Is Codename: Sailor V a Canonical Prequel to Sailor Moon?

Codename: Sailor V

Codename: Sailor V

If there’s one thing that the past several years of blogging about Sailor Moon has taught me, it’s that nothing is as simple as it seems, especially when it comes to the in-universe timeline.

While an amazing series in its own right, Codename: Sailor V (“Sailor V“) only seems to exacerbate this problem by squeezing a whole story line into the one year or so leading up to Usagi and Luna’s fateful meeting — all without ever addressing the implications her adventures have upon Sailor Moon‘s lore.

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the connections between these two  series and try to answer the question of whether we can truly consider Sailor V to be a prequel, or perhaps part of a parallel universe. You might want to take notes, because we’ve got a lot to discuss!

Sailor V: the OTHER Sailor Suited Solider of Justice

Sailor V: the OTHER Sailor Suited Solider of Justice

What can — and can’t! — be considered as canonical within the Sailor Moon universe is something I’ve already touched on in the past, but due to how closely the Sailor V and Sailor Moon universes are intertwined, it seemed like a better idea to save the conversation for its own article.

Which is what we’re here to talk about now… or at least as it relates to the manga. That’s right, we’re not touching the anime today, because it pretty much doesn’t overlap at all. But I digress.

Anyway, part of the problem comes from the sheer length of the series. Obviously most fans are aware of the fact that Sailor V debuted before Sailor Moon. This is pretty obvious considering that the former served as the inspiration behind the creation of the latter. What they may not know, however, is that Sailor V also ran longer than Sailor Moon.

The publishing schedule is a bit complicated, so I think a table is in order:1

Act Publication Date (Run Run)
Act 3 Summer 1991
Act 4 Spring 1992
Act 5 Summer 1992
Act 6 Winter 1992
Act 1 May 1993
Act 2 July 1993
Act 7 September 1993
Act 8 November 1993
Act 9 March 1994
Act 10 May 1994
Act 11 September 1995
Act 12 May 1996
Act 13 July 1996
Act 14 September 1996
Act 15 (1) May 1997
Act 15 (2) November 1997

There are two very interesting observations we can make from this chart.

First off, you can see that the Sailor V series itself was written out of order, with the initial two arcs (as eventually published in the manga collection tankobon) only being written a whole two years after the series debuted.

The second noteworthy detail is that Sailor V ran longer than Sailor Moon by both starting earlier and ending later.

While the first point is interesting and probably merits a conversation down in the comments below, it doesn’t really have much to do with our discussion on the canon-ocity2 of the series, so we’ll have to table it for now.

Sailor V!

Sailor V!

As I mentioned above, the length of the series draws attention to a small issue: while it’s generally accepted (or at least I hope it is?) that the stories in Sailor Moon didn’t necessarily play out at the same speed as the issues were released, Minako would be hard-pressed to fit all of her misadventures into the one year or so from when she started adventuring as a super heroine of love and justice and when she joined forces with the Sailor Team.

Even if we were to grant Minako a little bit more time to account for her adventures overlapping with Usagi’s, that still doesn’t account for Sailor V becoming such a hit pop-culture phenomenon that entire video games are developed and released starring her in such a short period of time.

The other big problem that we have to contend with is that Sailor Moon doesn’t actually touch on what Minako did in her role as Sailor V, and when it does mention it, the story doesn’t line up with what we see in the companion manga.

How so? Glad you asked!

According to the Sailor Moon side of the story, Sailor V was a mysterious hero running around Azabu-Juban who was thwarting criminals3 and apparently pretending to be the Moon Princess, though it seems like the Dark Kingdom hadn’t gotten that memo until after she appeared.

Sailor V volume 2

Sailor V volume 2

Back in the Sailor V universe, Minako was fighting all sorts of Youma as she thwarted the various evil plots of the Dark Agency — ostensibly a subsidiary or offshoot of the Dark Kingdom that still reported up to Queen Beryl. Yet neither Usagi, nor any other character in the series, ever mentions any strange monsters causing trouble or other mysterious occurrences in the Azabu-Juban area until after Jadeite and Morga appear. In fact, Naru’s friends write off her experience as nothing more than a dream when she describes what happened the night before.

Perhaps most telling, at least to me, is that the relationship only seems to go one way: Danburite seems to be aware of the Dark Kingdom and of the Four Kings (particularly Kunzite, as Danburite makes reference to him on several occasions) and Artemis is aware that he and Minako are just a small part of a much bigger story.

