While we here at Manga Village love all the new manga coming out each week, there’s over 20 years of manga releases that we love and want to recommend too! So, in each column, we will look at a genre, or creator, or even publisher to come up with the best titles that we want to recommend to you!
This month: Space Manga!
It’s the end of an era with the launch of the final Space Shuttle here in the US. But the dream to go out into space to explore and colonize will never die! So, here are some of our favorite manga about Space and space travel.
Justin: I think of two manga when I think of space. For me, the classic, “hard sf” series is Planetes. It is both about the real danger and mundane grind AND the wonder and hope that is space travel. You can still find the five-volume series (the last two volumes are v.4 parts 1 & 2, for some reason) if you dig a bit. The other manga is a bit rarer: Moto Hagio’s “They Were Eleven,” a story reprinted in the extremely rare Four Shojo Stories, but well worth it if you can get it through inter-library loan, or you’ve got $50 for a worn copy lying around.
Alex: And to continue on Justin’s Moto Hagio theme, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories cuts a wide swath and the title story is a sci-fi space story. Definitely worth the read, if you haven’t picked it up yet.
The series that immediately comes to mind when I think of space and manga is Vertical Inc.’s Twin Spica, a beautiful series that’s less about the trials of space travel (although there is quite a bit of that) and more about the people wanting to travel to space. It’s a thrilling piece of fiction, and I encourage anyone who likes the idea of manned space travel to pick it up and read it. It will be worth your time.
Connie: I’m not that into “hard sf,” honestly, so I had to do some digging for this one. I’d agree with the Moto Hagio recommendations, especially They Were Eleven (which I would recommend picking up in its original 4-issue monthly format, the back issues cost next to nothing). But the one space-themed manga I’ve read recently that I absolutely adored was Jyu-Oh-Sei, by Natsumi Itsuki. It’s only marginally space-themed, the early part of the story takes place on an elite space colony before the protagonists are deposited onto an inhospitable prison planet. But the social hierarchy themes of the story are fascinating, as is the insane prison planet setting, and Itsuki also writes fantastic characters.
Lori: I like my sci-fi in ALL flavors, from the science fantasy of Aria to the gritty, real world aspects of Planetes. But when I think of manga about space, there is one series that always comes to mind: Mobile Suit Gundam. Even though it hasn’t found the big audience in the US, this series, that has re-invented itself for every decade, not only brought realism to giant mechs, it treated space realistically as well. I really enjoyed the first Gundam Seed Astray series that Tokyopop released in the mid 00’s, which acts as a companion to the original Gundam Seed, and follows a crew of Junkers. And I’m looking forward to diving into Bandai’s release of the newest series Gundam 00, including their side story with 00F. But I would be remiss if I didn’t add my voice to love for Twin Spica. It is just a great series that’s very human, and also true to what it takes to be an astronaut.
Twin Spica is available from Vertical, Inc.
Planetes was released by Tokyopop and is out of print.
Four Shojo Stories, was released by Viz and is out of print.
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories is available from Fantagraphics.
Jyu-Oh-Sei was released by Tokyopop and is out of print
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Astray was released by Tokyopop and is out of print.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and 00F are available from Bandai Entertainment
Have a favorite space title that we didn’t mention? Leave a comment telling us about it!