By Dustin Cabeal
You can always tell a good story when it fills your imagination with ideas. Upon reading Astra: Lost in Space, I wanted to expand the idea, invent new aspects of the story and go on an adventure of my own. That’s probably weird, but that’s how my mind works. It’s not that I didn’t like this story, in fact, just the opposite, it was just a great idea that made me wish I had thought of it first.
The concept is pretty much in the title. It’s the future, and a group of students is being set up to make their class camping trip. Students from the same school are all picked randomly to be in a group that will go to a different planet and camp for five days. They’re given a task, in this case, to teach and care for a young child. That last part is shit, we all know that the kid is just there for an extra level of drama and danger.
The fun part is that the teachers that drop them off leave right after dropping them off, which makes it interesting for this group as they’re sucked into a sphere of glowing light and shot out into space. Due to Katana’s quick thinking, everyone gets their helmets back on in time. From there they find themselves floating near a spaceship. They make their way on board, but one of them, Aries, is left outside. Her com and thrusters are broken, but instead of dying, Katana finds a way to save her. Once on board, they go over what they know and who they are. One of them is a genius with an IQ of 200. He figures out that they’re 7,000 light years away from where they should be and that a rescue party isn’t coming for them. Katana says they’ll have to get home on their own, but that presents a new set of problems, like food water and planets. Aries comes up with a strategy to get them home, but they still have a lot of bonding and trust to do.
The characters and the humor are what drive the story. There’s a mystery with the sphere and something else going on the ship, but for the most part, you’ll keep reading because of the group. Katana is the self-proclaimed leader/captain, but at one point his leadership is called into question. Eventually, like a real ship, everyone finds and settles into their roles. Well, everyone with any amount of page time in this volume. Two of the characters are underdeveloped at the moment, but that plays into the mystery. Katana and Aries are the most interesting; we get a lot of backstory on Katana though. His entire backstory sets up his personality and how he’ll act for the entire story, which is good. Its needed to believe in him as a leader.
The artwork is stunning. Sure it’s a bit like every other manga, but it was the spaceship, planets, and vegetation that stood out. That and the overall clean pencils. The quality doesn’t dip, making it very consistent and enjoyable. The planet was fun, dangerous and full of inventive ideas. The character designs varied enough to make every character distinct. After reading I forgot most of their names, but while I was reading, I knew who was who and was never lost thanks to the designs.
The first volume of Astra: Lost in Space was impressive in the ground it covers. It not only establishes the plot, the dangers waiting for them and mystery around the team's situation, but it develops a good handful of the characters. It’s a tight story that ended up being filled with humor and adventure. If you’re looking for an entertaining story that’s pure joy to read, look no further than Astra: Lost in Space.
Astra: Lost in Space vol. 1
Story and Art by Kenta Shinohara
Publisher: Viz Media