This series provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: The series plays with a lot of common tropes found in the Henshin Hero and Magical Girl genres.
  • Always Save the Girl: Gender-inverted with Minako and Phantom Ace and tragically defied.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Asians Eat Pets: There is a part where Minako goes to China and a very stereotypical Chinese villainess threatens to eat Artemis (who is a magic talking cat). In the same scene, it cuts to Natsuna Sakurada (back in Japan) talking to Wakagi about Minako's trip to China and she mentions that there is a Chinese dish where they cook a cat whole.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Chuchu disguises as a male doctor in order to trick people into donating blood to her. Minako, as with most masculine people, is absolutely smitten until she realizes the truth.
  • Bait-and-Switch: How Phantom Ace is introduced. Just off the coattails of the Dark Agency's rainbow chocolate plan, in swoops a brand new person taking a hold of the public eye, reportedly fighting for women and selling rainbow candies. It all sounds like your typical Dark Agency plot, which makes Artemis suspicious...but then it turns out the rainbow candies are actual sweets and Ace is a true heroic. Artemis was right to worry though, since Ace is really Danburite.
  • Beautiful All Along: Marie-sensei, without her glasses, looks exactly like Linda, the main character in her manga.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: DeBrine who, despite being a villain, is drawn pretty cute.
  • Big Eater: Minako and Princess Lin-Lin.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the final chapter, Ace dies at Sailor Venus's hand, and Minako is forced to realize that to her the duty of a Sailor Soldier comes before both her dream to be an idol and her wish to find love. On the other hand, she also discovers she has True Companions that will fight at her side.
  • 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 another boy she was crushing on, who just happened to be Danburite.
  • Book Dumb: Mina.
  • Bookends:
    • Both the first and the last chapter have Minako's crush die at Minako's hand, and are the only occasions she's ever seen crying.
    • In a meta sense, Sailor V began serialization about half a year before Sailor Moon started up, but only ended half a year after Moon did.
  • Break the Cutie: Minako at the ending of the series.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Maiku Otonaru, one-quarter Russian.
  • But Now I Must Go: Minako leaves her home and family for Tokyo, to find Sailor Moon and the other Senshi. She does accept a job as a cop, but other than that her friends and family never appear again.
  • Butt-Monkey: Artemis, as per usual. Wakagi and his older brother are saddled with this too because of V's antics.
  • 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 the train near the end of the same chapter.
    • Buraidaru's main cast for Aurora Wedding, going by the silhouettes, look just like the entire line of Sailor Soldiers Inner and Outer. They even have a Chibiusa stand-in.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Artemis, of course.
  • Codename Title: Protagonist Title for a Sailor Fuku-ed Magical Girl with a theme of Venus, both planet and goddess.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Thanks to his habits Amano manages to be one of the few characters never affected by the Dark Agency's energy-draining plans, and at one point he even manages to help Sailor V defeat the Monster of the Week.
  • 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.
  • Denser and Wackier: The manga's general tone, save for its Grand Finale where it goes full Drama Bomb Finale.
  • 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.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Danburite doesn't really know how to balance his goal of winning Sailor V's heart and defeating her for the Dark Agency. This costs him a few crucial victories due to him killing his own henchmen several times as Phantom Ace.
  • 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?
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: At one point, Artemis goes into Minako's room while she's asleep and licks her face. It would be pretty creepy if it weren't for the fact he's a cat.
  • Dying Curse: Danburite's last words.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: An in-universe manga also used the character designs for who would become the ten Sailor Senshi.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: 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. Although Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you remember that Minako was meant to be a decoy to the real Moon Princess.
  • Evil Diva: The Dark Agency is full of them.
  • Fatal Flaw: For Danburite, it's his obsession with Venus. If not for him wanting to win her over, the way he failed in the past life, she would have been defeated on multiple occasions towards the end of the manga.
  • Fat Bastard: DeBrine.
  • 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.
  • Gamer Chick: Minako, who is obsessed with getting the high score on any given video game in the arcade. Artemis and the Boss decide to take advantage of this by creating a video game that will teach her all the skills she needs to learn as Sailor V.
  • Gender Bender: Minako uses her disguise powers to become a hot teen boy at one point in order to trick a vain Monster of the Week.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Minako calls Artemis on this, calling him a "crossdressing cat" since he's named after an ancient Greek goddess.
  • Genki Girl: Minako.
