The Sailor Moon manga series (美少女戦士セーラームーン Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon)) was the first version of what would eventually become the media franchise known simply as Sailor Moon. It was created by Japanese artist Naoko Takeuchi and debuted in Nakayoshi magazine in December 1991. It continued to be serialized by Nakayoshi throughout its five-year run, except for certain side-stories which appeared in Kodansha's Run Run. The book collections were all published by Kodansha.
Naoko Takeuchi, the story's creator, devised the idea when she wanted to create a cute series about girls in outer space. Her editor, Fumio Osano (whom Takeuchi calls "Osa-P"), asked her to put them in sailor fuku. This resulted in Codename: Sailor V, to which Sailor Moon is a sequel, and which stars one of Sailor Moon's secondary protagonists, Minako Aino.
When Codename: Sailor V was slated to become an anime, Takeuchi decided to merge in plot elements from the popular sentai genre, most notably the concept of a team of five heroes. The manga was reimagined as Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon, with a new central character: Usagi Tsukino. Only after the completion of the first series was Takeuchi asked to continue, and four more story arcs were produced.
The complete original manga spans 52 issues, known as Acts, as well as nearly a dozen side-stories. These were originally collected into 18 Volumes, beginning in July 1992 and concluding with the series in 1997. Beginning in 2003, the series was re-released in a new format known as the "Renewal" or "Shinsōban" edition. The individual Acts have been redistributed so that there are more per book, and some corrections have been made to dialogue and even art. In all, the new edition consists of 12 story volumes (each with new cover-art) as well as two "short story" volumes, separating the short stories from the main plot.
By the end of 1995, the thirteen volumes then available of the Sailor Moon manga had sold about one million copies each.
A special artbook was released for each of the story arcs, plus two additional volumes. They are collections of cover art, promotional materials, and other drawings done by creator Naoko Takeuchi. Many of the drawings are accompanied by comments on how she developed her ideas, how she created each picture, whether or not she likes it, and commentary on the anime interpretation of her story.
- Original Picture Collection Volume I, ISBN 4-06-324507-1, August 1994. Covers development of the original arc.
- Original Picture Collection Volume II, ISBN 4-06-324508-X, August 1994. Covers development of the Black Moon arc.
- Original Picture Collection Volume III, ISBN 4-06-324518-7, September 1996. Covers development of the Infinity arc.
- Original Picture Collection Volume IV, ISBN 4-06-324519-5, September 1996. Covers development of the Dream arc.
- Original Picture Collection Volume V, ISBN 4-06-324522-5, August 1997. Covers development of the Stars arc.
- Original Picture Collection Volume Infinity was released after the end of the series. It was self-published and is considered rare, including art from Takeuchi herself as well as from her friends, her staff, anime staff and from many of the voice-actors (seiyuu) who worked on the anime.
- Materials Collection, ISBN 4-06-324521-7, September 1999. This volume contains character art for nearly every character in the manga, as well as some who never appeared. Each drawing is surrounded with notes from Takeuchi about the specifics of various costume pieces, the mentality of the character, or even her particular feelings about them. It also includes a timeline, both for the manga arcs and for the real-life release of products and materials relating to the anime and manga. At the end, the Parallel Sailor Moon short story is featured.
The manga was translated into English in 1997 by manga publisher Mixx (now renamed Tokyopop). The US comic was released as three series: Sailor Moon, which collects the first three arcs, Sailor Moon Supers, which collects the Dream arc, and Sailor Moon Stars, which collects the Stars arc. While they feature all of the content from the original manga collections, the volumes also contain the occasional new sketch and "thank you" commentary from series creator Naoko Takeuchi. All the names of characters appearing in the first and second story arcs are changed to those used in the English-dubbed anime; subsequent anime seasons had not yet been released in English, so all characters introduced thereafter retain their Japanese names.
As of May 2005, Tokyopop's license to the Sailor Moon manga has lapsed and is out of print.
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