Sazan and Comet Girl is first and foremost a love story. Not just a love story between the main leads, but a love story to a genre of daring-do, forbidden planets, and unfathomable science, the space opera. Clearly inspired by the anime and manga of the 70s and 80s, author Yuriko Akase set out to make a new work that paid loving tribute to the past. They succeeded. Combining the art styles of Go Nagai, Rumiko Takahashi, and a dash of Jack Kirby with modern narrative sensibilities, Sazan and Comet Girl is a fun and moving facelift to everything I loved about space operas past.
Presented in vivid watercolor, the story focuses on the titular Sazan, a blue-collar worker living on a far-future Earth. Humans have made peace with extraterrestrial life, and technology has advanced so much that Sazan finds work off-world, constructing mini “home moons” for cute, caterpillar-looking aliens. Sazan is an optimistic guy with a big heart, so when he hears about this force of nature called the Comet Girl coming close by, he is thrilled. Sure, destruction follows the Comet Girl wherever she goes, but it will be exciting, right?
By accident, Sazan does meet the Comet Girl, and finds out she is not a force of nature, but a woman named Mina. A pretty cool woman, in fact. Mina and Sazan have instant chemistry, and the author does a good job building a loving relationship between the two. Oftentimes in manga and anime, a couple can be broken down to one being a protector and the other a protectee, and their roles never change. Here, the roles constantly switch, creating a balanced and supportive relationship that more manga should take notes on.
Mina is not only a cool woman, she also possesses great power that various groups want to harness. It’s not long before those groups find Mina and chase her and Sazan, which is where the main plot starts moving. I haven't seen aliens and spaceships like these since Space Dandy. Shout out to the Picnic Pirates, where the captain is a pig and the ship's flag is an upside down heart (kind of like a pig snout, no?).
Those pirates are wonderful characters. Really, all the character work in this manga is great. They all had instant and distinct personalities, and their motivations and backstory were revealed at a good pace. I should also congratulate the author for their wonderful use of subtext that’s missing from many manga. When going back for a mop is a major moment for a character and the reader, you know there’s some darn good storytelling going on. Darn good.
The only flaws I found were in the book's second half. After a certain point, the story has to introduce a lot of new elements that were only hinted at in the first half, bogging the pacing down a bit. Some more foreshadowing would make for an easy fix. These flaws don’t take away from the emotional ending. You can probably guess how it ends, but you’re so invested in the characters that it doesn’t matter. The manga’s heart and thirst for life is too big, too overwhelming for you to not get swept up in this adventure.
Sazan and Comet Girl has a soul. It’s bright, loving, adventurous, and so much fun. I’m glad Seven Seas took a chance and released this, and I hope Yuriko Akase has a wonderful career (this is his first published work, which is crazy to me). I hope more people give this a chance as well, because this should not be slept on.
Sazan, a young man from Earth, works on other planets and has seen his share of galactic oddities. But when he meets Mina, a red-headed girl who zooms into his life on a space scooter, he knows he's run into someone special. Mina contains shocking power within her body--power that attracts armed thieves who hope to steal it from her. Mina zooms out of Sazan's life almost as quickly as she arrived, but Sazan is determined to find her again...no matter how far he has to chase her across the galaxy.Add to CartLearn More