  • Genre Savvy: In the Hawaii chapter, Minako claims Sailor V "sent her" to take her place for the Hawaii vacation alongside her parents. When Natsuna and Wakagi show up at the Hawaiian airport looking for V, they're told she sent a stand-in. One woman, however, mentions since Sailor V was seen at the airport, it's possible she's really the girl who took her place. The comic even lampshades the woman's observation by saying "This one's sharp!"
  • The Ghost: Kunzite, the story's Greater-Scope Villain, is only glimpsed in a flashback.
  • 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."
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Marie Buraidaru is actually a real beauty and the practical model for her manga's heroine. Her only real problem is her coke-bottle glasses, which she ditches once she starts dating her longtime editor.
  • 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.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Minako is this at the end of the series. Emphasis on badass come time for her to make an appearance in the Sailor Moon manga.
  • Henshin Hero: While she is ultimately the sort-of precursor to the standard Magical Girl Transformation, her costume change is really based on tokusatsu heroes.
  • Heroic Willpower: Subverted. Minako's friend Hikaru is a frequent victim of the Dark Agency, but managed to completely resist the allure of DeBrine's Rainbow Chocolates, being the only other person in the city besides Artemis and Wakagi to not be affected by them.
  • Humiliation Conga: One guy has the rough of it in Chapter 7. After Mina as Sailor V wins a vacation to Hawaii, the guy takes out his own life savings to be able to do the same. Along the way, he gets saddled with paying for two people who tried to skip a mandatory airport inspection, labeled a pervert for accidentally going into the girls' restroom, has his flight to Hawaii switched to Greece when Mina gets on the wrong flight, and then gets bonked on the head with a piece of crumbling Grecian architecture. His boiling hatred for Sailor V (seeing her as the source of all his misery) allows him to be the perfect pawn for the Dark least until he goes down without much of a fight. On the bright side, he got to see a tropical beauty on his trip...
  • Hypocritical Humor: Minako absolutely gushes over the Dark Agency's Dark Brothers, but Artemis is much more skeptical after the Pandora incidents. Minako basically brushes that worry aside to continue gushing, only avoiding becoming brainwashed because of Artemis's quick work and because she couldn't afford the Dark Guys' hypnotic album.
  • 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.
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Rainbow Chocolate, and unfortunately for everyone, its weight gain effects can't be undone by Minako's compact.
  • Inspector Javert: Wakagi.
  • 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.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Sailor V could give Darkwing Duck a run for his money when it comes to making completely absurd introductory speeches.
    • And long ones. Lampshaded by Wan-Wan in Pet Chapter 2:
      Wan-Wan: Thy descriptive text is waaaaay toooooo looooong!!
  • 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, became infatuated 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!"
  • Identical Stranger: Buraidaru's editor is a dead ringer for Phantom Ace, which is why she's so obsessed with him. Because of this, both men inspired the princely phantom thief Coattail Mask in her manga.
  • Late for School: Mina is chronically late.
  • Lighter and Softer: This series is generally much more lighthearted and comedic in tone than Sailor Moon, although it does have its dramatic moments toward the end.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Sailor V and Danburite do not get together, due to being on opposing sides of a battle between good and evil. Danburite doesn't seem to realize that he can't defeat Sailor V and conquer her heart at the same time, and Sailor V realizes that she can't forego her duties for the Earth.
  • Love Goddess: This is the manga where Minako earned her title as Goddess of Love and proved it by helping other people's love stories with her mere presence.
  • Magical Girl: Was the prototype for Sailor Moon.
  • 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 an incarnation of the series' Greater-Scope Villain, Chaos. Whew!)
  • Master of Disguise: Mina uses her disguise powers more consistently than Usagi did.
  • Medium Awareness: Minako does this in the final chapter.
  • Monster of the Week: The majority of the chapters each feature one of them.
  • 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.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: One chapter focuses on Marie Buraidaru, a mangaka who writes a Long Running shoujo romance and a huge obsession with Phantom Ace. She's overworked, needs her editor to keep going on, and has a short talk about how she makes her protagonists the exact opposite of what she is.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: During the conflict with Hibiscusy, the hatred Wakagi's older brother develops for Sailor V becomes so great Hibiscusy is suddenly sensing "a strong desire to kill Sailor V somewhere!"
  • 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.
  • Narcissist: Naturally, Narcissus of the Dark Agency. Practically every panel he's in has him striking a pose.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: A male example with how Ace is dressed in the final chapter. He looks like a Male K-Pop singer who only sports a 2-buttoned blazer and no shirt or tie.
