noted that, for a guy that says he doesn't like manga much,
I sure do recommend enough of it. And it is true; manga isn't
my favorite comic style and I usually find most of manga to
be pointless power fantasies about 13 year-olds with D-cups
killing demons and robots. But there are those manga titles
that are expert examples of the fusion of words and pictures,
just as there are great books and crap books in the US comics
intelligence in the books I read. I want plot depth, emotive
characters, or at least a good hook or two to keep my interest
on the material. In manga like Lone
Wolf & Cub and Ranma
½, you get some if not all of these things,
and that makes a good comic. Manga like FLCL, Sailor Moon,
and Card Captor Sakura are examples of craptacularness.
is a manga from column A.
Yukimura creates a future not far from our own, in which the
colonization of space is a certainty. Orbital space stations
dot the sky, the moon boasts several cities, and there are
plans to launch more missions out into the rest of the solar
system. Mankind has finally become a space-faring society,
and no one could be happier about that than Hachimaki.
is an orbital garbage man, or "debris-man," with
dreams of owning his own ship one day. Seems that every time
humanity launches out into the great beyond, junk gets stuck
in the atmosphere, posing imminent threats to future space
launches. Hachimaki and his co-workers Fee and Yuri split
their time between clearing away dead satellites and keeping
each other from going insane out there in the blackness.
blown away at the delicate character work in the comic. I've
never encountered a manga that paid so much attention to the
way its characters act toward one another. There is a supreme
sense of camaraderie, compassion, and trust between the three
characters, and it's never verbalized in any particular way.
Yukimura has managed to create the feeling of brotherhood
without beating the reader over the head with the concept.
It is in the scenes; where Hachi risks his life to save Yuri's
or when Yuri attempts to comfort Fee after a mistake that
almost killed one of her crew. Every one of these scenes is
expert in demonstrating the bond between these characters.
Yukimura creates complete characters, another surprise to
be found in a manga. Even manga that I've liked haven't had
the depth of characterization Planetes does. The reader
is given insight to each character, but slowly and gradually.
Yuri has some pain in his past that we get to see him try
and reconcile throughout the story, and while some writers
might make the character a morose individual trapped in his
own grief, Yukimura makes Yuri the most positive of the crew.
Yuri feels pain but doesn't hate the life he has that allows
him to experience pain. It is a refreshing way to write a
the rock of the group, the leader. She's always there with
the right piece of advice or the right punch to the solar
plexus to straighten someone out. It's also hilarious when
Yukimura throws in a dichotomous trait in Fee as her deadly
serious addiction to cigarettes shows up later in the volume.
The levels she goes to, to have a cigarette, are somewhat
over the top, but almost understandable considering the limited
ability of the populace to smoke in space. The entire situation
is a great exercise in comedy, and helps to break up the heavier
themes that are present in the first part of the book.
himself is a great character that could have become a typical
"young kid whose enthusiasm outweighs his skill"
kind of archetype, but Hachi really is good at his job. All
three characters are, and it's a testament to Yukimura's writing
ability that he can write three competent and skilled characters
and still create humor around them. Hachi is the perfect balance
of realism and idealism: he can understand that the work he
does is important and that it's dangerous, but he still dreams
of owning his own ship someday. In the second story, where
we see Hachi questioning what it means to be an astronaut
in the world he lives in. Yukimura paints the astronaut as
the new frontiersman, helping to create a new world and seeing
sights so spectacular you would never want to leave the black
expanses dusted with stars. It's a beautiful description of
something that the world seems to have forgotten since the
space race ended: that the universe is out there, waiting
of his story also gains points for Yukimura. It's a small
idea "space garbage man" but it's a practical concern
that makes sense. Yukimura did his research on the effects
of space travel on the human body, and the dangers that floating
clouds of debris can represent, and he did some very interesting
theorizing about what it might mean to be born in a low gravity
field. It's all in the details.
even talked about the artwork yet. It's gorgeous pure and
simple. The style of manga that Yukimura is using is detailed
when it comes to the structures and space scenes, and he uses
the negative effects that space creates to great advantage
in the book. Space walks are beautiful in this comic. The
character work is almost American in style, kind of a cross
between Daniel Clowes (minus the grotesque imagery) and Carla
Speed-McNeil, but still featuring the conventions of manga
art. Yukimura is a great find.
book. Besides the story, Yukimura also gives the reader a
brief history of modern rocket science history. Be warned,
the book is put out by TokyoPop, and is thus printed in the
right-to-left Japanese way, so your comic reading skills will
be tested. It's only $9.99. It's not only good manga, it's