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Astra Lost in Space, Vol. 1 Paperback – December 5, 2017
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About the Author
Kenta Shinohara started his manga career as an assistant to the legendary creator Hideaki Sorachi of Gin Tama. In 2006, he wrote and published a one-shot, Sket Dance, that would later begin serialization in 2007 in Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan. Sket Dance went on to win the 55th Shogakukan Manga Award for the shonen manga category and inspired an anime in 2011. Following the end of Sket Dance’s serialization in 2013, Shinohara designed the characters for an original card game anime titled Battle Spirits: Burning Soul before beginning work on Astra Lost in Space.
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Story: A group of students is going to 'camp' on a foreign planet when a ball of light suddenly appears, swallows them up, and transports them light years away from inhabited space. Stranded in vacuum, they find they are close to an abandoned spaceship floating nearby and get on. Now, they have to manage resources carefully and make a serious of jumps across several barely charted planets to get home. But the sphere is one danger: there's another on the ship with them.
This is a young-skewing survival story as the plucky Scooby kids band together, sometimes fight, do a lot of stupid and pointless things to cause drama, but come together in the end to survive their ordeal. We have plenty of mysteries: what will they encounter on each planet, will they share resources wisely enough to survive, and is someone on the ship actually hindering their efforts to get home?
Each character has a story and likely we will focus on each one as the story progresses. This first volume covers a bit about our two 'genki' lead characters as their 'goodness' provides the heart of the new crew. The last two chapters are about the prideful girl and her little adopted sister.
In all, there wasn't enough meat on this bone to keep me occupied. It was rather facile and clearly meant for a young audience - an easy-to-digest action/adventure piece. I'm looking for a bit more complexity and maturity these days. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
The artwork is very clean for a first installment of a series. Some of the alien landscapes are especially memorable, along with some unique animal designs. Also a nice plus is each character has a distinct design, which helps you keep track of who's who as try to remember their names.
Speaking of characters the protagonist Kanata Hoshijima, is overall a fairly standard shonen protagonist. But there is a few things that help him stand out from the crowd. One is his ability to remain calm in a tense situation. And secondly his most outstanding quality is his kindness, which is frequently goes out of his way to help even total strangers. As for the rest of the cast there is still so much to learn about them, but they don't seem to overlap each other in their personalities.
Overall it's a strong start and there is quite a bit of volumes still to come. I am looking forward to see how the cast develops over time. Astra Lost in Space is already an interesting universe. I can't wait to see how the series grows from here.
Serialized in Japan’s Shounen Jump Plus, Shinohara follows up Sket Dance with a title that might be better. This manga is being localized by Marlene First (Editor of Haikyu!, Seraph of The End), Annaliese Christman (Letterer of My Monster Secret, World Trigger) and Adrienne Beck (Food Wars, Ancient Magus Bride). They are working on a title that involves a group of nine young kids taking a trip to Planet MCPA, where they would be on their own for five days without adult supervision. After getting dropped off there however, an orb sucked them straight into space. After finding a ship, they learn they’re nowhere near home — they’re over 5,000 light years away. Now they have to figure out a way to get back before dying in space.
Easily the weakest aspect of this manga is the comedy. Shinohara was an assistant to Hideaki Sorachi, who created Gintama. Unfortunately, I felt, and this is based on the anime, Sket Dance lacked the comedic timing or good jokes. In reading Astra Lost in Space and his manga for the first time, I have to say it’s not great. The timing is either unnecessary or the dialogue just plain sucks. There are characters that contribute heavily to the standard comedy routines, and it doesn’t always work. If Astra Lost in Space wanted to be a flat-out comedy than this would be an avoidable title.
But everything else about this manga is fantastic. The characters shine at almost every point. You have the female lead in Aries, who is cute and can remember things once but is very ditzy; Kanata, a motivated dude with the shounen style heart and the shounen style brain (is dumb); Zack, super smart, super oblivious; and a host of other characters that would take me a while to explain that manage to work with each other awkwardly. That’s a good thing for this manga.
So what happens when you toss these different personalities into a situation like this? Well, you create a story of adventure and friendship. In this case, they are now extremely distant from their home planet. And while you know they’re not going to give up, actually providing reasons why not to give up — for example, Kanata was part of a similar situation as a kid — works well. Explaining how they can “hop” back towards their home, as Aries explained it, is drawn really well, and I found it a nice touch. The motivations are good, and propelled by an unfamiliar situation, the personalities stand out.
Then it comes down to the survival aspects, where they have to find things to eat and ways to sustain themselves. That is shown off very well, like discovering something new in an unfamiliar place, and that sense of wonder and awe. It’s not easy to capture it, but Shinohara does so extremely well. That’s why turning the page to find out what happens next is exciting.
What also excites me is what’s the truth behind the nine being sent off into space. It later is established that someone might have intentionally trashed the communications portion of the ship. Who could it be? Why would they do it? The possibilities are there for the story to go where it wants. It can turn into a space exploration trip or a mystery that will change how things proceed from here.
But the biggest thing is that it’s fun. No, it didn’t make me smile in laughter, but it made me smile because there’s a sense of passion and adventure that’s not always shown off well in manga. Astra Lost in Space executes that part to a tee, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of this when the next volume comes out.
Most recent customer reviews
I picked up this manga because I was looking for a good sci-fi manga and this one was...Read more