Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Twin Spica by Kou Yaginuma - mini gush

Twin Spica - volumes 1 - 3
by Kou Yaginuma

Published in English by Vertical 

Format: paperback - my daughter has us calling these backwards books

Published: 2010
Pages: 192 pages (vol 1 & 2), 190 pages (vol 3)

Genre: Manga SciFi/Fantasy
Source: own book

Summary from Amazon:
In a Tokyo in the not too distant future a young girl studies deligently with ambitions of soon attending space academy. If things work out just right, her future may very well be among the stars as well. And yet, every time she looks up to the stars there is a sense of melancholy in her heart. A sadness surrounds Asumi, as space exploration itself has profoundly impacted her life for as long as she can remember.

But she is not alone...A young man wearing a lion's mask is always beside her. He speaks of the constellations and galaxies as if he they were like home. He knows what it is like to love the stars--slightly bitter and yet always so warm and inviting. Truth is he has gone through much of Asumi is just experiencing. And now in spirit he will forever be with Asumi guiding her on her path to space.

So, due my son's interest in learning Japanese and reading manga I have been on an epic (well - with a little "e" but still) quest to find age appropriate stories for both of my children. I picked up Twin Spica because a) my daughter loves space and b) the idea of going to school to study to be an astronaut would be of interest to both of my kids. 

I pre-read the story to see what I thought and OMG! - it was complex, deeply melancholy and absolutely fascinating.  I was blown away and immediately set about trying to get the rest of the series. 

The main character is 13-year old Asumi, a quiet and self-contained dreamer.  The "sadness" that surrounds not only Asumi, but pretty much all of the characters is due to the fact that ten years earlier the launch of the first Japanese built space ship was a catastrophic failure. Not only was the ship destroyed, it crashed into a city, resulting in death and destruction from which the country is only just starting to recover. (This isn't a spoiler since it it pretty much spelled out in the first pages of the book). 

Despite the fact that Asumi's mother was one of the casualties, she still dreams of flying to the stars.  

And I am not even going to try to explain Mr. Lion - that would be a spoiler. 

The isn't much in the way of action, but the stories are emotionally gripping. My son grabbed the first book - read it in one gulp, and looked at me with tears in his eyes asking for the next volume.  Just wow!  

We are on volume three and I have used copies of the next couple on the way.  

At the moment, I am totally invested in this story and want to know how it is resolved. I just hope that the emotional ride has a solid, and uplifting, finish.  My son is fairly heartbroken for Asumi right now and is also waiting to see what happens next. 

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