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!

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Happy Birthday Minako Aino!

Sailor Venus cake by YouTuber DreamChaser

Sailor Venus cake by YouTuber DreamChaser (watch video)

Ah, Minako Aino — part-time lover, part-time volleyball playing, Queen-stabbing Sailor Senshi. Is there nothing this girl can’t do?

Thanks to her dual story arcs in Codename: Sailor V and in Sailor Moon, Minako is one of the few characters sporting character growth nearly on the same level, or possibly even greater, than Usagi herself!

The girl who was once a crime-fighting rookie eventually joins the Sailor Senshi as a veteran warrior and leader of the Sailor Team. The fact that these two arcs blend together so easily is yet another credit to Ms. Takeuchi’s amazing storytelling abilities.

Today in honor of Minako Aino’s birthday (her 41st, if case you’re counting!), we’ll be talking about five interesting facts about her character and the role she plays in Sailor Moon. Be sure to stick her around and wish her a good one!

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Was Codename: Sailor V Inspired by a Volleyball Manga?

Minako plays for keeps in volleyball

Minako plays for keeps in volleyball

When I say “Minako Aino,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? … after “Sailor Venus” … and  “Sailor V” … yeah, after “Artemis” too.

Okay, fine. When I say “Minako Aino” and “favorite sport that you see her engage in occasionally throughout the Sailor Moon anime and manga,” what comes to mind? That’s right, volleyball! Glad we’re on the same page.

While there isn’t really anything terribly remarkable on the surface about the fact that Minako plays volleyball, it turns out that there may actually be yet another of Ms. Takeuchi’s many hidden references when you dig a little deeper.

I hope you’re paying attention, because today we’re going to servevolley of information your way!1

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Why Is Minako Bad at Japanese?

Don't feel bad, Mina-P! We all have weak points...

Don’t feel bad, Mina-P! We all have weak points…

As odd as I’m sure it sounds, this is actually an article I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. Quite simply, it combines two of my favorite activities: talking about Japanese and looking at the minutia of the world of Sailor Moon.

If you’ve got a moment, why not join along as I throw out a possible theory as to why Minako seems to occasionally struggle with the intricacies of the Japanese language.

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Why Do Minako and Rei Always End Up Together?

What's going on here??

What’s going on here??

Alternative title: What Is the Relationship Between Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars?

Whenever the Sailor Soldiers split up in the anime or manga, you’ll notice that the breakdown generally ends up with Makoto and Ami and then Rei and Minako. Today, we’re going to take a look at why that may be, and if there’s any deeper reason as to why Ms. Takeuchi decided on this break down.

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Why Was There No True Leader of the Sailor Team?

Who's in Charge?

Who’s in Charge?

Before you get all excited and start commenting that Sailor Venus was the leader of the Inner Senshi and that this is clearly spelled out in the manga, I’ll stop you right there and point out that I know this. However, outside of one or two mentions in the manga, Sailor Venus never functionally performs any leadership roles, and in the anime I’d say it’s up to debate whether she’s actually leader at all. When you consider that the the battles against the Monsters of the Day end with someone shouting to the effect of “Now, Sailor Moon!” it’s pretty hard to view anyone else but our titular character as the leader. Or… is it?

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Why Did Sailor Venus Play the Role of the Moon Princess?

The Moon and Venus – Not as Different as They Seem

The Moon and Venus – Not as Different as They Seem

One of the odd peculiarities of the co-existence of the shared universes of Code Name: Sailor V and Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is the fact that despite Sailor V(enus) being the first Sailor Soldier to make an appearance, she was the last one to join the team. Not only that, but despite having been the self-proclaimed Sailor Venus,1 she further claimed that she was was the true heir to the Moon Kingdom – Princess Serenity. She not only has the crescent on her forehead, but the Crescent Compact2 to prove it. So what gives? Why was she the one chosen to play the role of the princess (and not Ami, Rei, or Makoto?) and, for that matter, why does she even have a crescent compact in the first place if she’s not even from the moon?

To answer this question, we need to go back in time—almost 405 years exactly3 to the late fall/early winter of 1610, and to the observations of the planet Venus made by Galileo Galilei. Though the existence of Venus had been known to civilizations across the globe since time immemorial, one of Galileo’s greatest contributions to the budding field of astronomy gained through his observation of Venus was in his finding proof that the old geocentric model (in which the Sun, stars, and other celestial bodies revolve around the Earth)4 was provably wrong and that the heliocentric model (in which the Earth and other celestial bodies revolve around the Sun)5 must be correct.

Sailor Venus as Princess Serenity

Sailor Venus as Princess Serenity

And how did Galileo come to this conclusion? Through his observation that Venus has a crescent phase, much like the moon. Or, in Galileo’s own words (in Latin):6

Cynthiae figuras aemulatur mater amorum

And in English:

The mother of love [Venus] copies the forms of Cynthia [the Moon]

Indeed, as Galileo saw it, the significance of Venus in his observations was that it was displaying the same phenomenon we observe on a monthly basis when looking up at the moon. Put into other words, Venus was imitating the moon – not unlike how Sailor Venus pretends to be Princess Serenity, the heir-apparent to the Moon Kingdom. This would also explain being given the crescent compact in the Sailor V manga and her using it as a weapon, since the crescent shape of Venus was one of its important features. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that any of this would have been lost on Ms. Takeuchi. Not only was she clearly thorough with her research in the first place, but she herself is a fan of astronomy and was a member of the astronomy club in high school.7

As for why Sailor Venus was the last to join the team despite the first to make an appearance, there could of course be many answers for this, but part of the reasoning behind that may also lie in her namesake planet: Venus is known both as the Evening Star and as the Morning Star, due to it appearing early in the evening shortly after the sun sets and preceding the sunrise in the early morning. This tracks nicely with her appearance in the Sailor Moon anime and manga, as she both preceded (Sailor) Moon and was the last to make her appearance.

It’s unclear how much of the story Ms. Takeuchi already had planned out ahead of time before the one-shot release of Code Name: Sailor V in RunRun and when, a little over half a year later, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon was first serialized in Nakayoshi, but considering all the work she went into putting together all the other mysteries of the series, there’s definitely a lot there to support a variety of theroies!