  • Nerd Glasses: Amano and Opaque Nerd Glasses for mangaka Marie Buraidaru.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Subverted. "Sailor V's Vacation - Desire for Hawaii," doesn't take place in Hawaii. Instead, the conflict is all about how Minako won a trip to Hawaii and went to Greece by mistake, causing a big chase with Natsuna, Wakagi, and the Dark Agency.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: DeBrine. Her scheme was the most successful out of every villain employed by the Dark Agency, mostly because of how complex it was.
  • Origins Episode: Chapter 1 was originally the fifth chapter to be released. It was put into chronological order for the collected edition.
  • 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, and then taking the blame for any of the fallout from her battles.
  • 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.
  • Proud Beauty: Villainous idol Pandora thinks she's the most beautiful woman in the world. She's really hideous underneath her make-up, and avoids mirrors because they expose her true face.
  • Punny Name:
    • Sound it out: C'est la vie...
    • Marie Buraidaru, author of a manga called Aurora Wedding. Marie is obvious, but Buraidaru is simply "Bridal" rendered in Japanese style.
    • Minako says Saito-kun reminds her to someone, suspiciously one of the General of "Four Kings" named Kunzite. "Saito-kun" and "Kun-Saito".
  • invokedReal Life Writes the Plot: 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.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Superintendent 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.
  • Reused Character Design: This tends to happen when you're serializing a prequel alongside its spinoff manga:
    • Minako's otaku pal Amano is drawn exactly the same as Usagi's otaku pal Umino. Some speculate he's a relative...or maybe the same guy, who just transferred schools and had a slight name change.
    • 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. Furthering muddling the situation is that, at one point, Saitou is referred to as "Saitou-kun." Reverse that, and it becomes "Kun-Saitou."
    • Superintendent Sakurada looks a lot like Rei Hino, aka Sailor Mars.
    • Inspector Wakagi looks like a more masculine Haruka Tenoh, aka Sailor Uranus.
    • Narcissus, the first villain to appear, looks very similar to Jadeite, who in turn is the first villain to appear in Sailor Moon.
    • 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 superheroics she of course can't reveal.) It was probably intended to be a relationship more like Usagi and Ikuko.
    • Hibiscusy looks like a dark skinned version of Mimete, especially fitting since Mimete was Minako's Evil Counterpart in the Witches 5.
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: Artemis chiding Mina for her misbehavior, and Mina in turn chiding Artemis for talking in public.
  • Self-Duplication: The Dark Guys, Twin Dark, and Dark Shizukahime are all clones of Fluroite, the head of the Dark Agency's talent division.
  • Shipper on Deck: Minako starts liking the idea of Sakurada and Wakagi together towards the end of the manga.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In Sailor Moon canon, the Big Bad for this story line is a mere underling of the first manga arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad (specifically under Kunzite), though he does get to control a whole subgroup within the Dark Kingdom - the Dark Agency.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Is it Narkissos or Narcissus? Hibiscus, Hibiskos, or Hibiscusy?
  • Stepford Smiler: At the end of the manga, Minako goes from extreme sadness due to the knowledge she'll never find love and regret for killing her crush 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.
  • Tempting Fate: During the DeBrine chapter, Natsuna mentions the stress of dealing with the Dark Agency and Sailor V has made her lose weight. DeBrine's Rainbow Chocolate soon puts that in reverse.
  • There's No Kill like Overkill: In the final story, V's "Venus Love Megaton Shower" is so strong it brings down the entire building.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Mina gives this as the reason why Artemis definitely shouldn't talk in public: "They'd turn you into sashimi!"
  • 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.
  • Tragic Villain: Danburite.
  • 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 cases, causing him a lot of trouble with his boss and getting him temporarily Reassigned to Siberia.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: In the second "Pet Diaries" story, Artemis nurses a crush on Marie's dog, Luna-chan. Who turns out to really be Wan-Wan in dog form. In the following story, Minako's shocked to discover the handsome male doctor she met was really the female Chuu-Chuu.
  • 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.
  • Wunza Plot: She's a goddess reincarnated as a cute middle schooler, he's a talking cat from outer space, together they fight against the Dark Agency.
  • 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 giving good advice and helping around town just because (as Japanese cops are supposed to do). And, at the end of the manga, is convinced to become a part time cop.
  • You No Take Candle: Lin-Lin speaks like a stereotypical Chinese person.

(Image scanned by owner of this site)

Alternative Title(s): Codename Wa Sailor V