As a 25 year old, and a voracious reader of manga, I find that most manga today is aimed at teenagers and kids, so it is always a pleasant surprise to find a story aimed at someone my age. Planetes (that's the correct spelling)reminds me of the stories of Arthur C. Clarke - this is intelligent science fiction with a humanistic bend, combining hard science, personal stories of loss and yearning, and the wonder at the vastness of the cosmos. Don't get the impression that it is all bleak though - the author has a good sence of humor and some stories are actually quite funny, but as with Cowboy Bebop, the humor is mixed with pathos. Planetes follows Hachimaki, who along with co-workers Yuri and Fee works as a space "garbage man", getting rid of dead sattelites, discarded fuel tanks and other junk that clutters earth orbit. It does not have an overarching plot but instead consists of seperate stories about the life and adventures of all 3 of them (although Hachimaki is the main hero). This book is very strongly recommended - I read it yesterday in one sitting, and I still can't stop thinking about it. I just hope that it sells well, so that Tokyopop can bring more stories like this over here.
This book is amazing for a number of reasons. First, it is unique among space manga in being rather realistic: The physics works, for the most part, and the technology and social arrangements seem to stem logically from the current situation.But on the other hand, this book avoids the pitfall that so much hard sci-fi falls prey to: It doesn't spend all its time describing the technology and such to the detrement of characters and plot. In fact, the realism of the science and the technology is matched and even maybe exceeded by the realism of the characters. Yukimura's amazing ability to balance scientific realism with humanistic realism brings to mind Heinlein or Clarke, and definitely earns the name "graphic novel" in a way that manga does not always achieve.
First off, this is my first Manga. I used to be a comic book reader but I was still apprehensive. I have, however, watched various anime series and movies.
What a wonderful find this series is for me. This series is like an Arthur C. Clark comic. Space is the main character and how it affects the story's main characters is the main common thread. The characters are well developed and the environments and situations all feel plausible and real. The chapters are more like episodes or vignettes than a continuous series. Historical references to space flight innovations are often used as well. Give this a shot if you are someone interested in space and human space flight.
Having just read the first and second volumes of the series I find myself truly...awed. This manga is truly stunning with it's developed characters, ideas, humor, drawings and overall concept. I have never really contemplated what the emotional side of space is until I read this. This series will move you and make you think of what space will really be like when humans extend even farther into the void. I am 13 year who as most people agree, is very mature for his age and has a remarkable patience. This is not a book for those who only like fast-paced action as seen in other manga. However, if you enjoy seriousiness and have a good patience then this is a great manga series for you.
I am not much of a comic book reader, but this book is amazing. This is possibly the best science fiction I have read in a long time. I got interested in this through the animation of this series, although the manga appears to be better in all respects so far.If you are a fan of space, of realistic sci-fi, then run, do not walk to buy this book.
And this short review is more for the whole 5-manga series and not just for the first volume, but if you are thinking of geting the first one, you might want to know what you are in for.
I agree with what several of the others have said in Planetes' favor. The characters are interesting, the "realistic sci-fi" aspect is quite good, and the overall direction or plot pull the reader in.
This lasts through the first two or three books. The last two seemed to me at least to lose the pulse of the earlier volumes. Maybe it is the case that all manga/anime must devolve into "emo," but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I appreciated the psychological aspects to the storytelling, and their importance to the tale's overall theme...but, well, Planetes emphasized this to excess. What began as a complicated human story ended up as a facile lesson. I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone, so I won't disclose any more of the conclusion (if it could be called that).
Great first book, great 2nd, and maybe 3rd...weaker 4th and a disappointing 5th (or 4.part 2...as it is called)