Planetes Vol. #04B -

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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: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59532-467-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Planetes Vol. #04B

By Jarred Pine     October 08, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2005

Planetes Vol.#04B

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

What They Say
Fee decides to spend more time with her family and questions whether she'll ever return to space. 500 million miles away, Hachimaki is at the threshold of a new era for mankind as the crew of the Von Braun finally reach Jupiter. Back on Earth, the engineer of the Jupiter Mission, Weiner Locksmith, becomes haunted by the deaths of all those who lost their lives in pursuit of his vision.

The Review
Planetes comes to a close, but I hope it is never forgotten. Yukimura’s hard sci-fi tale of debris collectors and their dreams and hopes should be on everyone’s shelf.

The cover looks quite fantastic with sharp, bright colors on the matte finish. Since there was no 5th volume original, TOKYOPOP has used the cover from the supplemental material booklet that came out in Japan. Once again there are about 15 pages of translated supplemental material at the back of the book, which is very much appreciated and something that the hard sci-fi fans will definitely enjoy.

The print reproduction is good, although I thought the tones were a little on the dark side. Included in this first printing are 8 color pages that look very nice.

Yukimura’s artwork continues to be quite solid. Character designs are very strong with a realistic style. The panels are also rich with exquisite detail and background artwork. I’m always amazed how Yukimura makes Fee’s face appear so life-like. Not much can be said that hasn’t been already, the artwork is just superb.

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. That is really the only complaint that can be made here. The translation is done quite well, reading very clearly and feeling quite appropriate for all characters.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Despite Fee’s and Yuri’s best efforts, the war in space wages on with debris scattered everywhere. The Republic Space Army’s lone spaceport is attacked, sending 25,000 tons of metal and materials into orbit. The cleanup job will be one that will take years to complete. Meanwhile, the Von Braun is closing in on Jupiter and will arrive shortly. The journey has been boring for many, as most of the functions of the ship are automated by machines. However for a few, the journey now becomes quite stressful, especially for the Captain, who is trying to figure out those right words to say to the people back home as they make their first steps on the Jupiter landing. These words will forever be cemented in history, so getting them just right is quite a stressful task for one who is a bit of a perfectionist.

The first half of this volume wraps up the rest of Fee’s story, one that I have really enjoyed as I believe her to be the most interesting and entertaining character in the series. After seeing the spaceport explode into millions of small particles in orbit, she begins to feel as though humanity is something she does not want to be a part of anymore as she retreats back home to take care of her son. Through flashbacks we learn about her Uncle Roy, who lived in the backwoods by her grandmother’s home in a treehouse away from everyone. Fee loved her uncle very much, but her mother had pretty much disowned him and forbade Fee from seeing him. After a tragic event with her uncle, Fee is left with a scar that she still carries with her, always searching for her Uncle Roy. In the aftermath of this war, Fee begins herself to seclude herself off from the debris problems at hand, choosing not to think about it and remain home. Fee ends up having an introspective journey of her own, where she must decide whether to remain secluded and sealed away, or continue on fighting no matter how crazy humanity can seem at times.

The last half of this volume follows the Von Braun as it makes it’s way towards Jupiter. Most of the crew is bored, and Hachimaki makes sure to document everyone’s boredom on film, with or without their permission. When the Captain comes down with a severe stomach ulcer due to stress, it is decided that it will be Hachimaki who will speak the first words from the planet Jupiter. As the series reaches its end, Hachimaki says his final words that are simple yet quite powerful. His character has had his share of ups and downs this whole series. There’s no doubt that a few volumes ago Hachimaki would have probably said something completely different, but it is his growth that Yukimura has scripted wonderfully that makes these final moments quite a fitting end.

Yukimura also does not let us forget about the man behind the Jupiter dream, Werner Locksmith. Probably not the most favorite character in the series, but I think that he was a very important one. He is a big dreamer that pulls in many others to help see it to fruition. He also has his fair share of personal demons, as he has the blood of many of his scientists and other workers on his hands. But he also believes that without their blood the dream would never have become reality, and the dream not coming true would be an insult to them. He is quite a complex character that I would have liked to have seen more time devoted to telling his story. But alas, the story must end somewhere, and what Yukimura has accomplished with creating such strong characters in a complex, yet familiar well-thought out world that shines above all.

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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