Sailor Moon‘s Dark Kingdom, however, seems to know nothing about Sailor V’s adventures and makes no effort to try to track her down in either of their efforts to find the Silver Crystal or in finding the Moon Princess — at least not until she appears as Sailor Venus.

That time Sailor V hung out with Sailor Moon

That time Sailor V hung out with Sailor Moon

So with all this in mind, what’s the conclusion?

Personally, I think that the Minako Aino that we see in Codename: Sailor V and in Sailor Moon are different characters with similar — though not the same — back stories. I would put the Sailor V somewhere on the same level of canon as I would the Sailor Moon movies with respect to the anime: they’re very close in terms of story and they overlap on a lot of details, but they simply cannot fit in continuity-wise.

I do think that Ms. Takeuchi originally did plan for the stories to overlap, though ultimately this became less and less possible as the Sailor V series continued and she kept writing new stories, making the relationship between the two universes too complex to easily fit together.

Or, at least that’s my assessment of the situation. Did I miss any crucial details? Anything else that should be considered when trying to put these stories together? Have a different opinion? Let me know what you think down below!

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  1.  See Codename: Sailor V (Wikipedia)
  2. Totally a word
  3.  See the first page of Act 1 of the Sailor Moon manga

29 thoughts on “Is Codename: Sailor V a Canonical Prequel to Sailor Moon?

  1. I can’t recall if the senshi ever actually met Minako as Sailor V, you know, face-to-face. All my manga is boxed up somewhere. Maybe the Sailor V story we got is the same manga they read in the Sailor Moon story; like a movie within a movie. So maybe it could be a fictional story of a real character (like Abe Lincoln – vampire hunter), lol.

    Did a Sailor V manga even exist in the Sailor Moon universe?

    • I don’t recall about the manga, but I do know that a Sailor V manga DID exist in the anime.
      In fact, it causes a continuity error because Usagi asks Umino who Sailor V is in episode one, but then later in her room we can see several volumes of the manga on her desk.

      • It’s possible that after Umino told her who Sailor V was Usagi became an instant fan and went (off camera) and bought several volumes of the series to binge read. She sure does love her manga! I think in the manga she expressed on more than one occasion that she’d like to be a manga artist and in the anime she drew a lot even though some of her drawings looked rather crude at times. I think drawing is mentioned in her official bios too.

  2. On top of that, the humor and tone of the V manga is way different for the most part. Much more in line with the Chibi-Usa Picture Diaries and Exam Battles, with the monsters being comedic rather than menacing.

    In some ways, I always imagined that this was Minako’s interpretation of what she went through.

    As for the video games and plushies, maybe they appeared alongside her or were created by Artemis and the Moon Computer, like how the Crown Game Center had a training base inside and there transformation items and communicators hidden inside.

    Sailor V is to Sailor Moon what Dragon Ball is to Dragon Ball Z. Just as Goku’s early adventures were often nonsensical and never referenced again (the rabbit on the moon, for example) we just have to take it for what it is and what it became, I guess.

    • Sailor V is to Sailor Moon what Dragon Ball is to Dragon Ball Z. Just as Goku’s early adventures were often nonsensical and never referenced again (the rabbit on the moon, for example) we just have to take it for what it is and what it became, I guess.

      While I’m admittedly not a Dragonball expert, didn’t the Red Ribbon Army come from the original Dragon Ball, as well as… whoever that enemy in GT was in the beginning?
      =D Or do we all just pretend that Dragonball GT never happened?

      (honestly, I liked it… at least the first half of it)

      • Yes, a lot of things in Dragon Ball are referenced later on either visually (like having a character make an appearance) or just by mentioning an event while a huge amount of it is never mentioned again or basically retconned. The humor in the early episodes Dragon Ball was over the top and the series went in a pretty different direction.

        I kind of see Sailor V like that, she goes from battling these goofy enemies to a more serious plot involving the Dark Agency being tied to the Dark Kingdom, a treacherous love interest and visions of the Sailor Team.
        I can imagine it was a good way for Naoko Takeuchi to do whatever she liked and have fun while keeping Sailor Moon’s tone more consistent.

    • Ok but that doesn’t actually work since Dragon Ball and DBZ were all storylines in the same manga. Toriyama never separated them. The fact that so much of the tone in Dragon Ball’s first anime (which I consider to be the superior, more cohesive story) and the stories of the rebranded Z anime don’t feel consistent is entirely because Toriyama’s seat-of-his-pants writing style and change in editors allowed the series to wander into places and forget things. Heck, Launch was a consistent presence since DB’s second storyline, then she just randomly stopped appearing because Toriyama didn’t need her in the seventh storyline (Saiyan arc of Z) and completely forgot her by the end of it.

