Space Manga

July 20, 2009

July 20, 1969:  The day mankind first walked on the moon.  Just as with the assassination of JFK, and 9-11, you can ask someone (old enough to remember) what they were doing when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and they could tell you.  With the 40th Anniversary of this event coming up, I thought I would look at some manga that takes a more realistic approach to mankind’s reach into space.

Planetes


Published by Tokyopop in 2007, this is a character driven series.  It follows the lives of the crew of the DS-12 Toybox of the Debris Section of Technora Corporation.  It is 2075 and man has a mining base on the Moon, is exploring Mars, and is preparing to head out to Jupiter.  The job of the Debris Section is to collect space debris in the orbits around Earth and the Moon to keep it from damaging satellites, space stations and space ships.  Each member of the crew has a reason to be there, and all of their stories are explored.  The depiction of working in space is very realistic, with the crew members having to use bulky EVA suits while out in space, and the health issues that astronauts have to deal with such as brittle bones and mental illness from isolation in the vacuum of space.  This is an excellent story, not just for the realism but also for the human drama it portrays.  If you want to know what it might be like to live and work in space, this is the title to read.

Earthlight

This is a Tokyopop OEL title that reads left to right.  Set in 2068, an internation colony has been set up on the Moon, called Earthlight.  Life is hard for the people who live there, both adults and kids.  The adults are always working and don’t have time for the kids, leaving them on their own.  After an accident claims the lives of 5 adults and 3 kids, the U.N. sends a new administrator to oversee Earthlight as well as set up the first organized school on the colony.  In this series, we see the difficulties of building and running a colony in space, where safety protocols are of the up most importance, and balancing between work and family life can seem impossible.  Only two of the planned three volumes have come out, and with Tokyopop’s problems, there’s little hope of the third ever seeing the light of day.  But, you can read the first three chapters of the first volume and the first chapter of the second volume on Tokyopop’s website.

2001 Nights


This is an old Viz title, so you won’t find it on their website, though Amazon still his books available.  It was first published in Japan in 1984, and was licensed for US distribution in 1996.  This title is a collection of short stories that share the same time line and spans several hundred years.  The stories are hard science fiction, meaning they use realistic concepts for their treatment of science and space travel.  The science in the stories build on each other, just as in real life, and while not always, are often plausible.  It also pays homage to several science fiction movies and novels.

Moonlight Mile


This title is not available in the US, though the first anime series is.  It’s about two mountain climbers, Gorou Saruwatari and Lostman, who decide they will become astronauts.  They each chose different routes to join a NASA program to obtain a new energy source on the Moon.  The amount of work these two men put into their goal as well as competing with each other is just riveting.  I’ve only seen the first part of the anime, but it had not only excellent drama, but also a very realistic approach to working in space.  One episode is spent working out the physics to correctly stop some equipment from hitting a space station.  The manga is currently up to 16 volumes in Japan, and would make a great title for Viz’s Signature line. *hint* *hint*  It has political drama as well as great science.

Those are all the hard science titles I could find in English (in some form).  If you know of any other manga that fit this criteria, please leave a comment and let me know about them.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • Wraith says:

    It’s not officially available in english, but if you’re looking for space related manga, don’t miss Twin Spica (Futatsu no Spica). It’s a near-future story focusing on Japan’s manned space program, which has had a major disaster when their first manned rocket exploded and crashed into a populated area.

    The story’s main focus is on Asumi Kamogawa, who was a baby at the time of the rocket crash. She gets inspired to become an astronaut, and most of the story follows her at what’s basically Tokyo Space Academy. The school is essentially a nation-wide magnet school that focuses on space-related courses, from medicine to engineering to the newly created astronaut training course, which is naturally what Asumi applies for.

    The series also had a 20 episode anime, and a 7 episode live action series is currently airing in Japan (with JAXA and NASA involvement), but the manga is the best incarnation of the story. The manga itself is currently at 15 volumes, with the final volume to be out later this year.

    Definitely one of the top manga titles I want to see licensed, following only Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.

  • Wraith says:

    I don’t know if you’re still reading these comments, but I wanted to point out that Twin Spica has been licensed:
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-09-25/vertical-adds-twin-spica-chi-sweet-home-needles-manga

    You’ll probably have to wait until next summer, but it will be coming out in English.

  • Yeah, I saved Twin Spica for my astronomy manga post. It was very happy to see not just that it was licensed, but was picked up by Vertical, who will do right by it!

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