Manga Review: Asadora! Volume One

Asadora! Volume One tells the story of a young girl named Asa Asada.

Asadora! Volume One
Written by: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 19, 2021

The manga opens with a creature attacking Tokyo in the year 2020. The exposition in these early pages say that Asadora! is the story of a nameless girl and the fearless life she lived from the postwar years to the present day.

From here, the story goes back in time to the Port of Nagoya in 1959. A young girl named Asa Asada, one of 11 children in her family, is trying to get to the doctor so he can go to her home to help deliver sibling #10 before a typhoon hits. As she runs home from her errand, she runs into her friend, Shota, who is being pressured by his family to become a professional runner. As she’s trying to get home, Asa is kidnapped because she is mistaken for being the daughter of the doctor.

However, it turns out that Asa’s kidnapper, Kasuga, isn’t an evil man. He’s just a man in need of money in order to afford the pilot licenses he needs in order to do the work he wants to do. Kasuga used to be in the Japanese military during the war, and he flew planes. Asa and Kasuga strike up an alliance after it’s discovered that the typhoon has caused a lot of damage to Asa’s hometown.

Throughout this volume, Asa shows how brave she is through her interactions with Kasuga, as well as how she helps execute a plan to distribute food and water to the townspeople who are trying to survive after the storm.

While most of the volume focuses on Asa, there is a scene that focuses on her friend, Shota, and how his father and brothers are pressuring him to become an Olympic runner. Shota’s family members are depicted as being quite despicable, between how they survived the storm because they’re training with Shota and believing Shota has been chosen by God when blood falls on his forehead from the sky. These attitudes definitely fit in with characters who are trying to push their own dreams and desires onto someone else who really doesn’t want to pursue those goals.

After reading Sneeze: Naoki Urasawa Story Collection, I was very curious to see what Urasawa could deliver in a manga series. So far, Asadora! has not disappointed. Asa is a very endearing character, and I also found Kasuga to be a character who has more depth to him than simply being a kidnapper. And I found the interactions between Asa and Kasuga evolved naturally as the situation around them changed. So far, Shota appears to be a minor character who has a connection with Asa, but perhaps he’ll start playing a bigger role in future volumes of Asadora!

With something we see at the end of this volume, it appears it’s our first clue as to how the opening scene in 2020 will ultimately fit in with the story that’s currently being told. Hopefully future volumes of Asadora! will drop more of these kinds of clues.

I liked the art in this volume quite a bit. It felt like Urasawa went to a lot of effort to put detail into the panels, especially the ones depicting the flooding that takes place in Asa’s hometown. I also appreciated that each character has a distinctive look to them, and that I can’t confuse who is who due to their designs.

Overall, I think that Urasawa is off to a strong start with the first volume of Asadora! As a reader, I’m invested enough in the main characters that I’ve been introduced to, and I want to find out more about what’s going to happen to them and how the series will progress.

I have a feeling that readers who are already familiar with other works by Urasawa will not be disappointed by what they read in Asadora! Volume One.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Additional posts about Asadora!:

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