Saturn Apartments Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The moving tale of a unique and interesting world.
Writer/Artist: Hisae Iwaoka
Translation: Matt Thorn
Adaptation: Matt Thorn
What They Say
Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the Ring System is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. Five years after his father disappeared and was assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father's occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu's job treats him to an outsider's view into the living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.
The cover here is a fantastic one, showing off the simple yet beautiful style of the book. It shows Mitsu dangling over an orange tinted Earth, while also holding the planet in his hand. The image is unique in that Mitsu is floating upside down, which can lead to a few times opening the book the wrong way, but looks great. The back cover contains a summary, as well as an image of Sachi and Miyuki, floating over the same orange tinted Earth.
As this is a Viz Signature book, it is granted a bigger size, which affords you an even better view of the great artwork present here. The paper quality is solid, and the text reads smoothly, but honorifics are unfortunately not maintained. Sound effects are translated in stylized text instead of being subtitled in their original form.
In a strange yet intriguing future, the whole of Earth has been declared a nature preserve, forcing humanity to live in a large ring structure of apartments. Mitsu is a young man who has grown up in these apartments, and is now ready to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a window washer. This may not sound like a very impressive job, but it means cleaning the outside of the ring, a dangerous task that claimed the life of his father. For his first job, Mitsu is to wash windows on the lower levels (the apartments are developed in three levels: lower, middle, and upper, and are divided by the equivalent social classes) for a couple getting married. He completes this task with his father’s old friend Jin, and learns about his dad in the process.
From there on, Mitsu meets a variety of different people and gets to know them. He meets Jin’s wife, and learns about Jin’s motivations, gets to know his father’s old acquaintances Tamachi and Makoto, does his best to meet the eccentric Mr. Tanuki’s request, meets the inspector Sacchi (as well as her cat, Miyuki), and attempts to satisfy a customer who keeps asking him and Jin to clean the same spot over and over again for some unknown reason.
This is a book that not only shows us beautiful artwork, but accompanies it with a unique and well thought out world, making this volume a treat to read. While the circumstances many of these characters find themselves in are depressing, there’s also a lot of beauty to this strange world that you can’t help but be impressed by. With a cast of interesting characters, an intriguing and original world, and a simple yet gorgeous art style, this series one to keep an eye on.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Saturn Apartments