Rocket Girls (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, December 23, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Yukari was prepared to go to the far corners of the world to find her wayward father.
Turns out her journey will take her beyond any corners the Earth has to offer.
Writer: Kousuke Nojiri
Cover Artist: Katsuya Terada
Translation: Joseph Reeder
What They Say
Yukari Morita is a high school girl on a quest to find her missing father. While searching for him on the Solomon Islands, she receives the offer of a lifetime: she'll get the help she needs to find her father, and all she need do in return is become the world's youngest, lightest astronaut. Yukari and her teen friends, all petite, are the perfect crew and cargo for the Solomon Space Association's launches, or will be once they complete their rigorous - and sometimes dangerous - training.
The cover features an image looking up from ground level at Yukari Morita in her space suit with the plume of a rising rocket behind her cumulating to the bright light of a rocket engine in the sky above her. The cover is done almost exclusively in white blue and blue gray with only the subtitle “Rock it” in red and the yellow of the rocket engines providing a brighter pallet. The reverse features a large oval with a partial crescent moon shape in it with the copy enclosed in the circle. The translation is nicely done as the language flows very well in the body of the book.
Yukari Morita is a high school girl who thanks to her mother’s job has never wanted for money but has always had questions about her father. Her father walked out on her mother on their wedding night and vanished and Yukari has always wanted her father to return to her mother though her mother is indifferent to the idea and oddly detached. Having heard that there was a group of Japanese people in the Solomon Islands Yukari (with her mother’s blessing and financial support) she heads there to see if her father is among them.
Yukari arrives at the perfect time for the Solomon Space Agency as they are now facing a huge crunch for time to get a rocket airborne and their only current astronaut is both fed up with the program and decides to go AWOL when the program decides to switch rocket types and needs to conserve weight-which will be a serious problem for him. Luckily the program discovers Yukari during his escape and realizes that the lithe 16 year old Japanese girl is the solution to their weight issues. The director decides to use Yukari’s desire to find her father as a carrot to get her to start training for the program in return for their resources in finding him.
Yukari will discover that the world of an astronaut is filled with rigorous physical and mental tasks and that she will be pushed to her breaking point-and perhaps beyond- by these people chasing their dreams. Along the way she will discover more about her father, one of her half-sisters and even herself they she imagined. When the desire to see other people’s dreams fulfilled becomes a force that combines with her discovery that she wants to see things through what view might she find from the view of the cockpit. And what happens if a high school girl suddenly comes face to face with the life and death choices that come up in space-and how we she weigh her life in the balance.
Rocket Girls is a well paced read that while presenting some rather absurd conditions that no one would ever really contemplate demonstrates both a love for space and the efforts mankind puts into stepping into that final frontier. The author also doesn’t blanch at showing the space program to have perils associated with it and space itself but clearly he loves the idea and has fashioned a vehicle to help take the reader on this journey with him. He starts with a young woman in search of her father who finds something greater than herself that seems completely out of her league to the point she has never even contemplated it but learns from the passion of those around her that this dream is both bigger than her and something that she may be the only person big enough to carry for them at the same time. It is a light novel that often touches on a few heavy aspects but can also be a touch light in development at times as well but overall does a good job of setting the stage and shaping its characters and some of the motivations to make them feel plausible even if the situation isn’t quite.
The original novel of Rocket Girls was fairly faithfully adapted in the first part of the anime series so fans of that media presentation will discover that there is a whole lot in common here. It is a light novel that often touches on a few heavy aspects but can also be a touch light in development at times as well. The novel flows well and gives a nice look at Yukari and her half sister Matsuri travel through the world of astronaut training at a break neck pace in a fashion that while implausible reads like a love letter from the author to the concept of and behind manned space programs as he wants to show not just what astronauts go through but the work and effort the ground crew do as they pile their hopes and dreams on these cylinders they launch into space and those that are entrusted to carry the dreams to the stars with them.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Left to Right