Codename: Sailor V
In 1991, Mangaka Naoko Takeuchi, at the time popular for her figure-skating manga The Cherry Project, was offered the chance to do a one shot story about anything she wanted. Being a fan of both Magical Girl and Henshin Hero shows, she created Codename Sailor V, intended to be a humorous one-off in which a girl was given Henshin Hero powers due to her connection to Venus, both the planet and the goddess.
This little one off caught the attention of Toei Animation, who saw potential (and yen signs), and contacted Takeuchi with the view to expanding it into an anime, though one with more characters in the style of a Sentai show. Eventually that series became Sailor Moon, a manga and anime that are far better known.
Codename: Sailor V (or Codename wa Sailor V) is the story of Minako Aino, whom Sailor Moon fans will know as Sailor Venus. While it started as a one-off, it basically morphed into the story of the Fifth Ranger before she joins the Five-Man Band. Minako in many ways is very similar to Usagi, given that Usagi is actually an Expy of Minako. But Sailor V is a generally sillier, goofier series than the Sailor Moon manga; it's closer in feel to the Sailor Moon anime in it's first season.
However it does get a little darker toward the end, and there is a recurring theme of Minako being unlucky in love. While this is mostly Played for Laughs, on a few occasions it's played with melancholy seriousness, especially in the Grand Finale that leads directly into the storyline of Sailor Moon.
Of course, at the end of the series, Minako awakens her Sailor Venus identity and discards her Sailor V one, learning about her past life and moving on to become the character we all know from Sailor Moon. It also goes a good way to explaining why Sailor Venus, in the manga, is much more serious than her civilian self.
It ended in 1997, sometime after the Sailor Moon manga. Though as it only ran sporadically (in Nakayoshi's sister magazine, RunRun), it is much shorter, filling 3 collected volumes (2 in the revised editions), whereas Sailor Moon filled 18 (14 in the revised editions). Despite the popularity of Sailor Moon worldwide, Sailor V was rarely licensed and it wasn't until late 2011 that the series finally received an official translation into English
- A Plague on Both Your Houses: Danburite's last words.
- Art Imitates Life: Marie Buraidaru, author of Aurora Wedding, based the main character, Linda Evangeligeli, off herself. She also based Linda's love interest, Coattail Mask, off her editor, Shinro Baishaku, because she had a crush on him. Marie finally ends the series with Linda's wedding just as she marries Shinro in real life.
- Ascended Fangirl: Superintendent Sakurada is a closet V fan and would do anything to get her to join the police force. The very end of the manga is basically her succeeding in this goal at last.
- Marie Buraidaru, author of Aurora Wedding, also writes doujinshi about Phantom Ace. She's admitted to doing yaoi between him and one of the characters from her manga, Coattail Mask.
- Beautiful All Along: Marie-sensei, without her glasses, looks exactly like Linda, the main character in her manga.
- Big Beautiful Woman: DeBrine thinks she's this. She's more Hollywood Pudgy, as she's only got a rounder face a bigger bust compared to other women in the manga.
- Big Eater: Minako and Princess Lin-Lin.
- But Not Too Foreign: Maiku Otonaru, one-quarter Russian.
- Butt Monkey: Artemis, as per usual. As well as Wakagi and his older brother, because of V.
- Dead Little Sister: Inverted and played straight to a literal degree. Petite Pandora and Chuu-Chuu both want to avenge their dead older siblings, and Wan-Wan wants to avenge the death of his little sister Nyan-Nyan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Artemis, at least when he's not in the midst of freaking out over something.
- Delinquents: Vivian attempts to draw energy from brainwashed gangs of juvenile delinquents. She herself dresses as a typical sukeban, even though she appears to be twenty-something.
- There is also Saitou and his gang, though they're more of a group of jerks with hearts of gold. Saitou orders that Mina is officially under his protection, and anyone who messes with her answers to him.
- Domino Mask: See the picture above. Also doubles with Goggles Do Nothing as she ditches them after her series ends, proving that a tiara is just as effective at hiding her identity as a mask.
- Doomed by Canon: Guess what happens to Phantom Ace/Danburite/Adonis in the last story?
- Early-Bird Cameo: The rest of the Sailor Senshi of the Inner Solar System make pre-awakening appearances here (as does Naru). An in-universe manga also used the character designs for who would become the ten Sailor Senshi.
- Evil Diva: The Dark Agency is full of them.
- Expy: A lot of readers unfamiliar with the timeline mistake Minako for a Usagi rip-off, not realizing that Minako came a year before Sailor Moon. Those familiar with both series will argue that while both silly Genki Girls, Minako is more likely to turn into a drama queen over a situation whereas Usagi will just squat down and cry. In general Minako is more action-oriented than Usagi, and these differences get played up in the Sailor Moon manga, where Minako plays The Lancer and The Captain to Usagi's hero.
- Minako's otaku pal Amano is drawn exactly the same as Usagi's otaku pal Umino. Some speculate he's a relative...or maybe the same guy, who just transferred schools and had a slight name change.
- Minako's best friend Hikaru looks exactly like Ami, aka Sailor Mercury.
- Saito has an uncanny resemblance to Kunzite. Noting that he resembled someone she couldn't remember was one of the earliest instances of Mina recalling her past life.
