“Sailor Moon” #27-32 – Multiversity Comics

Welcome back to our Summer Comics Binge of Naoko Takeuchi’s “Sailor Moon,” today we’re looking at the first half of the manga’s third arc, ‘Infinity,’ which introduces Sailor Uranus (Haruka Tenou) and Neptune (Michiru Kaiou), as well as the future Sailor Saturn, Hotaru Tomoe. The storyline sees Usagi and friends encounter the hostile new Guardians while investigating the mysterious Mugen Academy, which has been linked to a series of bizarre monster attacks, and is secretly run by the Death Busters, a cult that worships the alien god Pharaoh 90, led by none other than Hotaru’s father, Professor Tomoe.

Venus’s reaction to the new Guardians (scan taken from an earlier translation)

In the first chapter, Haruka and Michiru warn the Inner Senshi not to interfere with their mission, leaving them (and the reader) in doubt as to whether they’re friends or foes. As with previous arcs, the early issues follow a formula where one or two of the Guardians are pitted against a counterpart from the enemy’s henchmen, who this time round are Magus Kaolinite’s Witches 5 (why they’re not called the Witches 6, I’ ll never know.) The Outer Senshi spy on these proceedings and eventually start intervening, but in an aloof manner that engenders little love towards them. It feeds back into our title character’s continuing growth of her, as she proves she’s a true leader by trying to reconcile the two groups.

Usagi and Mamoru also encounter Haruka and Michiru countless times in civilian mode, causing a couple of minor love triangles to develop, a realistic development showing our teenage heroine may not want to be locked in with her future husband. Which brings us to Haruka, who is a fascinatingly genderfluid character in particular: at the start everyone assumes her to be a boy, because she wears masculine clothes, and doesn’t wear jewelery or make-up. When she’s first spotted in superhero mode, she wears a mask and cape, much like Mamoru’s alter-ego Tuxedo Mask, playing up the idea of ​​her de ella as a romantic rival. (It took me a while, but I eventually figured out the biggest difference when Haruka presents as a boy is that she doesn’t have long eyelashes: very clever.)

That said, gender’s not a problem for Haruka, who kisses Usagi on the lips when she meets her for the first time in superhero girl mode; it may now be 2022, but it feels as extraordinary to see now as it would’ve been in the past, especially as Usagi still remains under her spell of her, and fantasizes about her after deducing the truth. Even more groundbreakingly, by the end of this stretch of issues, Michiru tells Usagi her partner de ella is “both a man and a woman. She is a Guardian of both, with her attributes and strengths limited to neither ”— it’s an incredible affirmation of her androgyny de ella, one that could very well make her one of the first genderqueer or non-binary superheroes, and still one of the most unique ever created.

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With Uranus and Neptune’s prominence, it can be easy to overlook this arc also introduces Saturn as Hotaru Tomoe, whose tragic backstory is similarly key to the darker tone: between having a cold, mad scientist for a father, a mother who was killed in a fire at one of his labs, physical fits, and being an outcast at school, Hotaru’s life is considerably worse than any of the other Sailor Guardians.

Chibiusa getting to know Hotaru

Chibiusa is the primary character who becomes concerned with befriending and checking in on her, a decision that makes her story more palpable thanks to the little heroine’s sweetness and light; it also has an upsetting pay off when Chibiusa accidentally discovers Hotaru has sinewy prosthetics as a result of the fire she survived as a little girl, which freaks her out, sending Hotaru spiraling into rage and loneliness — poor Chibiusa, no one should have to tend to someone else’s mental health alone like that though.

The arc introduces one more Guardian, or rather, reintroduces her: Pluto returns, reborn in the present as Mugen physics student Setsuna Meiou. Setsuna’s debut at the end of chapter #30 is a great twist, as she was shown as a child during Neo-Queen Serenity’s reign, meaning you’re truly baffled as to how she’s still alive; but as she says when she remembers on awakening her de ella powers and alter-ego de ella at the end of the next chapter, she was reincarnated in the past by Serenity to help Uranus and Neptune’s mission. As Chibiusa puts it, her old friend de ella is “not quite like the Pluto I used to know,” which is only a natural reaction to learning someone you knew has lived another life elsewhere.

We’ll return to discuss the second half of the arc next week.

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