Thursday, July 8, 2010

Twin Spica Volume 2

By Kou Yaginuma. Released in Japan as "Futatsu no Spica" by Media Factory, serialized in the magazine Comic Flapper. Released in North America by Vertical.

I will admit, most of this volume is pretty much predictable. Remember that shot in Volume 1, where you saw the teacher, filled with good will, come to Asumi's name and his face became a blank mask? Yeah, if you do, you can likely guess the rest of this volume - the main parts, at least.

Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The author is having the same struggle as his young protagonist. Having started the journey, we now discover how tough it is. After all, if it was easy to be an astronaut, everyone would do it. Luckily, our heroine is made of sturdy stuff. Her childhood jogs give her awesome stamina, and she finds the astrogation fascinating rather than dull as dirt. She'd risk being a bit too perfect were it not for her fragile self-esteem.

I'm not quite sure if the teacher is going to be one of the all-bad variety who gets replaced, or will be one who learns he has wronged everyone through the power of heart and becomes a better person. With this sort of story, it could go either way. Right now, however, he's clearly in the giant jerk phase, and is not being too subtle about it either. Indeed, several of the other teachers are calling him on why he's being so gung ho about getting rid of this one student.

Meanwhile, we get more set-up. Clearly Marika has issues, and she's certainly the most interesting of the supporting cast. As has been noted by a few other reviewers, a lot of this volume reads like a standard school manga, with bullying, grumpy teachers, and overcoming hardships through true grit - just with added SPACESHIPS! However, I trust the author to take us where he's going at his own pace.

As with Volume 1, about 1/3 of the volume is devoted to short stories with the same cast the author wrote prior to Twin Spica being picked up as a series. They're not quite as out-of-the-park awesome as the previous volume's, but they're both excellent, giving us an idea of exactly how the disaster of 10 years earlier affected not just Asumi but everyone around her. I do hope we see more of Kasane in future volumes.

There's a bit of a sophomore slump in this volume, but that's not uncommon with longer works. Much of what we see here is setup, with one big plot gun fired at the end of Chapter 8 to serve as a cliffhanger into Volume 3. Will Asumi be able to overcome everything? Still well worth reading.

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