Hey everyone! This is Mokugyo, the manga-and-anime loving writer from MANGA.TOKYO! It is now August, the height of summer here in Tokyo. It is so hot every day! In the summer, many people go to the beach and woods to enjoy various activities. Well, I personally am staying indoors every day to write articles… but let’s leave that aside. People love going swimming and camping in the summer.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if you were able to go camping out in space? Today, I would like to introduce you to a manga in which high school students go on a camping trip to another planet, but due to an incident caused by some mysterious powers, they get warped and are stranded out in space. The students need to work together and survive in order to go back to their home planet of Earth. The title of this manga is Astra Lost in Space (Kanata no Astra) written by Kenta Shinohara.
Who is Kenta Shinohara?
Kenta Shinohara is well known for being the author of Sket Dance, serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump. Sket Dance is a comical story about three characters, Bossun, Himeko, and Switch, who form the Sket-Dan (Helper’s Club) to solve any problems that occur in school and help their schoolmates. The manga became popular for its beautiful drawings and unique characters, and it also got an anime adaptation. One of the fascinating factors of the manga is that the daily lives of Japanese high school students are depicted in a detailed and comical way.
Shinohara is also famous for having been the assistant of Hideaki Sorachi, the author of Gintama. Thanks to his experience as part of the Gintama staff, he is amazing at keeping a good balance between the comedy and the serious aspects in his manga. He also does a great job at featuring his unique characters in each chapter, and it makes the readers feel like the characters really exist.
Sket Dance has many similarities with Gintama. Both manga have three main characters who try to help out others and solve mysteries. Ordinarily, the protagonists, Bossun and Gintoki, are both lazy losers. Also, the female characters, Himeko and Kagura, are both extremely strong. Switch and Shinpachi both wear glasses (in the anime, Switch also shares a voice actor with Gintoki). Because of these similar aspects, Sket Dance is often compared with Gintama. There were even episodes in which the two manga collaborated; the characters from Sket Dance appeared in Gintama, and the characters of Gintama appeared in Sket Dance.
What is Astra Lost in Space?
Astra Lost in Space is a sci-fi manga written by Kenta Shinohara. It has been serializing since May 2016 on Shueisha’s online distribution service Jump Plus, and the first volume of the tankobon paperbacks was released in July 2016. It currently has three volumes, and Volume 4 is to be released in August 2017. There aren’t many volumes yet, so if you’re interested, you can easily catch up!
Compared to Sket Dance, which is a comical story that takes place in a modern Japanese high school, Astra Lost in Space is set in the future in outer space. The two manga have completely different atmospheres. However, the elements unique to Shinohara’s manga are all inherited in this new manga. Astra Lost in Space is a very entertaining story with both funny and serious scenes.
This manga is a Jump manga, just like One Piece, Naruto, and Gintama, but it is different in the fact that it is serialized online. A sci-fi story which is set in outer space is interesting, but too experimental to serialize in the paperback Jump magazine. However, online distribution makes it possible for these types of experimental manga to get attention. In fact, many of the manga which are being serialized on Jump Plus have experimental elements, such as challenging themes or manga that have a great story but poor illustrations. The serialization of Astra Lost in Space was a big challenge for Jump which has succeeded in gaining popularity.
The Charm of Astra Lost in Space: The Simple Storyline
One of the charms of Astra Lost in Space is that, although it includes sci-fi elements, the storyline is very simple and easy to understand. The students who are warped into outer space try to go back home by surviving many obstacles. Usually, in sci-fi novels or manga, many technical terms are used and the story tends to become complicated. However, Shinohara, who truly knows how to grab the attention of readers thanks to his serialization of Sket Dance, has the skills to create a simple story that anyone can enjoy. The manga hardly includes any difficult terms or complicated descriptions, and the story proceeds with simple characters.
The Biggest Mystery: Who Caused the Accident?
Another fascinating point of this manga is its mystery elements. For some reason, nine students suddenly get warped into outer space. One of the key mysteries in the story is, ‘Who caused this to happen?’ As the story develops, the students all start to think that there may be someone out of the nine students who intentionally caused the incident. If this is true, why did he or she do it? Do the nine students have something in common? Does the perpetrator want to kill the students all at once, or is this situation just some kind of test? Various mysteries come up in the story. It is exciting to read the manga while predicting who the perpetrator is and what his or her true intentions are.
In the most recent chapter, it was revealed that there is one thing the nine students all have in common. This revelation really surprised me! Shinohara is truly an amazing author.
Next Page: Meet the Characters