Manga Review: Asadora! Volume Three

Asadora! Volume Three continues to establish the pieces that connect together for the overarching mystery.

Asadora! Volume Three
Written by: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: July 20, 2021

Volume Three opens with three color pages that show an event that will take place in the future… the return of the mysterious creature that destroyed Asa’s hometown. Immediately after this, though, we return to where Volume Two left off. Asa is talking with the young scientist after seeing the picture of the scratches in the tree that he dropped. Overall, this young man is rather rude to her, but Asa keeps trying to ask him questions. She eventually gets out of him that the picture is part of the research his mentor was doing before he died. The reader, of course, knows this is the same young man we saw in the opening scene of Volume Two, where he and his mentor were shown the tree with the scratches. From this knowledge, the reader can ascertain that somehow, this young man and his mentor’s research, will become important at some point in the story.

Afterwards, Kasuga secretly takes Asa to Hamamatsu to see Colonel Jissoji, the man who came to see Kasuga in Volume Two to ask him about the creature. He’s overseeing jet planes practicing at skywriting the five rings for the Olympic symbol. The colonel makes it clear that this is a very important mission for the jet planes, and that nothing must happen to ruin their show when they do it for real at the opening ceremony of the 1964 Olympics that are coming up in Tokyo. The colonel asks them to take on a mission to fly close to the creature and ascertain what it is the next time it appears, since they have no idea what it actually is. They are told to be ready at a moment’s notice. Kinuyo, who is serving as a guardian for Asa and her siblings, is unhappy to learn that Kasuga took Asa to Hamamatsu without her permission. Kinuyo is very protective of these kids, and she really wishes that Asa wouldn’t fly the plane. While they tell her they went to Hamamatsu, they try to fib and claim it was to meet with a client for a flying advertisement. From the way Kinuyo’s expression is drawn, though, it gives the impression that she doesn’t entirely believe them.

Kinuyo becomes important later in the volume when Asa’s youngest sibling gets in a fight after a classmate makes fun of a drawing he made, as well as saying that Kinuyo isn’t their real mother. The drawing is of the mysterious creature, which the youngest sibling insists that he saw. But it’s pointed out that he was just a newborn that day. However, he insists that he actually saw it. I thought this was an interesting detail to add, and it makes the reader wonder if he really did see it as a newborn or not. But this leads to Kinuyo and Asa, along with Asa’s siblings, going to see the other child’s family. Asa sees that they have a big family with a lot of kids, just like Asa’s before her hometown was destroyed. What I really liked about this portion of the story was how Kinuyo demonstrates what kind of a mother figure she is for Asa and her siblings. While these children may not be her own, she still takes the job of caring for them seriously.

Asa also finds herself stuck in the middle of a situation involving her two best friends, Yone and Miyako. They both want to be idols, but in the last volume, a talent scout was only interested in Yone. Yone has kept this secret from Miyako. But we learn that Yone has gone ahead and set up a meeting with the talent scout without her parent’s permission. But Yone wants Asa to accompany her to the meeting, because she’s afraid to go alone. I can’t blame Yone for wanting Asa to go along with her, since I have my suspicions that this talent scout isn’t on the up and up. Every time Asa tries to convince Yone to tell Miyako about the talent scout, Miyako keeps trying to get Asa to say something. I had to feel bad for Asa here, because she’s expected to keep this secret, and Yone doesn’t want to take responsibility to tell Miyako the truth. We see Miyako talking about becoming a star in the future, completely clueless as to what’s happening to Yone, and I felt bad for her. I can only see this situation end in disaster, either from the talent scout acting inappropriately, or Miyako finding out what’s happening and learning that both Yone and Asa kept this a secret from her. The signs seem to be pointing to some friendship drama coming up in the future in some way, shape, or form.

The colonel sends a messenger/bodyguard named A-Kura to be with Asa and Kasuga. He’s there to keep an eye on them so when the creature appears again, they can be mobilized immediately. Rather quickly, Asa and Kasuga are taken to a location in a former red light district, where it’s discovered that Keiichi, the young scientist from earlier in the volume, is related to the owner of the building. The colonel has discovered that Keiichi has his mentor’s research and intends to go through it to find some answers about the mysterious creature. Keiichi later admits to Asa that he doesn’t believe in any of his mentor’s research and only has it because he wanted to save it from being destroyed. Later, Kasuga makes a modification to Asa’s plane, and she hates it. Yes, this modification was needed for the upcoming mission, but he made a major change to Asa’s plane without her knowledge. I can’t say I blame Asa for how she reacted to the news.

We get a chapter focusing on Shota and the life he’s leading in Tokyo. He’s living with a couple that runs a newspaper office, and it’s his job to deliver papers. Unfortunately, his mind is more on running than on delivering, so he gets a lecture from his employer about missing deliveries. While he’s out for his next delivery, he sees someone who, from behind, looks a lot like and runs a lot like someone who is on Japan’s national team. Shota decides he can’t pass up the opportunity to run with this guy, so Shota once again neglects his deliveries to try to race this guy. He feels a sense of accomplishment when he catches up and then passes the guy, but it turns out it’s someone imitating the runner from the national team. I can only imagine how disappointed Shota would be to find this out, as well as the fact that he’s going to get into trouble for missing more deliveries. So far, it seems that Shota has gotten a chapter of his own in both the second and third volumes of the series. In this volume, we also learn why Shota really doesn’t respond to Asa’s letters: his handwriting is hard to read because it’s messy. I hope at some point in the series, Shota and Asa can have a reunion and ultimately tie these two stories back together.

Right at the end of the volume, we see that the unknown creature makes an appearance in the ocean. While the final scene of the volume doesn’t match up with the color pages at the beginning, we can assume that the creature’s return is being seen by these people from different locations. It looks like Urasawa is setting the foundation for Asa and Kasuga to launch their mission to get some reconnaissance and information about the unknown creature.

Urasawa is doing a great job with Asadora! As I read Volume Three, I was intrigued by the story and I didn’t want to stop reading. I like Asa as a character, and I can’t wait to find out what kind of adventures she’s going to have in the next volume of the series.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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