Saturday, April 30, 2005

Planetes, Book 1 - Men At Work

Yes, a Charlie Sheen/Emilio Estevez reference in the thread title!

Who could ask for anything more?!?!

In any event, Planetes, Book 1 by Makoto Yukimura, is, like the Estevez/Sheen film, about a group of garbage collectors.

Only this book (today's "You Decide", as chosen by Brad Curran) is about garbage collectors in SPACE!

takes a very interesting approach to the world of the future, as Yukimura knows that just like how the world of the sea includes not only cruise ships, travel vessels, fighting vessels, aircraft carriers and submarines, but also tug boats and garbage barges; then so does the world of space include crafts like the one in Planetes that just goes around collecting space debris.

However, while the frank look at what outer space life would actually be like is interesting, if it was just an examination of outer space life, then it would not be that good as, well, let's be honest, it would just be an essay on "what outer space would be like in the future." And that, while perhaps interesting to people who are really really really interested in "what outer space would be like in the future," can get boring to people who are as much into that stuff.

Luckily, Planetes revolves around a very interesting cast of characters that really make the comic work. In fact, as much time as Yukimura devotes to the realistic science, he devotes JUST as much time to developing the characters.

Planetes is not a "graphic novel," it is a clear collection of short stories that tell an advancing plot. The characters are Hachimaki, a young astronaut who dreams of being a famous explorer, Yuri, a Russian with a sad past, and Fee, a wife and mother who is gruff, yet she cares about her crewmates.

The stories are basically slice of life stuff, although there is one chapter that gets pretty action-packed, as some world-saving is involved...hehe.

The art is great, but mainly you'll find yourself drawn into these people's world by the rich characters and in-dept characterizations, and you will want to read more and more about these characters.

The stories mix in humor and action and drama quite nicely.

Only one real complaint about the series. At one point, with no explanation, Yukimura switches Yuri and Hachimaki's hair color!! It is soooo weird. Just, out of nowhere, the blonde one is now dark-haired and the dark-haired one is now blonde. Soooo strange.

Still, heavily recommended!


Blogger Adam C. said...

Yeah I noticed that too. It pretty much confused the heck out of me, but he doesn't do anything else like that in the series. (Though I admit that I think black hair looks much better.)

I love Planetes. It's a great series, with fantastic writing and excellent art, particularly from the second volume (there are five volumes in total, though for some reason the last volume is called Volume 4 Part 2) onwards when the story and art really hit their stride.

In particular the art where Yukimura's ability to portray movement and the nuances of facial expression really jumps up a notch. He even takes the effort to rather convincingly render clothing and hair loosely floating in the zero-gravity environment of space, which makes a noticeable the difference. (And wait til you meet Hachimaki's father!)

Personally my favourite story in the first volume was "A Cigarette Under Starlight." Man what some people will do for a smoke.

4/30/2005 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

This was an amazing series. I think it's my favorite manga that I've read. I am thinking about picking up the anime series. Does anybody know if it is any good?

5/02/2005 05:28:00 PM  
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