From Minako Aino to Sailor V to Sailor Venus
Before there was Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, there was Naoko Takeuchi’s hit short manga series, Code Name wa Sailor V or Code Name: Sailor V. Sailor V was just that– a code name for the girl millions would come to know and recognize as Sailor Venus, the first champion of love and justice, and the guardian of love and beauty.
She was the first Sailor Senshi, her powers activated by Artemis at only age 13. Though she was young, she was quick to fall in love, and her fickle heart led her on a number of journeys, from Japan to Greece to China!
Unlike the brief backstory of Minako that we see in the anime, the manga form of Minako is much more fleshed out, explaining why she is who she is, and how she first came to be Sailor Venus. While her adventures never took her to England, she did travel to other places and meet a number of other people, including a handsome young masked man who called himself “Kaitou Ace,” or “Phantom Thief Ace.” Later on, Ace posed as a pop star and actor named Saijou Ace, and he seemed to know that Minako’s secret identity was Sailor V!
Not that much later, Ace revealed that he was the reincarnation of Adonis, a soldier from the planet of Venus back during the Silver Millennium. He loved Sailor Venus from afar, but she didn’t even know who he was. Instead, she seemed to be in love with a guardian of Prince Endymion’s from Earth, Kunzite. Spurned, Adonis died still loving Venus– and returned to Earth as a member of the Dark Agency, a sub-group of the Dark Kingdom ruled by the evil Queen Beryl. His name was not Adonis nor Ace, but Danburite. For a long time, he’d manipulated various people and youma as the head of the Dark Agency. But was it only revenge driving him, or did he truly have feelings for Minako? We may never know, as he engaged in a battle to the death with Sailor V– one where she defeated him and regained her memories as a guardian of Princess Serenity. Sailor V hoped to save Ace before he vanished like all the other youma, but he was already crumbling when he left some parting words for her: “You are cursed. You will never find true love.” Thus their brief dalliance ended in China and Minako returned to Japan, her memories of Princess Serenity and the other Sailor Senshi masking her secret sorrow…
Kaitou Ace, the original Masked Man!
Before there was Tuxedo Mask, there was Kaitou Ace… right? Well, believe it or not, the Code Name wa Sailor V manga wasn’t actually finished until after Naoko Takeuchi finished Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, in 1997. Though Minako’s adventures initially began before Usagi’s, Minako didn’t really meet Ace -or Danburite- until the end of the second (of the original printing) manga in the Code Name wa Sailor V series. The Code Name wa Sailor V manga ran in Run-Run magazine at a much slower rate than the original Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon series, so Kaitou Ace didn’t really appear until the May 1994 issue of Run-Run. The collected chapters (or “volumes”) appeared in the second book of the Code Name wa Sailor V series, with the final book and Ace’s last appearance occurring in the May 1997 issue of Run-Run and on November 6, 1997 (Code Name wa Sailor V manga tankoubon volume 3). So, technically speaking, Kaitou Ace actually appeared after Tuxedo Mask appeared in the manga. Still, it’s nice to know that Mamoru (Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon’s Tuxedo Mask) isn’t the only masked crusader helping a Sailor Senshi out. But it should be noted that Ace didn’t throw roses, wield a cane, or reveal any planetary-based powers; though he was a soldier of Venus, he wasn’t its planetary guardian (that was, of course, Minako’s job), and any powers he had derived from his affiliation with the Dark Kingdom. When he did “save the day” in some way, he used playing cards (particularly Aces, of course). He also used cards for fortune telling, something that you can do, too!
The Manga vs. The Anime
Minako’s story differed greatly from the anime to the manga. This fanlisting and site revolve around characters and story arcs found only in the manga, not referenced at all in the anime. In the anime when Sailor V was mentioned, she was active in initially in Japan but later moved to England, where youma were appearing and crime rates were soaring. She fell in love with a handsome Englishman named Alan and worked alongside Katerina, an officer from Interpol, England’s police force. One day, a building Sailor V and Katerina were checking out exploded; Alan and Katerina thought that Sailor V died. Sailor V made it out alive, but when she saw Alan and Katerina embracing -not mourning her, but comforting one another as lovers- she realized she had no place in England anymore. She returned to Japan and watched over the other Sailor Soldiers before eventually joining them as Sailor Venus during the battle against Kunzite and Zoisite. In other words, there was no Kaitou Ace in the anime, at least not one that was mentioned (in the same context as the manga). Minako does say that when she first became Sailor V, she was in Japan, but the way she got treated by her “friends” and “classmates” upset her; they realized she was drifting further and further away, and they began to call her stuck-up and snobbish. So, Minako sought independence by fighting on her own in England, but it didn’t work out that way; she naturally gravitated toward others and let them in on her secret identity. Minako ended up leaving them to think she was dead, even though they had not lied to her or manipulated her the way Kaitou Ace had… Regardless of what canon you subscribe to, Minako’s past is a sad one, fraught with heartbreak.
I started this fanlisting out of a love for the tragic and short arc between Sailor V (Sailor Venus, Minako Aino) and Kaitou Ace (Danburite, Saijou Ace). Unlike Sailor Moon x Tuxedo Mask from the longer and more well-known Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon anime and manga, Sailor V and Kaitou Ace’s relationship hardly got any recognition in fandom, and Minako was typically passed off as being “boy crazy” without reason, when in fact, she’s been through a lot that has her hoping to find “true love” in all the wrong places. The manga version of Minako is also a great deal more mature and developed than her anime counterpart, which I think expands the possibilities for her in fanfiction, fanart, and beyond.