The shonen genre is known for its epic battles and fun we can find in titles like Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, My Hero Academia, and these themes have drawn in many anime fans and served as a gateaway into the otaku culture. I love shonen as much the next anime fan, but when it comes to reading many shonen series, I get overwhelmed by how long some of them are. I don’t think I could ever go through something like One Piece. I always wished the shonen genre would offer the option of shorter series and Astra Lost In Space, a popular space title by Kenta Shinohara, answered the call.
Manga Title: Astra Lost In Space (彼方のアストラ )
Art and Story: Kenta Shinohara
Released: May 2016 – December 2017
English Publisher: Viz Media
Aries is running late for her school trip and meets Kanata along with six other students attending space camp together as a group. For a week, they will be alone on a new planet with the task of survival, learning to work together as a group. However, not long after arriving, everything takes a turn for the worse when a mysterious orb swallows everyone and dumps them into deep space. The group luckily finds a working spaceship and with it the hope of making it back home, but the journey for these teenagers brings many trials and tribulations they are unaware of.
Space Fun and an Unexpected Plot
Astra Lost In Space is as you would expect, a fun adventure that follows a bunch of teenagers trying to make their way home. But there are some things I was not expecting. For a five-volume series, there are some tide-turning developments halfway through the story which elevate the story from a typical shonen. There are obvious shonen traits you’ll see coming, but at the same time, fun twists that keep you interested. There is an information overload when the inner plot kicks in, along with unnecessary, long explanations. That could have been dialed down.
This short series astonished me with its engaging, surprising plot but on top of this, it amazed me how the characters were given such great focus. It’s just adoring to watch this group of teenagers, complete strangers to one another and how they eventually all come together. Each group member brings their own talents that aid every situation they face. There is Kanata who takes the role of leader and Zack is the mechanic. On each new planet, the group needs to collect resources for the journey home, and each new place brings with it trials and drives everyone closer to one another.
I absolutely loved how the series delved into each member’s personal issues and backgrounds, and that leaves you with an emotional attachment to the group. This won me over and I fell in love with this group of teenagers, with their personal problems, some being relatable and others surprising. It just added the emotional cord for you to latch on to these characters, which made all the difference. These teenagers are dealt a massive blow, affecting all of them and you’re going to feel for them. This just changed the whole dynamic to the plot itself – it worked brilliantly.
There was also plenty of humor throughout, which left me cracking up half the time, especially with Kanata. He is such a free spirit and goofball; his presence is warming. Each character’s individuality brings out new sides in each other, causing lots of funny banter and bickering.
The series’ artwork is solid. This is my first time reading anything by Kenta Shinohara. He has a gorgeous, detailed style, especially a talent for backgrounds, capturing the lush space vegetation and alien creatures. There are some two spread manga panels in every volume that are just amazing to look at. His artwork shines best here. The artwork sets up that space factor, allowing total immersion.
Themes And Trivia
Other Works: Another popular work of Kenta Shinohara is Sket Dance. This appeared in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2007 to 2013. The story focuses on three student clubs that’s act as support groups, solving the problems of its teachers and students.
Fanservice Space Suits: The exposure of fanservice is kept to a minimum. Tight fitting space suits is the limit.
I feel like my pleas were heard after all these years for a short shonen series. I was late to the game reading this fun title only this year, but it was refreshing. Astra Lost In Space is a great option for people like me who can’t stick to multiple long-running shonen series, and has a great potential to become a gateway for newcomers to this genre. I was expecting to fall in love with this series, but it still surprised me with its plot and characters. It has a well-crafted story and a loveable cast of characters which goes far beyond the cliche notion of teenagers going on a space adventure. Such an adoring, fun read!! I hope we get more titles like this.
- Surprising and unpredictable plot that keeps things interesting throughout the series.
- Well-crafted characters and fantastic central focus on the main group and their personal struggles.
- Artwork is amazingly detailed, especially the space backgrounds, planets, alien creatures.
- Brilliant twist involving the deep emotional attachment the reader has with the main cast
- Great getaway series into shonen genre
- There is a minor theme of sexuality covered within the series which I wasn’t sure was necessary.
- Around three-quarters of the way through, there is a bit of an information-overload with a lot of long explanations. It was a bit much to digest and should have been scaled down.
Astra Lost In Space is a lot of fun and more than just a space adventure about nine teenagers. For a short series, it surprised me with its plot and characters. I can see why its popularity has risen. Studio Lerche is behind the anime adaptation and it’s looking gorgeous. I’m fully confident if you either read the manga or watch the anime, you’re going to have a blast!!
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Astra Lost in Space
Anime Adaptation Info:
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