Planetes Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 1-59182-262-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Planetes Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     October 02, 2005
Release Date: September 30, 2003

Planetes Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Makoto Yukimura
Translated by:Yuki Nakamura
Adapted by:

What They Say
In the 2070's, mankind has established a mining base on the moon and dispatched men to explore Mars. The first manned mission to Jupiter is also in progress. As a result of this interplanetary activity, space debris is increasing and its collection has become a new profession.

In the 1st volume of Makoto Yukimura's Planetes, we meet Yuri, Hachimaki, and Fee. Hachimaki's dream is to buy his own spaceship. He thinks he can earn money quickly by joining the crew of the first expedition to Jupiter. Yuri lost his wife in a space travel accident, and became a debris collector out of a desperate desire to discover some remembrance of her. Fee takes great pride in her profession and works very hard, having left behind her husband and young son on earth.

In a dark and cruel universe, each of these space junkers grapples with his or her own personal problems.

The Review
The introductory volume of Makoto Yukimura’s highly-acclaimed hard sci-fi story about a team of debris collectors and their big dreams in outer space. This is the original story from which the anime was adapted.

The cover uses the same illustration from the Japanese tankubon, which looks amazing on the matte finish. There are 4 color pages at the beginning of the book, printed on thick paper, that look really nice. The print reproduction is good, although a few times I felt the tones were too dark or the grey solids were a little rough looking. At the back of the book is a page with history notes about four scientists that were mentioned in this volume: Tsiolkovsky, Goddard, Oberth, and von Braun.

Yukimura’s character designs are more realistic than most manga. Line work is really soft, with great facial expression work and etching to enhance facial features. The detail put into the spaceships, moon bases, equipment, etc is incredible. There’s a lot of great background artwork that is essential to getting a feel for this futuristic world.

The one oddity of this first volume is that it seems at though Yukimura was still trying to find his way with the art early on. Character designs change a bit after the first couple chapters, and overall the work just tightens up as the volume goes on.

SFX are not translated. I appreciate not touching the great artwork, but I did find myself needing to know the SFX on a couple of occasions, so a glossary would have been appreciated. The translation is done quite well, especially when you consider all the hard sci-fi terms that are in the book. It reads very clearly and the dialogue all feels quite appropriate. I did notice one translation problem where the year was written as ‘2070’ when it should have read ‘2075’.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
By the year 2070, mankind has already begun to conquer the frontiers of space. The lunar surface has been mined for a new energy reserve, Helium 3, which now powers 70% of the Earth’s electricity as well as the new spaceships. Moon bases serve as mining depots, hospitals, and an intermediary for astronauts between Earth and wherever they may be traveling. As mankind pushes forward through space, left behind is a trail of debris that is deadly to all those who travel the stars. Even the smallest bolt or piece of metal orbiting the Earth at 8km per second can puncture a whole in the side of a spaceship, creating a disaster with more and more debris in orbit. Debris collectors work around the clock, spending months at a time in space, keeping the skies safe while also holding onto dreams of their own. This is the setting for Makoto Yukimura’s hard sci-fi title about dreams and humanity on this new frontier.

Hachirota Hoshino, called Hachimaki by his crew because of the headband he wears, is a 23-year old debris collector with big dreams of one day owning his own spaceship. Joining him on the cargo ship Toy Box are Fee, the pilot who is prone to violent nicotine withdrawals, and Yuri, a quiet collector whose wife was killed by floating debris. In this first volume, this realistic future world is shown to the reader through the eyes of this team of debris collectors, and it’s not just the setting, but also the personalities and mindsets of those who are living in the vastness of space. Yukimura keeps the story progressing throughout each chapter, but it takes a more non-linear approach as though we are peeking in on the lives of your everyday blue-collar trash men.

The majority of this first volume explores Hachimaki, a hard worker with a sarcastic attitude with grand dreams of owning his own spaceship. However, it seems that Hachimaki does not quite yet believe that he can achieve this dream, holding himself back out of fear. It is only after a life changing experience while standing in front of the future generation of spaceship engines, the Tandem Miller, that Hachimaki begins to get the motivation to see his dream come true.

My absolute favorite chapter in this volume is “A Cigarette Under Starlight”, a story that all nicotine or even caffeine addicts will get a kick out of. The designated smoking lounges on the moon bases have been the sites of numerous terrorists attacks by the Self Defense Fighters, a group determined to stop mankind’s destruction of space through mining of resources. After being out in orbit for a month, the one thing that Fee wants most is a cig, but her attempts to cool her raging withdrawals keep getting blocked by each attack. She even tries to sneak a smoke in the bathroom, which sets off the sprinkler system leaving her soaking wet. Unable to get her fix, Fee is sent back into orbit where they learn about the SDF’s plans to attack a space station by crashing an abandoned satellite into it, creating what is called the Kessler Syndrome. A crash of this magnitude in space will just create a seemingly infinite amount of debris, leaving the orbit impossible to traverse. I don’t want to ruin the exciting conclusion to the story, but suffice to say that Fee lets loose her frustrations with quite a bang.

With this debut volume, Makoto Yukimura sets up a plausible futuristic world where mankind has begun it’s quest to conquer space. It’s a hard sci-fi tale that follows a team of debris collectors doing their everyday, blue-collar jobs of cleaning up space to make it save for travel. Yukimura has created a set of characters in a setting almost 100 years in the future that feels quite realistic, which is quite an accomplishment.

While there is a forward progression of the story, each chapter feels more like a vignette that is meant to introduce us to how space exploration works and each of the three debris collectors. Some chapters are action packed and humorous, while others are introspective and emotional. It may be hard to get a sense of where the story is going by volume’s end, but this first volume does an excellent job of getting the reader hooked on the characters and the world. With this wonderful setup, it will be no surprise when the next volume immediately finds itself in your hands. Highly Recommended.


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