This volume begins the "Death Busters" story arc, or the Sailor Moon S series for those watching at home. A new enemy is on the horizon, which means the hard-fought peace after dealing with Black Moon is over. The enemy seems to be centered around the Mugen Academy built upon a triangle of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. At the center of it all is an elite private school that attracts talented students, like violin virtuoso Michiru Kaiō, or the star race car driver, Haruka Tenō (spelled Ten'ô in this translation). Both have frequent run ins with Usagi and Mamoru, and seem to know more about the new enemy than they let on. Chibi-Usa makes a new friend, Hotaru, whose father runs the Mugen Academy and has been known to conduct questionable genetic experiments. Later, the Outer Sailor Guardians make their first appearance, but it's not the happy team-building moment that Usagi wishes it was!
The Death Buster arc, while having a pretty silly name, is where the storyline starts to get really complicated and enjoyable. While the bad guys continue to be the elements-based teams of perfect numbers to single out our Sailor Soldiers, the variation on our good-guy team makes this story arc exceedingly satisfying. The Outer Senshi (guardians) are some very complex characters. This is also the beginning of where American audiences of the original show had the most consternation. Haruka presents sometimes as male, sometimes as female. In this edition, the translators have chosen to use pronouns for Haruka that match the gender she displays at the moment, and when asked if she's a girl or a guy, Haruka's response is, "Does it matter?" Haruka and Michiru are also in a relationship, which prompted English translators of old to make them "cousins" who are just really close. With this storyline, Takeuchi introduced audiences to possibly one of their first nonbinary characters, and one of the first LBGTQ+ relationships.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Reviews of previous volumes in this series: vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4
Tags: Rating: 10/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Magical Girl, Romance, School Age
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