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 know that I spent a bit of time last volume going on about how much I liked the way the author uses Mr. Lion in this series, but it's really hard not to do so again with this volume. I was expecting him to have some sort of connection with Marika's family which explains why he's so troubled by her, but I wasn't expecting the connection to be as strong as it was. It's also clearly baffling, given the time frame, and while we still don't quite know what's going on with Marika, we're now definitely thinking along the lines of 'who is she really?' rather than just lonely rich kid. Although, especially in the flashbacks, that's an important part. Notably, though, we actually see the origin of the Lion Head - and it's connected to Marika, not Asumi. There's some stunning work here.
Elsewhere, we see Asumi try to reach out once more to the boy from another school we saw last volume. There's lots of interplaying issues here - the prejudice towars space flight, young crushes, trying to decide on a future for yourself that's feasible as opposed to just a crazy dream - and it's very telling of the series that there aren't any good, handy answers. Asumi and Kiriu clearly share a connection that's more than just 'he looks like my old dead friend', but I don't get the sense that they're going anywhere romantically, any more than I do from Asumi and her Unlucky Childhood Friend Fuchuya. That said, the final bit with the spaceship keychain was undeniably sweet.
And of course there is more harsh training. Seriously harsh - the kids, having been told they're testing their ability to be locked in a small space capsule, and carted off into the middle of nowhere, placed away from each other in the middle of a huge forest, and told to get to a point within 5 days using the very rudimentary map provided. They do have trackers on (provided no one loses theirs), but it's still survival training at its best. Naturally, our heroines barely blink at this, and merely go about the business of trying to get there as fast as possible so they don't wash out of the program. Again, Asumi's drive and abilities boggle the mind - that's one impressive kid. We don't see how things end up, thanks to the huge flashbacks with Mr. Lion, so I'm definitely looking forward to Volume 6.
It's very odd to see a series have such a sense of the epic while still remaining so intimate. Heck, even the author's 'Another Spica' end stories, while consisting of the usual self-deprecation I've come to expect from Japanese manga artists, make me wonder if they're telling part of a larger story about the author. The scale of Twin Spica is one of the best things about it, and it continues to remain one of Vertical's absolute best titles.