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Astra: Lost In Space Volume 1 Manga Review

Astra.jpg

“Astra: Lost In Space” is a mixed bag.

In the first volume of writer/artist Kenta Shinohara’s manga series “Astra: Lost In Space,” we (the reader) are transported to the year 2063 where a group of 8 high school students (Aries, Kanata, Quitterie, Zack, Charce, Ulgar, Luca, and Yun-hua lu) and 1 kid (Funica) embark on a 5 day planet camp trip where they are left on the planet with no adult supervision. The idea is to have them bond, commune with nature, and teach the young child Funica. Unfortunately, this trip doesn’t exactly go as planned after they encounter a mysterious glowing orb. To make a long story, the students wind up, as the title suggests, lost in space. Why and how remains a mystery, but one thing is for sure, they need to work together if they want to survive a trip that will almost certainly last more than 5 days.

“Astra: Lost In Space” is about as frustrating as a manga can be. On one hand, the sci-fi adventure series offers up an intriguing premise filled with danger, mystery, and potential. Sure, the plot is reminiscent of the likes of “Lost,” “Lost In Space,” “The 100,” and “Star Trek: Voyager,” but there’s a good story set-up here and a real chance for Kenta Shinohara to explore his creative side both in terms of the art and storytelling.

On the subject of the artwork, it is far and away the highlight here. I loved pouring over the ship designs, the outfits, the ship interiors, and vivid locations. It elevates the underwhelming aspects of the manga.

On the other hand, there’s the aforementioned underwhelming aspects. I’m sad to say that the characters really didn’t do much for me. While I find the wannabe leader/hero Kanata and the brainy Zack to be decent enough characters, the other 7 feel decidedly one dimensional and or a bundle of cliches. It doesn’t help that the characters often bicker, spout dopey dialogue, or engage in overwritten conversations. To his credit, Kenta Shinohara does slow things down to give characters the room to breathe (and even provides a few flashbacks), but the material never resonated. Now, as is always the case for any manga series, there is of course room for growth and development, but, as is, the characters are the least interesting thing about ‘Astra.’

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June 15, 2018 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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