      Sailor V suffers from being its own story that was turned into a prequel. As the publication dates show, most of the Sailor V chapters were written after the first arc that introduced her into Sailor Moon had already gone out. So whatever plans had been in place for Sailor V had to be altered to fit into the Sailor Moon story, but due to in-world timing and an artistically similar cast, it’s not possible to perfectly line up a story that was created independently to dovetail perfectly into a future release as if it were a prequel. It’d be like if George Lucas released Phantom Menace, THEN came up with the rest of Star Wars and released the original trilogy, the prequels, and the Clone Wars series all at the same time. There are too many opportunities to get the wires crossed.

      I like to look at Sailor V as an alternate interpretation of what happened in the backstory of Sailor Moon. Many of Minako’s story beats most likely happened to her, but the story can’t be taken literally or they won’t fit in the world. To borrow from Star Wars again, it’s like the old Expanded Universe continuity hierarchy: Everything is canon, but if two stories contradict each other, the more visible story is kept whole, and the less visible story only keeps the ideas that don’t contradict continuity.

  3. I’d say, it’s probably canon, in so far as Minako was having numerous adventures as Sailor V, predating her introduction to the Sailor Senshi. Beyond that, we have to address either series on their own terms, which changes the terms of the discussion significantly.

  4. Apparently, in the magazine version, the Sailor V chapters published during the run of Sailor Moon (that is, everything besides the pilot and the final parts) were marked as 美少女戦士セーラームーン外伝 (and eventually, 美少女戦士セーラームーンセーラースターズ外伝, because Stars was something of a rebrand).

    What I think happened was that Sailor V was never meant to be tied to the Sailor Moon manga continuity; it’s just that -not- marketing it as related to Sailor Moon quickly became impossible as the latter gained popularity. Perhaps there was still demand for more Sailor V adventures after the anime adaptation went with a different heroine, or maybe Takeuchi wanted to make more stories about her.

    But then the audience would be thinking, aren’t the two plots connected somehow? So when the Sailor Moon manga ended, wrapping up Sailor V without outright turning it into a prequel probably would seem a bit awkward.

  5. I am sorry but I disagree to many things from Sailor V were referenced in the manga for them to not be in the same universe. Codename Sailor V is definitely canon to the Sailor Moon manga. Yes there are plotholes in both series but there are plotholes in the Sailor Moon manga proper as well. Likewise I see the movies as being canon to the 90s anime. Nothing stops them from being so. The R and S movies fit quite well into the 90s anime canon. The only movie that has questionable canonicity is the SuperS movie with the presence of Sailor Pluto but even that can be explained away. I would also add when it comes to monsters and all that Sailor V in the Sailor Moon manga was referenced in fighting crime and monsters and stuff before hand. So again I think saying that Sailor V is not canon to the Sailor Moon manga is really a stretch as Sailor V has always been billed as the canonical prequel to Sailor Moon and plots and people from Sailor V were referenced in Sailor Moon.

    • It’s always good to hear other opinions on stuff like this! Like you mentioned, I believe that the Sailor V manga is on about the same level of canon as the movies: the majority of the information we get in them (e.g., how old Mamoru was when his parents died, what his experiences were like in the hospital, etc.) can be relied on and we can take them as fact in the series proper, but the specific events that occurred (such as the battle against Fiore) simply cannot exist in the timeline proper.
      So the information contained within Sailor V is canon, but the specific stories we see unfold aren’t… if that makes any sense.

      Just one thing, though:

      …as Sailor V has always been billed as the canonical prequel to Sailor Moon and plots and people from Sailor V were referenced in Sailor Moon.

      As far as I’m aware, this is just the obvious conclusion fans have reached. I don’t recall ever seeing Sailor V officially billed as a “prequel” to Sailor Moon. Unless I’ve missed something?

      • Again the battle with Fiore can fit in the timeline. There was a person called Lunar Archivist who had a Sailor Moon FAQ and timeline where he basically fit the movies in the seasons. Nothing in the movies atleast R and S contradicts the 90s anime or can’t fit in the timeline well so they are definitely canon just like the specials. The only movie that has questionable canonicity is the SuperS movie due to the presence of Sailor Pluto but even that can be explained away if you are creative.

