Created and originally published in 1992, Sailor Moon has gone on to become one of the most popular manga series of all time. It tells the story of 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino as she transforms into the titular protagonist to fight evil alongside her fellow Sailor Guardians.
Not only has the manga been adapted into media such as anime series and stage plays, but it has also been reprinted multiple times. These reprints have evolved with readers and technology, so there are numerous ways to access the series. Now, here is a definitive guide to reading Sailor Moon.
Taking place a year before the events of Sailor Moon, Codename Sailor V focuses on Minako Aino, a 13-year-old girl who fights crime as the masked hero Sailor V. With a talking cat named Artemis as her partner-in-crime, Sailor V must combat the Dark Agency and foil their attempts to take over the entertainment agency.
Until 2011, Codename Sailor V had never been published in English. Then Kodansha acquired the licensing rights to it as well as Sailor Moon. While the first edition of Codename Sailor V was published, there is also an Eternal Edition of the series that was released in 2021.
Consisting of chapters the first 14 chapters of the manga, Sailor Moon’s epic adventure begins with Usagi and her friends discovering their abilities as Sailor Guardians, uncovering their past lives in the Moon Kingdom, and battling the Dark Kingdom responsible for ending the Moon Kingdom.
Initially, Sailor Moon was licensed for an English release via Tokyopop, which published the series into 18 volumes from 1998 and 2001. However, the license ran out in 2005 and the Tokyopop editions are now out of print.
In 2011, Kondansha published the series in 12 volumes alongside the first editions of Codename Sailor V. For this series, the Dark Kingdom arc consists of volumes 1-3 of Sailor Moon and has been released as individual volumes as well as two collector box sets with six volumes each.
In 2018, an 'Eternal Edition' of Sailor Moon started publication from Kodansha. The first volume of this edition contains chapters 1-7 of the Dark Kingdom arc, while the remaining seven chapters can be found in volume 2.
Following the Dark Kingdom arc, the second story arc of Sailor Moon features Usagi, her love interest Mamoru, and the Sailor Guardians encountering a mysterious young girl named Chibiusa and a sinister new enemy called the Black Moon clan. Soon, Usagi and the others are swept up into an epic battle for the future. These events take place during chapters 15-26 of the manga series.
This third arc of Sailor Moon occurs when two new figures appear alongside a new private school known as Mugen Academy. Not only have they taken an interest in Sailor Moon, but the school is also stealing the energy of everyone in the city! In the midst of all this, two new Sailor Guardians also appear, but they consider Sailor Moon and the others enemies.
In this fourth arc, a year has passed since the events of the Infinity arc. Usagi and the other Sailor Guardians are now high school students and Chibiusa has almost completed her training as a Sailor Guardian. One day Usagi, Mamoru, and Chibiusa see a pegasus begging for help while observing a solar eclipse. At the same time, Mamoru suddenly falls ill as a ship known as the Dead Moon Circus infiltrates the city and sets up a barrier.
The fifth and final arc of Sailor Moon begins with a shake up for Usagi: Mamoru is going to study abroad and Chibiusa is returning to the future. Unbeknownst to Usagi, a tragic fate befalls Mamoru as a new enemy known as Sailor Galaxia appears on the scene. At the same time, a new idol group known as The Three Lights becomes a hit in the city and their leader, Seiya, takes a particular interest in Usagi.
In addition to the main story of Sailor Moon, there are also shorter manga stories that took place in between various chapters and arcs. These stories included a series of short stories such as 'Chibiusa’s Picture Diary' and 'Exam Battles' as well as stand-alone stories known as 'The Lover of Princess Kaguya,' 'Casablanca Memory,' and 'Parallel Sailor Moon.'
Initially, these stories appeared in English in various volumes of the now out-of-print Tokyopop edition of the Sailor Moon manga. In 2013, they were all collected in two volumes published by Kodansha known as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Short Stories. Unfortunately, the Kodansha reprint is also out of print.
Thankfully, these shorts were reprinted a third time in volumes 4, 6, 8, and 10 of the Eternal Editions of the Sailor Moon manga. Although these stories aren’t essential reading, they are a fun break from the main storyline.
Which Sailor Moon manga editions to buy?
For Codename Sailor V, the Eternal Edition is the best way to go. Not only does this edition feature larger pages, but it also has new covers, a new translation, redesigned lettering, and bonus color illustrations. However, the first edition of the series is also good for those who prefer an affordable version. Note that there is no digital version of Codename Sailor V available.
Similar to Codename Sailor V Eternal Edition, the Sailor Moon Eternal Editions contain more pages (300 each) and a new translation. However, the Eternal Editions are currently the only versions of the Sailor Moon manga available digitally. In addition, a slightly cheaper paperback known as the Naoko Takeuchi Edition started publication in May 2022. It contains the same content as the Eternal Edition, but with smaller pages.
Out of all the Sailor Moon reprints available, the Eternal Editions are the most cost effective. Not only can you choose between getting the large paperback or digital versions, but the entire series is ready to buy. On the other hand, you could get the Naoko Takeuchi Editions or the twelve volume box sets if you want smaller pages. Note that the latter is slightly harder to find, while the former will involve some waiting for the next volumes to be published.
Interest in the anime based on Sailor Moon? Read our how to watch Sailor Moon guide.