There are a few manga creators whose name alone makes a book an instant pick-up for me: Taiyo Matsumoto, Akiko Higashimura, and Naoki Urasawa. From sci-fi adventure 20th Century Boys to heist comedy Mujirushi, Urasawa is an expert storyteller capable of telling very human stories. This continues in his latest series, Asadora!, this time a historical sci-fi story featuring a giant flood and… Godzilla?
The book opens in 2020, and it’s an accurate visual representation of that year: the sky engulfed in flames as a giant monster rampages through a city. With the reader hooked, the story travels back to 1959, where a plucky young girl, Asa, runs through her port town of Nagoya. Typhoon Vera, Japan’s strongest and deadliest typhoon on record, is fast approaching, but Asa doesn’t know about that. Her mother is in labor (for the twelfth time) and needs a doctor immediately. But then Asa gets kidnapped, and now the typhoon is almost here...
Urasawa's ability to write strong characters shines in this volume. Asa is a great protagonist, strong-headed and with a childhood innocence that can bend the will of any adult. But she also feels insecure about her family. Having twelve siblings means not everyone gets attention, and Asa feels she always gets the short end of the stick. The kidnapper, who could have been a simple obstacle for Asa to overcome, instead shares his tale of being a WWII pilot, and how veterans were treated after the war. It’s through these interactions that they reach an understanding, and no one ends up being the bad guy. When the storm is over, they both have to step up and become the best versions of themselves to help their community. In times of crisis, you get to see who people really are, and does Urasawa use it to his advantage. Along with great character appreciation, Urasawa provides great insight into Post-War Japan and the Typhoon Vera disaster.
Urasawa depicts history through his meticulous background art. Rich in detail, it helps the reader assimilate into a time-period and place they have probably never experienced. When Urasawa shows the results of the typhoon, they’re often based on real-life photographs of the disaster. You’re seeing what the damage actually was like, and it adds gravitas to the story.
But wait, wasn’t this a sci-fi story? Where are the monsters? Urasawa likes to play the long game in his stories, so you don’t get any of those elements until the very end. If you’re looking for some monster action, you may have to wait until the next volume for that. But the first volume succeeds so well in the other areas it didn’t matter to me.
Asadora! is another strong entry in Urasawa’s career. Asa is a fun lead, and everyone has a level of humanity so they're easy to root for. While the sci-fi is sparse, the historical aspects keep you engaged. I’m excited to see what lay ahead for these characters and what Urasawa is keeping close to his chest.
A deadly typhoon, a mysterious creature and a girl who won’t quit. In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path. In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom—and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye. When Asa’s mother goes into labor yet again, Asa runs off to find a doctor. But no one bats an eye when she doesn’t return—not even as a storm approaches Nagoya. Forgotten yet again, Asa runs into a burglar and tries to stop him on her own, a decision that leads to an unlikely alliance.Add to CartLearn More