        Next the stories in Sailor V were definitely canon and Naoko Takeuchi when Sailor Moon as greenlit designed Codename Sailor V to be a prequel to Sailor Moon so it is definitely canon to the manga. Of course there are timeline issues and plot holes in all versions of the series but on the most part things made in the anime or say manga canon are canon to their series unless there are more serious contradictions like Sailor Moon Another Story which really if anything plays like an alternate universe version of the 4th season.

        • Again the battle with Fiore can fit in the timeline.

          The battle against Fiore can only fit into the timeline if you assume that it occurs in the middle of the Black Moon arc (and yet, conveniently, the Black Moon isn’t around?) or else you deal with the issue of ChibiUsa still being there despite the fact that she left to return to the future at the very end of Sailor Moon R.

          I’m sure if people get really creative it’s possible to shoe-horn the movies in, but simply don’t work in the canonical timeline.

          Besides, there’s only a very short period of time after Usagi and Mamoru get back together (which they obviously have to be back together due to the whole premise of the movie) and ChibiUsa’s final departure.

          So I’d still argue that the movies cannot possibly fit into the anime timeline.

  6. Interesting! I never read “Sailor V”, so I never got quite how the canon fit together. Do you think it’s likely that it was SUPPOSED to fit together, but Takeuchi, like many (okay, almost all) manga writers, was just never really that into keeping track of her own continuity, and accidentally made them not merge properly? I find a lot of mangaka tend to fly by the seat of their pants with continuity and important backstory stuff, and the record-keeping stuff seems to be more of a Western phenomenon.

    • I think that initially they were supposed to be one continuous story, but Naoko didn’t actually have the full story planned out, so the longer the series ran the more convoluted it got. That’s what makes it really hard to rectify the two series.

      For example, if you were to put together only Act 3 (the very first “pilot” story) of Sailor V and combine it with the Sailor Moon manga, it works just fine. But as both series continued to run and their plots continued going in new directions, it became more and more difficult to make them play nice together.

  7. As I recently pointed out over on the Sailor Moon Forum, in The Lover of Princess Kaguya side story, Minako says that her first love, Higashi, was a member of the volleyball team, but in actuality, in the Sailor V manga, he’s on the basketball team. Continuity error? Mandela effect? You decide! 😛

    (By the way – it’s exacerbate the situation, not exasperate ;P)

    • Or!

      1) Minako had two first loves, both named Higashi (???)
      2) Higashi was so awesome, he was on multiple sports teams
      3) Naoko wasn’t all that good at keeping track of continuity… =p Y’know, like literally everything about Pluto.

      (By the way – it’s exacerbate the situation, not exasperate ;P)

      Fixed! You’re absolutely right… thanks for the catch!

      • Yeah Naoko Takeuchi and also the writers of the 90s anime could be very inconsistent. However for Sailor Pluto atleast I felt that her 90s anime story was a bit less plot hole ridden then the manga. However even in the 90s anime there are plot holes. Like for instance how in the Makai Tree arc Luna says that only Usagi can use the Disguise Pen. Yet in Sailor Moon S Minako uses it to transform into the fake Sailor Moon to confuse Kaolinite. Which is hilarious as this plot hole could have completely been avoided because Minako has her own Disguise object the Crescent Moon Compact so she could have used that instead of the Disguise Pen though unlike the Disguise Pen the Crescent Moon Compact can only be used if charged in the Moonlight which Minako sometimes forgot to do. However I wouldn’t say this plot hole causes S to be non canon to the previous two seasons it is just a plot hole. Likewise the series timeline in all versions is a hot mess with Usagi and the Inners going two years in the 8th and 9th grade in the 90s anime and the 8th and 10th Grade in the manga. I just chalk it up to the series having a floating timeline a la Marvel or DC.

        • More or less yeah but continuously toward creating fit timeline is not supposed to be easy as more and more your story move forward hard is to stay fathful to their design of ages of characters and passed of times.

  8. I’d be curious if the release of Sailor Moon Act 29 occurred around the same time as a chapter of Sailor V. That’s the one where Minako uses her compact to disguise herself. It’s one of the few direct references to the events of Sailor V that occur in the manga. It would make sense have that crossover to generate sales since Sailor V didn’t have a regular schedule.

    Sailor V went through a lot of changes to make it a prequel, but there wasn’t much effort to make Sailor Moon a sequel.

  9. Interesting article. I just thought I’d give my two cents about this part:

    “Sailor Moon‘s Dark Kingdom, however, seems to know nothing about Sailor V’s adventures and makes no effort to try to track her down in either of their efforts to find the Silver Crystal or in finding the Moon Princess — at least not until she appears as Sailor Venus.”