- A Father to His Men: Saito to his gang. They understand that he's meant for better things and try to get Minako to get through to him because they want to see him graduate with a clean record.
- Filler Arc: The Pet Diary stories and "Youth Bet on the Hachimaki Stone" don't advance the Dark Agency plot in any way (the former featuring villains completely unreleated to the Dark Agency, and the latter having a Dark Agency character just doing stuff For the Evulz.) They do, however, focus a bit more on Artemis and feature more nods to Sailor Moon.
- Fun Personified: The manga's general tone, save for it's Grand Finale.
- Gamer Chick: Minako, who is obsessed with getting the high score on any given video game in the arcade.
- Gender Bender: Minako uses her disguise powers to become a hot teen boy at one point in order to trick a vain Monster of the Week.
- Gender Blender Name: Minako calls Artemis on this.
- Generation Xerox: Dark Guys, Twin Dark, and Dark Shizukahime are all clones of Fluroite, the head of the Dark Agency's talent division.
- Genki Girl: Minako.
- Henshin Hero
- I'm a Humanitarian: Princess Lin-Lin, though never actually shown, is contemplating the best way to cook Mina after killing her.
- Inspector Javert: Wakagi.
- Interspecies Romance - Well, kinda. Artemis had a short lived crush on a dog named Luna-chan who turned out to have been part of Wan-Wan's nefarious plot, in that it was Wan-Wan in disguise. And a male.
- In the Name of the Moon: Sailor V could give Darkwing Duck a run for his money when it comes to making completely absurd introductory speeches.
- Ill Boy: Maiku Otonaru.
- Irony: Adonis, a soldier for Kunzite who loved Sailor Venus in a previous life, dies with his love unrequited. He's reborn on Earth, but fights the woman he used to love because he's still serving Kunzite, who is with the Dark Kingdom now. The biggest irony is that Minako, who didn't even know this man in her previous life, falls in love with his heroic alter-ego Ace. C'est la vie.
- Magical Girl: Was one even before Sailor Moon took off.
- The Man Behind the Man: Fluorite is presented as the Big Bad in the first chapter, but is later revealed to actually serve Danburite, who in turn is serving Kunzite (who himself serves Queen Beryl, who serves Queen Metaria. Whew!)
- The Most Dangerous Video Game: The Cyberwarrior Girl Luga game, both the arcade and home console version. Luga uses it to cause fits of rage in order to steal energy.
- Mysterious Protector: Phantom Ace, who was created well after Tuxedo Mask seemingly to fill that role for Sailor V. It turns out that Naoko Takeguchi was playing off audience expectations, as Phantom Ace turns out to actually be the Big Bad, Danburite.
- Nerd Glasses: Amano and mangaka Marie Buraidaru.
- Prequel: Actually, its first few chapters predate Sailor Moon but most of it was completed during or after Sailor Moon's run.
- Punny Name: Sound it out: C'est la vie...
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Superintendant Sakurada manages to reassign Inspector Wakagi to Siberia at one point. Understandably, he lampshades why the heck the Japanese police force has a Siberian outpost in the first place.
- The Runaway: In Chapter 11, Artemis feels unappreciated and tries this tactic with Minako, deciding to stay away from her until she comes looking for him. He's gone for a day, then comes back because he's worried about her, only to find she's barely registered that he was gone in the first place.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In Sailor Moon canon, the Big Bad for this storyline is a mere underling of the first manga arc's Quirky Miniboss Squad (specifically under Kunzite), though he does get to control a whole subgroup within the Dark Kingdom - the Dark Agency.
- Story Within a Story: Minako's a fan of a manga called Aurora Wedding, which is essentially a parody of Sailor Moon. It ends at 110 volumes, running since the author was in her second year of middle school.
- Taught by Television: Well, by video games, Minako learns Artemis was the name of a ancient Greek goddess from a game. This gives Artemis the idea to have the Sailor V game made to train her.
- Temporary Bulk Change: One of the more elaborate Dark Agency schemes involved DeBrine selling highly fattening (and delicious) chocolates cheap around Valentine's Day. The girls eat them, they get fat, then give them to the boys, who also get fat. DeBrine then creates a weight loss clinic which endorses a miracle treatment, while she's really just sucking the energy of her clients and scamming them out of their money. Meanwhile, "fat" becomes the new in-look for the city even though everyone's trying to lose weight. DeBrine espouses that "this is the age of glamour girls". Despite failing, this was one of the more successful Dark Agency schemes because of how elaborate it was, lasting longer than most of the others.
- Theres No Kill Like Overkill: In the final story, V's "Venus Love Megaton Shower" is so strong it brings down the entire building.
- Tragic Villain: Danburite.
- Unlucky Everydude: Or Dudette in this case. It should be noted that Wakagi's brother plays this straight. He just can't catch a break directly or indirectly because of V.
- Also Wakagi himself, when Sailor V is concerned: to show up the police, Sailor V solved various cases... And they all happened to be Wakagi's job, causing him a lot of trouble with his boss and getting him temporarily reassigned to Siberia.
- "V" Sign: See the picture above, Sailor V uses it as her magical girl hand gesture
- You No Take Candle: Lin-Lin speaks like a stereotypical Chinese person.