Manga Review – Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase

Rating: 5 out of 5.

WOW!

I feel like it’s not often that I’m genuinely shocked by a book the way I was by Sazan & Comet Girl. I read a lot of manga and comic books. Just an absolute ton of both. But I’d never heard of this before. Nor had I heard of the creator Yuriko Akase. I saw this on the “New Arrivals” shelf at the library and picked it up because it looked cool and went in with no other previous knowledge.

I was really blown away by the book. It is an absolute mammoth of a volume of manga, clocking it at over 500 pages of story with little-to-no chapter breaks. Sazan & Comet Girl is a sci-fi adventure about a young man named Sazan that meets, and falls for, a dangerous young woman colloquially known as Comet Girl. The two find themselves caught up in a galaxy spanning adventure that features spaceships, aliens, robots, AI, comets, and more.

The first major distinction between this book and most other manga is that it’s fully colored. And let me tell you, the colors are absolutely spectacular. It’s one of the best color jobs I’ve ever seen in a comic. Akase’s art is reminiscent of the best of late-80’s to mid-90’s anime. I’m not sure how best to describe it but if you’re familiar with that era of the medium I hope it gives you a good idea. The coloring here heightens that feel. The entire (again 500 plus pages!) book is water colored by Akase. Every color is pitch perfect. The science fiction visuals are just stunning. It’s bright and bombastic. At it’s best, it brings to mind something you’d expect to see out of a Moebius/Jodorowsky joint.

Akase’s story is no slouch either. Maybe it’s my nostalgia for the aforementioned era but it’s just the right mixture of cheese and adventure. It is a tad formulaic in it’s “Knight In Shining Armor” plot at times but manages to break free just enough to hit the mark. I oscillated back and forth through reading on if it felt too old school in its narrative reliance on Sazan always trying to save the day. I would have liked to see Mina shine a bit more. I ended up landing on the idea that Akase mostly pulled it off. As mentioned, it’s a bit cheesy but I felt it was emotionally resonant. The primary themes are uplifting. The books emotional beats focus on resiliency, love, and the importance of telling and showing people that they have value, even if others tell them they don’t.

I’d consider the book to be suitable for most ages. There is a mild amount of sex appeal and violence but neither are heavily featured…certainly to a much lesser degree than you’d expect from the pages of a Shonen Jump manga or a DC/Marvel comic. Akase needs neither to tell a very effective story.

The further I got into this one the more I fell in love. I’m sure a bit of my reaction is colored by nostalgia for the media the book reminded me of. I just love this kind of adventurous science fiction and the art just creates such an incredible vibe. I figure this kind of pure surprise is rare in a lifetime of reading so I’ll continue to shout about this one from the rooftops. What a delight. I’ll certainly make sure it isn’t the last thing I read from Yuriko Akase.

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