Planetes Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 268
  • ISBN: 1-59182-509-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Planetes Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     October 04, 2005
Release Date: January 01, 2004

Planetes Vol.#02

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

What They Say
Trained as an elite pilot, Hachimaki Hoshino's life collecting space debris in orbit around Earth doesn't satisfy the engine of his ambition. So when the Earth Development Community begins to look for a crew to man Welnar Rocksmith's new Mars mission, which involves traveling to the red planet on the brand new space ship Brown Fawn in search of a specific breed of plant life. His father, Goro Hoshino, is a legendary astronaut and has already been selected as the mission commander. But getting selected will mean proving the wealth of his knowledge in space, demonstrating his capacity for team work, and embracing love and friendship as guiding principles for his life.

The Review
Yukimura’s hard sci-fi manga continues to be one of the more introspective and mentally engaging stories I have ever read. Already he has proven that this title is a must on all manga readers’ shelves.

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 better than the previous volume, looking really crisp with no noticeable tone distortions. One extra is a couple pages of a 4 panel comic inserted in the book that is quite humorous. At the back of the book is a page explaining the history of two of the real life people mentioned: Kenji Miyazawa and Yuri Gagarin.

If feels as though Yukimura hit his stride with this volume. The artwork is just solid, lots of detail and strong lines with a great use of tones. Backgrounds are extremely well done, as you would expect with a hard sci-fi title. There are also some action scenes in this volume which are very well illustrated and feature strong panel direction.

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 good, although there were a few issues that I had. Once again a year was wrong, and there is one panel where Hachimaki refers to cans of beer as “bottles”. There is also a poem midway through on a chapter page that was not translated. Despite these issues, they are some great choices made as well. Tanabe uses the honorific “senpai” when referring to Hachimaki, which is very important. I also like how Leonov’s dialogue was handled with broken English. The dialogue is also filled with a lot of hard sci-fi terminology, which comes through very clear.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
It is now November 2075, and Hachimaki has finally begun to take his dream of owning a spaceship seriously, although perhaps a bit too much. He has begun rigorous training in preparation for applying to become a member of the Jupiter Mission, a 7 year round-trip mission to begin mining for new fuel reserves. His father, Goro Hoshino, has already accepted a position of one of the senior crew. In preparation for his departure, a new recruit has been brought into the Toy Box for training to replace Hachimaki’s position, Ai Tanabe.

What Yukimura does so well in this volume is taking the concept of dreams and presenting it in a very realistic fashion as it applies to exploring the new frontier. The dreamers who open new pathways and advance mankind are completely selfish. They have deluded themselves enough so that no dream is too big and those who get crushed under the dream are just kindling to keep it alive. The concept of a selfish dream is ever present in Werner Locksmith, the leader of the Jupiter Von Braun project. When a lab experiment on the new engine tragically explodes on the moon surface, killing hundreds of workers, he offers sympathies and compensation to the victims’ families. However, he continues to push the project forward, despite the media adversity and the fact that it is not a popular choice amongst the populace. I really liked this approach by Yukimura, making this all feel much more realistic than the more heroic and noble concept of dreamers. It is the selfish dreamers that make progress.

As the Von Braun project pushes on, Hachimaki becomes more and more detached from humanity, only concerned with getting himself on that ship and headed towards Jupiter. He too becomes a selfish dreamer, a change from the unsure rookie in the first volume. With the introduction of Tanabe, we get the opposite end of the spectrum. Tanabe preaches about love and humanity, that there is no use to explore space if it is going to be done alone. Her idealistic naiveté is actually a welcomed change from many other female characters that are more common in manga. In fact, Fee and Tanabe both get my vote as two of the better female characters in all of manga. You may not like them or disagree with their opinions, but they are both strong, independent, and caring. As Hachimaki begins to swallow up his anger, pain, and loneliness, it is Tanabe that is the thorn in his side, always offering in-your-face reminders about love and the bonds between people.

There are a lot of great variety of moments in this volume, but I will briefly mention a couple of my favorites. The first one occurs towards the end of the two-part story surrounding the Space Defense League attacks on the Von Braun project. In the midst of all the action and gunfire, Hachimaki reaches a crossroads where he will either continue to become dead inside from his self-inflicted isolation, or he will begin to understand the importance of humanity and being with others. I don’t want to spoil the moment, but the “help” that Hachimaki receives during this moment of intense drama always has me cheering and is probably my favorite moment in the entire series.

My other favorite moment in this volume is Hachimaki visiting his family back on Earth. Hachimaki has become so consumed with his dream that he cannot fathom what happens when space is taken away from him. While sitting on the back porch, eating some watermelon under stars with his mother, she reminds him of something that is very important. All great astronauts come back home. Hachimaki doesn’t realize the gravity of that statement, but this moment, along with the one mentioned above, will start a great war of emotions and thoughts inside of his head.

Makoto Yukimura delivers quite an emotional and thoughtful story in this volume, approaching the concept of dreams in a way that tells both sides of the coin in a realistic fashion. The development of Hachimaki from beginning to end in this volume is quite a treat. The introduction of the idealistic Tanabe for Hachimaki to butt heads with provides some good drama and humor, but more importantly she becomes his catalyst and last thread connected to humanity.

I have read this volume quite a bit now, and each time I find something new to chew on and explore. That is what is so great about this story and the multi-dimensional characters that Yukimura has created. It’s very introspective, allowing for the reader to examine themselves as they are in this world through the eyes of these debris collectors. Highly Recommended.


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jnager 3/13/2012 1:35:53 PM

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