Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: ASTRA LOST IN SPACE Volume 1


MANGAKA: Kenta Shinohara
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
EDITOR: Marlene First
ISBN: 978-1-4215-9694-5; paperback (December 2017); Rated “T” for “Teen”
208pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

Astra Lost in Space is a new science fiction graphic novel series published by VIZ Media.  It is the English-language publication of Kanata No Astra, the shonen manga (Japanese comics for teen) from creator Kenta Shinohara and published in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump.

Astra Lost in Space, Vol. 1 (entitled Planet Camp; Chapters 1 to 7) is set in the year 2063.  By that time, interstellar travel has become the norm for the people of Earth.  The story opens on the first day of “Planet Camp,” and Aries Spring, a sweet-natured teen girl, couldn’t be more excited.

Aries is joining seven other teens and one pre-teen girl (a.k.a. “Planet Camp Group B-5”) on a sojourn to Planet McPa for a week-long excursion.  Soon after they arrive on McPa, however, a mysterious orb appears and transports the entire group into the depths of space.  That is where they will die unless they can make their way to an empty floating spaceship.

The Astra Lost in Space manga is the latest accessible teen-oriented sci-fi graphic novel series from VIZ Media.  It is a pop comic offering mystery, danger, and adventure via interstellar space travel.

Astra Lost in Space Graphic Novel Volume 1 moves quickly into the story.  Creator Kenta Shinohara uses the early chapters to reveal the characters' personalities, and many of them are familiar teen manga types.  We have the sweet girl; the boy seeking redemption; the bratty, selfish queen bee; the sulky loner, and the really smart science-tech guy, to name a few.  The most interesting characters are the leads, Aries (sweet girl) and Kanata Hoshijima (boy seeking redemption), and the story is the strongest when they are the focus.

As for the interstellar adventure, that is quite intriguing because it mixes mystery and conspiracy.  The story suggests that something metaphysical or larger than mankind or perhaps something human and conniving is going on.  Which is it?  Or is it both?

I am not sure that adult readers will really take to Astra Lost in Space because it is so teen-oriented, both in the quality of the narrative and in the tone of its appreciation.  I have to say that if Astra Lost in Space were an American teen sci-fi comic, I would think that only BOOM! Studios of the major and mini-major comic book publishers would publish it because BOOM! does have a teen-oriented imprint that would be a good fit for Astra Lost in Space.  This adult will keep reading.

7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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