S.S. ASTRO #1 - Mania.com

Anime/Manga Review

Maniac Grade: B+

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November 30, 2008
Release Date: August 31, 2008

© N/A

The best way to describe this title is "Azumanga Daioh for teachers." It's a four-panel comic strip that focuses on a group of female teachers at Asashio High School (ASTRO stands for Asashio Sogo Teachers ROom). Izumi Maki is the tomboyish PE teacher who would rather play video games and nap than teach. Yuko Nagumo is the same age and was a student with Izumi at Asashio before they went to college. Yuko wears kimonos, eats constantly and loves anything yaoi. Setsuna Arai is the school's nursing teacher and is also a former student at Asashio. She also loves her video games. She yearns for students to get seriously injured so she'll have something to do, and has a rather frightening personality. Her one weakness is that she used to date Izumi's older brother. He's also a part-time teacher at the school and continues to pursue Setsuna with varying degrees of success. Finally, there is Kaname Karasuma. She's a few years older than the other three, though still in her 20s. She favors skirted business suits, rectangular glasses and a pageboy haircut that suits her well. She also has a raging unrequited crush on Izumi which everyone seems to know about except Izumi.

A few other teachers are slowly added into the story as it unfolds, but it's mostly just about the four of them and how they interact with each other. It's a very funny book, but the lion's share of humor comes from Karasuma's girl-crush on Izumi. A lot of the jokes had me laughing out loud, but a few of them had me scratching my head and thinking I must have missed something. That's the danger of translating humor, I guess. I like the artstyle quite a bit. It can be a bit busy at times but I never feel lost, and the expressions on the character's faces is excellent. I'll admit I feel a little sad for Karasuma, since it's much funnier if she never gets what she wants (and she's so cute when she's blushing thinking about Izumi). It's also a bit odd that everyone else calls her "Karasuma-chan" using her family name, instead of "Kaname-chan". The students almost don't figure into the story. On the rare occasion when they do appear, they serve mostly as comedy-fodder, setting up jokes for the teachers' punchlines.

The presentation is quite nice. Sound effects are translated with small text next to the kana, there are 8 color pages at the beginning of the book, and several pages of translation notes at the back of the book. This is the first Yen Press book I've picked up, but I like what I've seen so far.

Click here to read the staff review by Mania.


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