Minako is first introduced in the Sailor V manga, of which she is the star. She is awakened as a Senshi by the white cat Artemis when she is 13 years old and instructed that she has a duty to become the beautiful warrior, Sailor V. Artemis explains that Venus and Earth are "twin planets" of about the same size and weight, that Venus is her "mother star", and that she must protect Earth from its enemies. He shows her Magellan Castle orbiting around Venus and says that it is hers, although the existence of these castles is not revealed to the other Senshi characters until late in the Sailor Moon series. She first dons her red hair bow during the first chapter of the story, on the recommendation of a cute boy, and is almost never seen without it again.
Minako is depicted as athletic, cheerful, romantic, and resilient. When Sailor V was enough of a hit to earn its own anime adaptation, Takeuchi was asked to expand the concept to include more girls, and when she did, she placed Usagi Tsukino as the protagonist, with Minako as a part of the team.
In the anime, Minako is given a slightly different backstory, having spent some of her time as Sailor V in England, where she met a young Interpol officer named Katarina who taught her English and acted as a big sister, and a young man called Alan, with whom she fell in love. After Sailor V was caught in an explosion and believed to be dead, she saw them together and realized that they, without her knowing, had become a couple. She moved back to Japan shortly thereafter. She is also widely traveled in the manga, having visited Greece and China.
As a result of her past battles, when Minako meets the other Senshi she has a relatively serious personality, and is very focused on their mission as Sailor Senshi. In the manga, she even tells them she is the Princess they have been searching for, although in fact she is merely serving as a decoy to protect the real princess, Usagi. Throughout the first story arc she has by far the strongest memories of their past life on the Moon Kingdom. After the first story arc concludes, she becomes a more excitable, even goofy character, and her adventures frequently involve overconfidence, enthusiastic determination to come out on top, and slapstick humor. In the anime, her speech is peppered with malapropisms and fractured proverbs. In the English-dubbed anime, "Mina's" personality is adjusted somewhat further; she adopts a valley girl dialect, and in the latter two seasons is rewritten as being sarcastic or mean-spirited in places where she had not been in the original Japanese.
Artemis lives in Minako's home (as Luna lives in Usagi's) and is one of her closest friends. Minako lives with both her parents, although references to her family life are few in the Sailor Moon series. Her family, like Usagi's, is based on Takeuchi's own family. For the first several story arcs, Minako attends a different junior high school from the others, Shiba Kōen. When the characters enter high school, she joins Usagi, Ami, and Makoto at Azabu Jūban. One of her greatest loves is volleyball, as shown from the beginning of the first Sailor V chapter throughout the rest of the series—she even considers quitting the Sailor Senshi to become a professional, and in high school joins the Volleyball club. Her favorite class is Physical Education, while in the manga her least favorites are mathematics and the English language. In the anime, having lived in England for some time, she is skilled at the language, and Usagi begs Minako to teach her.
Minako's other greatest love is pop culture. She desperately wants to be an idol, and so makes a hobby of chasing them and attending auditions whenever possible. She takes her role as the "Soldier of Love" literally, and enjoys regaling friends and acquaintances with advice about romance. Despite her declared expertise, Minako herself has little personal experience in relationships (aside from a brief and ill-fated love in the Sailor V manga), but is enthusiastic about romantic opportunities — even to the point of two-timing a pair of the series' villains. She has a crush on Yaten Kou throughout the Sailor Stars anime storyline, and in one episode just thinking about him gives her a nosebleed — a common symbol of sexual arousal in anime. In the manga, by contrast, Minako suspects Yaten of being an enemy; while confronting the Starlights, she and Rei reaffirm that they do not need men because they have dedicated their lives to their duty of protecting Usagi.
As Sailor V A preliminary form, under which Minako fought alone before the other Sailor Senshi were awakened. She was used to distract the enemy into thinking she was the Moon Princess, while trying to find the real one. She wore a very different uniform under this name, most notably a red mask, and her appearance and powers incorporated the use of a crescent motif. In the early storyline of Sailor Moon, she is something of a celebrity figure, of whom Usagi Tsukino is a great fan. She called herself the Soldier of Justice.
Because Minako's creation predates the Sailor Moon metaseries, some aspects of her character are slightly incompatible with the other Senshi. For example, her magical attacks lack the strict elemental rules: Venus is typically associated with metal in Chinese astrology, but her attacks are mostly light- or love-related. The incorporation of the "love element" comes from the Roman goddess Venus; the association with light is only found in the anime version.
Sailor V's uniform is mostly blue and red, and includes shoulder-armor, quarter-length sleeves, and broad stripes of color. She wears a shirt rather than a leotard, as well as her characteristic red mask. Some of the details vary between version to version; in the manga and live-action series the shirt had sleeves and smooth gloves, but in the anime it was sleeveless with ring-topped gloves. The anime added a second layer to her shoulder guards, omitted the crescent Moon that is normally visible on her forehead, and added a second stripe to her collar. In the live-action series, the bow on Sailor V's chest was made dark pink, like the red parts of Sailor Moon's costume, but her mask and hair bow are red.
Minako, like the other Sailor Senshi, must transform in order to gain access to her celestial powers. To transform into Sailor Venus, she must first raise a special device (pen, bracelet, wand, or crystal) into the air and shout a special phrase, originally "Venus Power, Make-up!" As she becomes more powerful and obtains new transformation devices, this phrase changes to evoke Venus Star, Planet, or Crystal Power. In the anime, Sailor Venus's transformation sequence evolves slightly over time, whether to update the background images or to accommodate changes to her uniform or a new transformation device, but the animations all involve a ribbon of stars which she whips around to form her outfit.
Minako's transformations into Sailor V are not clearly shown—in the Sailor V manga, she raises her transformation pen and shouts the phrase Moon Power Transform. By saying the word Crescent first, she can take on a disguise using her Crescent Compact, and this is used in the Sailor Moon manga as well. In the live-action series she is shown storing her uniform in a suitcase, but she is also shown changing instantaneously into Sailor V while running down the street. Although her true identity as Sailor Venus takes precedence over her temporary Sailor V guise, in her own manga series she used a number of powers unique to the form. Her most important item was the Crescent Compact, which she used to gain energy for her primary attack, Crescent Beam (a beam of light which strikes enemies). She is also given numerous physical attacks, references to her guardian planet, and comically named one-off powers. The Compact must be placed in the moonlight to charge. It can also be used as a sharp throwing weapon, and in the manga series she retains it even as Sailor Venus. In the live-action version, she has an identical item which does not double as a compact, called the Crescent Moon Cutter. The pen she uses to transform into Sailor V has an extendable antenna used to contact "Boss," and no matter what is written with it, it will always be right. She later uses the same pen to transform into Sailor Venus.
In the Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Venus' first primary attack is again Crescent Beam, this time without use of an item. She uses a similar power in the live-action series, without using an item or any special phrase, but nothing like it in the manga; instead, she uses Rolling Heart Vibration, which also makes a single appearance in the live-action series. Her first attack that is entirely consistent across the different adaptations is Venus Love-Me Chain, which in the manga and live-action series uses the chain wrapped around her waist. This remains her main attack for the rest of the second story arc, all of the third, and much of the fourth, and the chain itself is used in several variations, with the links taking on different shapes.
When she takes on her second Senshi form (Super Sailor Venus in the anime), she gains the ability to use Venus Love and Beauty Shock, which is her most powerful attack. In the manga she also gains the Venus Crystal, which is her Sailor Crystal and the source of all of her power. In the live-action series, she is given a tambourine-like weapon (the Sailor Star Tambo) by Artemis.