Monday, November 27, 2017

REVIEW: Astra Lost in Space Vol. 1

manga review for astra lost in space viz media shonen jump anime

I was first drawn to this new manga series from Viz Media by of its cover. Two teenagers floating in space. At first glance, it looked like Valerian to me. But the description of nine kids going to camp and getting lost in space reminded me of my other love: Digimon. A new manga that’s basically Digimon in space minus the actual Digimon? Alright, sign me up. Check out my full review after the jump.

Disclaimer: I received a copies of Astra Lost in Space Volume 1 courtesy of VIZ Media. Opinions are my own.

As ASTRA LOST IN SPACE opens, it’s the first day of Planet Camp, and Aries Spring couldn’t be more excited! Aries, along with eight other strangers, leave for Planet McPa for a weeklong excursion. Soon after they arrive, however, a mysterious orb appears and transports them into the depths of space, where they find an empty floating spaceship…

In other words: nine young kids go to camp for the summer and wind up living in a… real… space. Yeah, the Digimon comparisons are few and far between. However, what it does have in common with my favorite anime series of all time is still pretty good. Nine teenagers who barely know each other are thrust into an unfamiliar environment and must stick together to survive. Along the way, they learn about each other and their backstories reveal complex issues that adds an extra dramatic element to the story without descending into melodrama. There’s also a lot of talk about rationing food In short: not Digimon, but it’s kinda close and it’s awesome.

We are first introduced to Aries Spring, the cute pink haired girl on the cover. She initially appears to be the de facto protagonist and narrator of the series, but she is often eclipsed by the presence of Kenata Hosijima. Kenata displays classic shonen manga hero tropes, and is the self-proclaimed team captain with a tragic backstory. Kenata’s main motivation pertains to a middle school nature hike where he was unable to save his teacher’s life. Despite coming off as an blockheaded idiot, he springs into action risking his life to save his teammates and often displays knowledge of actual survival skills.

While Kenata is a blockhead, Aries is an airhead. She’s not a complete idiot. She seems to be one of the least useful members of the crew, but she still has some great moments. When the crew finds themselves over five thousand light years away, she draws on her childhood experiences to devises a plan to hop from one habitable planet to the next to collect food and survive the long trip back home.

The rest of the volume focuses on the relationship between Quitterie, Funicia, and Zack to a lesser extent. How this universe has characters named both Quitterie and Zack is beyond me. Quitterie and Funicia are Astra’s Matt and T.K., they’re introduced as sisters but are in fact not related. This is despite them both having that weird anime brown skin and blond-white hair thing going on. Quitterie was raised by the hired help in her mansion while her rich mother was at work all the time. This led to her developing a selfish personality over time, the only friend she’d managed to make growing up is Zack. Funicia is her newly adopted sister, a shakeup in Quitterie’s familial status quo that she isn’t quite a fan of. Quitterie runs off is rude to Funicia and proclaims that they’re not even related. Funicia, the youngest member of the Astra crew, of course just wants to be accepted by her new sister. Quitterie’s childhood friend Jack does quickly bond with the little girl, so that’s cute at least.

With nine main characters all introduced at once, Astra Lost in Space looks to be a fun series with lots of great characterization and a variety of adventure as they journey through the stars and attempt to survive while uncovering the mystery of how and why they got lost in space in the first place. Ever since high school, Hunter X Hunter has been the only manga series I’ve collected on a regular basis. But honestly, that may change. I really, really want to know what happens next for Aries, Kenata, and the rest of the Astra crew that has found themselves lost in space.

Astra Lost in Space Vol. 1 will be released on Dec. 5th by Viz Media. Pre-order your copy here. You can also already pre-order Vol. 2, which will be available on March 6, 2018.