Monday, October 29, 2012

Manga Monday: Can first love be anything but bittersweet?

Year 2 at Tokyo Space School begins, and Mr. Lion reflects on his first love, in Twin Spica Volume 5.

Note:  Twin Spica Volume 5 is, of course, the sequel to Twin Spica Volume 4. The review for Twin Spica Volume 1 is here, and the review of Twin Spica Volume 4 is here. Otherwise, read on!

Love is in the air this spring, and even Asumi, with her head in the clouds, isn't immune. When Kei confronts the boy Asumi met on their field trip, Asumi realizes that perhaps he has a reason for believing that rockets are just weapons. It turns out that hte boy, Kiriu, lives at an orphanage. The Lion incident was the only real disaster that would leave a boy his age orphaned, and a trip to the library shows that he lost both his parents and his brother that day. But he may have mixed feelings when it comes to Asumi's involvement with the space program, especially after some bullies smash the rocket keyring that he meant to return to her.

Asumi isn't the only one contemplating first loves. Mr. Lion takes a trip back to their hometown and wanders to his rocketship in the woods. There we're treated to a melancholy story of Mr. Lion's first love. There's a house near the woods that usually stands vacant, but this summer a girl can be seen in one of the upstairs windows. A young Mr. Lion slowly gets to know this girl, and she even helps him build his Orion II fort in the woods. All the excitement of the illicit trips out into the forest becomes too much for the sheltered, sickly girl and her father plans to send her to a sanatorium in Switzerland. Will Mr. Lion have a chance to see his friend one more time? And why does she look so much like Marika?

Beyond the young love, the second year of Space School stars out with a bang. What seems to be a simple endurance test in an escape module turns out to be a five-day training exercise. The students must make it to a specified point before the time is up, with only three days' supplies. It's been a long time since Asumi has been so alone. Will she overcome this challenge too?

Not simply a continuation of the traditional high school story, Twin Spica has developed facets that reflect the human condition. From overcoming obstacles that would halt most people, to the subtle conspiracies within space school, Twin Spica is a treat to read.

Highs: Poor Asumi's still by far the shortest in class.

Lows: I wish they'd finally give us something to go on in regards to Marika.

Verdict: As more background is revealed, we're left with even more questions than before.

Further Reading: Planetes, Ghost in the Shell

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