Direction: Right to Left
By: Makoto Yukimura
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Genre: Shounen, Slice of Life, sci-fi
SPACE IS MESSY. SOMEONE’S GOT TO CLEAN IT UP!
In the 2070s, increased interplanetary travel has led to crisis-level amounts of dangerous space debris, and someone has to clean it up. Planetes follows the space-garbage crew of aspiring explorer Hachimaki, mourning Yuri, and secretive Fee, collected in two omnibus editions, printed from the original files and complete with bonus color pages!
This was the second manga I picked up from Waterstones the other day, and one I actually had been meaning to pick up for a while.
As a huge fan of the anime I was aware of what the anime was going to be like, and thus had high expectations. This series really has really lived up to them!
Yukimura’s art style is perfect for the setting, and frankly at times it reminds me of art from the Ghost in the Shell series. Over the course the volume I really grew to appreciate the art style.
This was also true of the character designs, initially I wasn’t too keen on them. To me something was always off with them, however they did grow on me. And while I wouldn’t call it great art, they weren’t to bad. The bit I always found frustrating was that some of the characters had amazing designs, such as Nono, I really liked her design.
What I will say however is that the personalities that Yukimura developed were amazing, and are fleshed out to a great deal right from the start. All of them have a solid personality that shines through throughout the story.
Which is essential, since this is a very heavy character story, driven by the developments of the characters and their interactions.
The story follows a team of the space debris collectors, space bin men essentially, as they go about their daily lives. Dealing with everything from space sickness to terrorists, to all out war.
I have to admit that in the manga version at least, I did not like the main character, Hachi. I find his personality to be a bit too warped, and difficult to get into. Frankly by the mid point of the volume it’s almost like he’s become the villain. However I do love that we get to see and even feel his inner turmoil as he tries to push forward to join a special mission to Jupiter.
Especially towards the end of the volume as he starts to experience ‘love’, in the form of Tanabe, a new recruit who seems to be stuck in the 70’s hippy mode Yukimura is very good at drawing the emotions of the characters, which helps draw the reader in.
Yuri was another character I really got to like, and as his story starts to come out it’s hard not to feel for the guy, his loss of loved ones, his loss of purpose. Yukimura brings all of these out really well in the manga, but not perfectly sadly.
Fee is the leader of the group, and perhaps both the strongest and weakest of the personalities of the ship. While I liked her initially I found her a little flat after a while. However she does seem to grow more over the course of the volume, and I got some vibes that in the next volume she’s going to be really interesting.
One of the areas this series excels is it’s science, it’s won awards for it’s realism and how close it would be to real life. And I have to admit it really does feel ‘real’ at times.
Sadly the area Yukimura fails, IMO, is his pacing. Reading through this volume at time left me a little disorientated because of the time skips. It’s very annoying to go two or six months with a page turn, especially when the page before was a bit of a cliffhanger. This is especially true of scenes that are emotional, they have some amazing build up and you’re expecting a resolution, only on the next page a time slip has happened.
Everything you were hoping to see resolved is just brushed off with no real explanation.
I did find this a little disorientating which led to some immersion breaking moments. Whether this was down to Yukimura not being sure how to handle things properly (this was his first piece of work after all) or page counts, or something else, I honestly don’t know. But it was a bit of an issue for me, and one that will almost likely carry over to the next volume.
Moving onto the quality of the release, WOW.
This is another Tokyopop rescue and frankly they’ve done a superb job with this release. It’s right up there being one of the best quality releases I’ve ever seen.
It’s an over size release, but not as big as some of their earlier reprints, small enough to be held easily; but large enough to give the art space to breath.
What’s more it’s littered with some glorious full colour pages, printed on high quality pages. Frankly I wish all publishers used this paper for their releases. I’d not have to worry about my books falling to pieces after a few years!
Now sure if they did a retranslation or not, since I’ve not read the original TP release. However here we have a great translation that’s easy enough to read and follow. What’s more it doesn’t feel ‘over westernised’ which is always a good thing!
All told this is a great series, well worth it’s £15 asking price. Great art, good story, and interesting characters. What’s more it’s only a few days till the next and final volume is out! So you won’t have to wait long to finish this awesome series.
Now all we need is for them to pick up Moonlight Mile!!