    The reason for that may be actually very simple: my guess is the DK didn’t know because Danburite never told them. And if you read the “Codename Sailor V” manga to the end, you know why he’d do that (because he’s deeply inlove with her since their past lives, enough to recognize Minako as both Sailor V and Sailor Venus, and enough to know Sailor Venus’ reincarnation can *in no way or form* the Moon Princess, notwithstanding the moon patterns in her Sailor V disguise and attacks…).

    Now then, if what you ask is “how the heck would Danburite get away with hiding all this from Kunzite?”, the answer is also simple: because Danburite, unlike Kunzite, does remember ALL of his past life, down to the smallest detail… whereas Kunzite, Jadeite, Nephrite and Zoisite just THINK that they do, but in truthwe know actually don’t remember anything worth a single sh… (including the lil’ tiny fact they were supposed to be looking for the reincarnated *prince Endymion*, and not serving Beryl…). Thus, it wouldn’t be that hard for the 100% remebering Danburite to fool or keep stuff from the oblivious generals, even if he’s supposed to be inferior to them(after all, as for keeping stuff from the four generals, isn’t that also what Beryl is doing? So, as you can see, they aren’t that hard to fool…).

    As for Beryl herself, she was already too busy trying to keep her generals from remembering their real master (prince Endymion), feeding energy to Metalliaand trying to locate the Silver Crystal, to care about what every single minion in the lower ranks of her side was doing. Even in the past, she had probably never cared to know where each of the brainwashed lackeys came from that joined her side in her past life, enough to know that one of them happened to be someone from planet Venus, and actually a secret die-hard fan of Sailor Venus at that (and well, given how he in spite of that still betrayed the princess of hisown planet, Venus, in order to join her enemies, we can’t exactly blame Beryl for not suspecting anything). Thus, having made sure, in the present, that the reincarnated four generals wouldn’t remember everything much too soon for her liking, she had no reason to think one of Kunzite’s recruited lackeys, someone as “unimportant” as Danburite, would actually be able to remember enough to start developing his own agenda.

    • I think your justification works. I don’t find it too hard to believe that the rest of the Dark Kingdom didn’t pay much attention to Sailor V and Danburite, considering that these are the same people who can’t figure out that their plans would actually be quite successful if they just sent Youmas to literally anywhere else on the planet except this one specific neighborhood in Japan.

    • Agree. What if whole sailor v wvents was actually private chase from Damburite that he was in fact hiding from DK. He just wanted her and didn’t I’m want anyone to interrupt his hunt.

      Also I belive sv manga is mix of actual events that happened to Minako and the stories that was told about her in sv manga that had been released in sm world which would make it kind of memoirs of sv – that’s why we don’t really know what is happening in the enemy’s hq etc

  10. This make me remember about a book named “The star wars: From the adventures of Luke Skywalker”.
    Yes it is the Star Wars 1977 movie but in book, and it was pubished on 1976.
    Various ideas for “possible future movies” appear on this book, of course we have to think on the context of the decade. Lucas and people didn’t have any hope for the film to be a success, the special effects weren’t what Lucas want for this movie and also they had so may difficult times filming on Tunisia’s desert, etc.
    Of course the movie was the hit of the ’77 summer. But there is a courious case for the sequels.
    If the movie wouldn’t be the hit it was, the sequel would be “Splinter of the mind’s eye” by Alan Dean Foster, on 1978 the plans for a sequel took other way.

    But we’re talking about Sailor Moon, so I read your blog for months and well… I think Codename wa: Sailor V and Sailor Moon franchise had a similar story.

  11. What? Chapter 3 of Sailor V was actually the first one to be released? Do you know why? Or did I get something wrong? Was it named “Arc 3” when it came out or only in the re-release in the manga?

    • Sailor V was never meant to be a series, it was a one-shot. So Naoko just picked up right in the middle of the adventure so there was an exciting story to tell.
      Once it got serialized, she continued on for a few chapters before eventually releasing the two prequel acts (1 and 2).

      When it was compiled into volumes, they corrected the order.

  12. The R movie takes place in the middle of R during the time Esmeraude is looking for the crystal points. The S movie takes place towards the end of S, between eps. 120-122. The SuperS movie takes after SuperS but before Stars.

  13. The biggest issue for me is always Kaitou Ace/Danburite not being mentioned in any version of Sailor Moon. That Minako had her own Tuxedo Mask but it didn’t end so happily is something I’d expect to come up.

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