It’s the 2070s, and mankind has conquered space, making interplanetary travel possible and igniting the imaginations of the world. It’s also vastly increased the amount of dangerous space debris and someone has to clean it up. Hachimaki, Yuri and Fee are a crew on that beat, each with their own goals, tendencies and personal problems: Hachimaki dreams of deep-space exploration in his own ship, Yuri is still recovering from the death of his wife in an accident caused by orbiting debris, and Fee is secretive, but there’s a lot going on under the surface!
Planetes has been a long-time favourite in the sci-fi section of manga and established Makoto Yukimura as a modern manga great. Newer fans may be familiar with Yukimura from his work on Vinland Saga currently being published by Kodansha. Whilst Planetes is obviously in a completely different genre and tone to that series, for fans who have not read Yukimura’s first work, this new omnibus edition is a must read. As readers of Vinland Saga will know, Yukimura’s artwork is top notch. However, beyond that Planetes has a lot more to offer.
One of the unique qualities of Planetes is that despite being set in outer space and clearly fitting into the sci-fi genre, the main draw is the characters and their perspectives and situations. Whilst working in outer space may seem like a glamorous job to readers, Yukimura does a great job in showing how for some, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Beyond several characters suffering from zero-gravity sickness, most of the main characters aren’t the kind of people you’d expect to commit to space travel. Hachimaki has dreams of piloting his own ship deep through space but has found himself stuck as an intergalactic waste disposal man which is threatening to kill his passion for space exploration. Fee must not only cope with being away from her husband and son for years at a time but has to cope with the fact that it is difficult to accommodate someone who heavily smokes in outer space. Yuri meanwhile is trying to cope with his wife’s death which was caused by space debris but is also motivated to remove as much debris as possible so others don’t suffer the same fate.
Planetes is a unique opportunity to see what human life would be like if space travel advanced even further and how different people would react to spending most of their life in space. Any fans of sci-fi manga will eat this series right up and anyone who liked the film Gravity will find plenty to enjoy.
Planetes Omnibus Volume 1 is published 24 December by Dark Horse
Post by Leo Sutherland
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