As funny as it sounds, despite the fact that I love shojo manga and that I've enjoyed quite a few magical girl series I have never read the Sailor Moon manga and only saw a little bit on tv when I was a kid, not enough for me to remember anything about it at all (I actually had to check with my mom to make sure I hadn't simply imagined it since I literally remember nothing). Ever since Kodansha started publishing the new releases I've wanted to check out the series but fate seems to be conspiring against me since I have the worst luck getting hold of it (my first friend wanted to read her copies first, fair enough, but got so bogged down with school work that the semester ended and she's studying aboard now and the girl whom I borrowed these from has three other people also reading the series, while also dealing with a lot of school work, so at this point I've given up on getting a hold of them in the next few months). I am actually happy that I was able to read Codename Sailor V first since I do like reading things in chronological order and it seems like even if I forget some of the details from here by the time I get around to Sailor Moon that it won't matter too much.
Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi
The Good: I was pleasantly surprised to see other characters from Sailor Moon making background cameos, especially as the series went on, since it provided a nice sense of continuity and the ending wouldn't have worked as well without those little hints. I suppose the story also works rather well as an introduction to Sailor Moon in general, it seems to give a good feel for the early story and at two generously sized volumes it's not a huge time commitment either.
The Bad: I honestly did not like Minako that much which makes me a little nervous for Sailor Moon since I know that Usagi is supposed to be similar but with more crybaby tendencies. The stories all felt rather disconnected and like the wrap-up arc was shoehorned in at the end and I had to re-read the final confrontation part because I had no idea what was going on which is never a good sign. I was also confused by the whole "Minako and Artemis' boss who sends them on missions" thing, who WAS that? Is this explained in Sailor Moon? That detail, that there is someone else who knows about the senshi and is in charge of giving out orders to some extent completely baffled me and I'm still confused by that point. I think confusion sums up my feelings here pretty well, there's very little plot advancement, barely any character development for Minako, I'm still not sure where the villains were from or why they were there, I'm just a bit confused why this exists.
The Art: If someone in America is vaguely familiar with manga and you ask them what shojo manga looks like (once you explain what shojo means that is) they'll probably describe something very similar to Takeuchi's art style since for a lot of people that was their biggest exposure to it. The characters are all big eyed with perfect, bouncy, flowing hair and the way you can tell the good guys from the bad guys is that the bad guys are the only unattractive ones. Screentones abound and the art feels a bit rough at times, personally I'm not a huge fan of the way Takeuchi draws her character's faces but there's nothing wrong with the way she draws them. A lot of the characters look very similar however so I'm curious to see if she gets any better at differentiating people for Sailor Moon since that has a much bigger cast.
So yeah, I just didn't like this and it's making me a bit nervous about the main series. I do really like shojo and have enjoyed a number of magical girl series in the past, this one was just a miss for me. I will still be trying out SM once I can get a hold of the volumes but it's not at the top of my to-read list right now.