By Kou Yaginuma, released in English Vertical Inc.
Asumi Kamogawa’s past and future in Twin Spica volume 1 is tied to the stars. She dreams of going to space and takes the exam for Tokyo’s space school behind here fathers back. But the tragedy of her past is also tied into space. Both are explored here in an excellent opening volume of the manga that combines hard sci-fi with whimsical fantasy and a bitter sweet look at the past.
For this manga Kou Yaginuma goes with a cartoonish look, which is jarring at first but fits the tone of the story greatly. It gives the opening story a dreamy, fairy tale look as our heroine is talking about her exam with what appears to be her imaginary friend Mr. Lion. And yet when we learn of the first failure of the Japanese space program the art style holds up and adds to the drama and heart break of the series.
It continues when we follow Asumi to space school. She is placed with 2 strangers, Kei Oumi and Marika Ukita, and they are forced to take a 7 day isolation test by working together to create a domino exhibit. In between the three of them working together flash back to more of Asumi’s past and the fate of her mother.
It can be hard to mix different genres together, but Yaginuma does to great effect in the second half of the volume. The flashbacks to Asumi’s past tug at your heart but also fill you with hope. And the test in the room is the perfect mix of human drama as Asumi and Kei butt heads with Marika yet the three of them rise to the challenge and finish the test. It’s a typical genre trope, but it works to great effect and the flashbacks give it added weight and drama. And it sets up the next volume nicely by making us want to read more about the girls in space school.
Kou Yaginuma has done a great job setting up his world in this volume. By mixing in the spiritual, almost fantasy like elements at the end with the sci-fi edge gives the series a unique feeling. The pacing is perfect and the characters are endearing and draw your interest easily. And you really want to read more after finishing the 1st volume, which is the sign of any good manga.
Vertical once again picked another top notch manga to bring over, and their translation is top notch. It read very smoothly in English and never drags. It’s a great read for all ages and is one of the better sci fi manga series being published in English. It is a series any manga or sci-fi fan needs to check out.