Manga Review: Twin Spica Volume Two

Article first published as Manga Review: Twin Spica Volume Two by Kou Yaginuma on Blogcritics.

Twin Spica Volume Two is a manga by Kou Yaginuma, and it was published in North America by Vertical, Inc. in 2010. There isn’t any kind of a rating printed on this volume, but I would personally recommend the Twin Spica series to manga readers who are twelve or thirteen years of age and older.

Twin Spica Volume 2
Written by: Kou Yaginuma
Publisher: Media Factory
English Publisher: Vertical
Release Date: July 6, 2010

Volume Two starts out with Asumi heading off to the Tokyo National Space School. “Mr. Lion” sees her off, and tells her not to cry when she’s in Tokyo. At the entrance ceremony, Asumi runs into Kei, one of girls she was assigned to be with during one of the tests in Volume One.

Over the course of the volume, Asumi is reunited with Marika, the other girl from the test in Volume One. She also runs into Fuchuya, her classmates from her hometown. Asumi is also introduced to Shu Suzuki, one of Fuchuya’s partners in the test.

As the group begins to take their classes and learn what the expectations are, it’s more grueling than they had anticipated. Physical fitness is highly stressed, and the students are expected to run 20 laps a day and spend one hour on stationary bikes. Later in the volume, swimming also becomes important. During one of the swimming sections in this volume, some information that was revealed in one of the extra stories in Volume One is referenced. I thought this was a really nice touch.

Over the course of this volume, it seems that Professor Sano, one of Asumi’s instructors, doesn’t like her. At the end of the main story in this volume, the reasoning for his dislike is revealed. As a reader, I found myself being surprised by the revelation.

In addition to the main story, Volume Two also includes three additional stories: “Campanella’s Forest,” “Our Stars, Leaf Stars,” and “Another Spica.” The first two stories are more prequel stories that provide background information for Asumi, Asumi’s teacher from her hometown school, Fuchuya, Asumi’s father, and “Mr. Lion.” I really appreciate the inclusion of these particular stories, because they provide more background on the series for the reader without bogging down the narrative of the main story. “Another Spica” seems to be the Yaginuma’s attempt to insert himself into the Twin Spica universe; personally, I haven’t enjoyed the “Another Spica” stories are much as the others.

Twin Spica is a riveting read, and I find myself really caring about and rooting for the characters in the series. Yaginuma’s art and writing style really contribute to make the characters believable and relatable. I especially felt really bad for Asumi when a bombshell was dropped on her right at the end of the volume. Things look rather bleak for Asumi continuing on, so I’m interested to read Volume Three to see what will happen to her next.

If you enjoy dramatic stories that feature young people with science fiction thrown in the mix, then I really think you would enjoy Twin Spica. I would highly recommend this series to manga readers, and I can’t wait until I can get my hands on a copy of Volume Three so I can continue following the adventures of Asumi and her classmates.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Twin Spica Volume Two that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional posts about Twin Spica:

Manga Review: Twin Spica Volume One

Article first published as Manga Review: Twin Spica Volume One by Kou Yaginuma on Blogcritics.

Twin Spica Volume One is a manga by Kou Yaginuma, and it was published in North America by Vertical, Inc. in 2010. I don’t see a rating printed on this volume, but I would personally recommend this series to manga readers who are twelve or thirteen years of age and older.

Twin Spica Volume 1
Written by: Kou Yaginuma
Publisher: Media Factory
English Publisher: Vertical
Release Date: May 4, 2010

Twin Spica is set in the year 2024. The main character of the series is a 13-year-old girl named Asumi Kamogawa who has dreamed of becoming a space pilot since she was very young. At the beginning of the volume, she has just taken the first test to try to become a member of the first class admitted to the Tokyo Space School.

In 2010, when Asumi was a year old, Japan launched its first entirely Japan-made manned spacecraft, which was called “The Lion.” 72 seconds after take-off, the liquid fuel in the craft’s boosters caught fire. The Space Center was unable to activate the “flight stop system” that is supposed to explode the rocket in mid-flight, and the ship crashed in the middle of a city; there were many people who were injured or killed. All of the crew members on board the ship were killed. Asumi’s mother was burned very badly in the accident, and she remained in a coma for five years.

Even with this event in her past, Asumi is determined to become a pilot. A ghost of one of the members of the crew of “The Lion” served as a mentor to Asumi, and she has nicknamed him Mr. Lion. Asumi is the only person who can see him. Over the course of this volume, we see Asumi going through more tests in order to go to the Tokyo Space School. During one of her tests, she is put into a group with two other girls named Kei Oumi and Marika Ukita. Asumi and Kei become friends right away, with Marika is distant from the other two girls.

In addition to the main story, this volume also includes three additional stories: “2015: Fireworks,” “Asumi,” and “Another Spica.” The first two stories are prequel stories that give some background on Asumi, her parents, and Mr. Lion. I really enjoyed these stories, and thought they added more dimension to the story. They also gave me a greater appreciation for these particular characters. The third story, “Another Spica,” was entertaining, but it didn’t really add anything to the actual story of Twin Spica.

It’s interesting to note that Twin Spica was originally serialized in a seinen magazine in Japan, because seinen is aimed at young men. In this first volume, a lot of the story deals with relationships, with a little drama thrown in. Perhaps it’s the science fiction angle of the story that helps to make it a seinen title. With the relationships and drama thrown in, this helps to make this story more accessible to a female audience. In fact, both my 14-year-old daughter and I enjoyed this manga volume, and we want to read more volumes of the series in the future. However, my daughter did have one complaint about this volume, and that was in regards to a couple of panels where Asumi’s father is shown hitting her.

When it came to Twin Spica, not only did I enjoy Yaginuma’s writing style, I also enjoyed his art style. His character designs are very expressive, and this style helps me to care about the characters in the story and what happens to them.

Even though this series was originally published in a magazine for young men, I think this series can be enjoyed by either male or female readers, especially if they have an interest in science fiction.

While I had heard about Twin Spica for a while before reading this volume, I was moved to finally start reading the series after hearing the news that Vertical, Inc. would be letting the series go out of print. Even though Twin Spica received a lot of critical praise, it ended up not selling very well. Fortunately, Vertical published the entire series, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to finish the story if you start reading this manga series. I would highly encourage manga readers to give Twin Spica a chance, and perhaps even purchase copies of the manga volumes if they enjoy the series enough.

I wrote this review after checking out a copy of Twin Spica Volume One through the King County Library System.

Additional posts about Twin Spica: