Planetes Vol. #04A -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59532-208-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Planetes Vol. #04A

By Jarred Pine     October 08, 2005
Release Date: November 01, 2004

Planetes Vol.#04A

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

What They Say
An attack on the U.S. in orbital space may trigger a series of events that will bring the world to the brink of another war--with space as the battleground. The amount of debris created by such a conflict could spell the end for the careers on the DS-12. Did someone say, 'anti-war activism'?

The Review
As space starts to become a war zone, Fee awakens that wolf inside of her that will put her right on the frontlines of the battle, fighting to stop this war from creating the feared Kessler Syndrome.

The cover looks quite fantastic with sharp, bright colors on the matte finish. What is a little odd is that while the original illustration from the Japanese tankubon was used, the scene depicted does not happen until the next volume due to TOKYOPOP splitting this final volume into two releases. However, the 30+ pages of translated supplemental material at the back of the book is very much appreciated, and something that the hard sci-fi fans will definitely enjoy.

The print reproduction is a little rough at the beginning, with a few smudges on the pages. Overall, I thought the tones were also a little on the dark side, more so in the first chapter. Included in this first printing are 12 color pages that look very nice on thick pages.

Yukimura’s artwork continues to be quite solid. Character designs are very strong with a realistic style. I find myself amazed at times at just how real the facial expressions and eyes feel to me. The panels are also rich with exquisite detail and background artwork. I also got a big kick out of the visual gags with the KFC inspired Colonel Sanders and the pompadour sporting “alien”.

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. There are subbed editor’s notes and signs in the margins.

The translation continues to be quite solid, with no errors or problems that were apparent in earlier volumes. I especially enjoyed how the Baron’s dialogue was handled in the first chapter, as though the language he was speaking was not his native one.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The Von Braun may be on its way to Jupiter, but life must go on as normal as everyone continues to do deal with mankind pushing their boundaries in space. It has been two years since the Von Braun accident on the Lunar surface, but Werner Locksmith still has to deal with anger from the victims’ families as well as his own personal demons. Fee has become quite complacent and apathetic as a pilot of the DS-12, taking orders without asking questions no matter what the debris might be. When a US transport ship is attacked by another nation’s orbital mine, Fee finds herself on the borders of a budding space war that will undoubtedly created the ill-fated Kessler Syndrome. Fee now is left with a choice to either ignore those events outside of her control, or awaken that wolf inside of her and fight back for a cause that she believes in.

While the major driving plot here is the attack on the US transport ship and the impending war, it all takes a backseat to the characters. Yukimura sticks with exploring his characters in a world that still has its problems even with these advances in space exploration. Fee is without a doubt my favorite character in this title, so having almost an entire volume dedicated to her is a big treat for me. Through a series of flashbacks from her childhood and present day scenes with her husband and 9-year old child back on Earth, we learn quite a lot about Fee. She definitely grew up as the outspoken wild child, someone more inline with Tanabe. However, as of late she has lost her bite, becoming another cog in the wheel in the debris collection business. Her husband is a stay-at-home dad that is a bit of a pushover, especially when it comes to their son Albert, who is constantly bringing home stray dogs to care for without training them properly. Their barking is keeping the neighbors up all through the night. After placing some harsh training collars on the dogs to stop their barking, Fee receives a kick in the ass (literally) from her son that begins to awaken that wolf inside of her.

After rediscovering that youthful vigor, Fee takes the DS-12 into restricted air space to try and stop the war from happening. There is going to be a lot of debris created from all exploding orbital mines, and it is the job of the debris collector to clean things up. This is her reasoning for breaking the law and fighting against this declaration of war. While her actions on the surface may seem selfish, Fee is actually fighting for her family, especially her son Albert. She also wants to be, as a mother, a role-model for her son, someone who will fight for what they believe in once the chips are down.

I also get a real kick out of Yukimura’s quirky sense of humor. The opening chapter features a pompadour sporting, self-proclaimed alien called the Baron, who is another debris collector. The chapter is a nice humorous break in the action that just reminds us all that even though mankind is in space, people are still just normal, average (and sometimes a bit odd) people. I also lost it when Colonel Sanders appeared, looking like the trademarked picture of KFC. Yukimura just does a great job of interjecting humor amongst all the solid character development and dramatic storylines.

Yukimura continues to do a solid job of balancing his realistic hard sci-fi with strong character development, creating characters that feel so life-like and are very easy to connect with despite being almost 80 years into the future. If you are a big Fee fan like myself, you will definitely enjoy this volume as it begins to really explore her character, both in the past and present.

TOKYOPOP has split up the 4th volume of the original release into two parts, with this being the first. While there is only 160 pages of story, TOKYOPOP goes above and beyond with getting us a lot of the supplemental information that was released in Japan, with 30+ pages of that translated material appearing here. A solid release for one of the better titles available in English.


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