Friday, April 6, 2012

Manga Review: Saturn Aparments (volumes 1-3)

Another series I came across the local library recently and it's another series from Viz's Sig Ikki line which I've enjoyed in the past. The review only covers the first three volumes but when I was done I found the fourth volume was up on the Sig Ikki site which didn't change my opinion of the series actually. By that point I had gotten into the groove of the series and was enjoying it's strong points and just dealing with it's weaker points.


Saturn Apartments (volumes 1-3) by Hisae Iwaoka

Summary: In the future all of humanity has moved off Earth to giant apartment buildings that orbit the Earth while it recuperates and life goes on as normal. There are rich people and poor people, those with happy lives and those with regrets, but the real difference between life on Earth and on the space station is that only those on the upper levels can afford to have their gigantic windows cleaned so they can see real sunlight again. Mitsu, like his father before him, is one of those window cleaners who does this dangerous job everyday and hopes to bring a bit of joy to people’s lives. 

The Good: Once the story got into the swing of things I liked the slice of life aspect of the story, especially since many of the minor characters became reoccurring characters (I think that reoccurring characters strengthen a story, or perhaps it’s the setting that encourages reoccurring characters, one that while it’s slice of life has progression of time and character development). I do like a subplot that was also introduced in the second volume, where the characters start wondering what is going on on Earth all this time and how some of the characters are slowly starting to make plans to sneak down to Earth and find out, and that’s the real reason I want to continue to series, to see what they find out.

The Bad: This is a bit of a slow series, it took a volume and a half before I got into it and, if I was buying this instead of having the luxury to get it out of the library, I wouldn’t have picked up the second volume. It’s a very niche title, almost more so than some of the other Sig Ikki titles, and even though I ended up enjoying the story in the end I can’t see myself wanting to buy it, re-read it, and can’t think of any friends of mine who I would even recommend it to. Normally I want to do at least one of those things so I think that there is something just off with the overall tone/feel of the story that makes it a bit hard to like. I’m not saying people can’t like it, I’m just saying that even people who would ordinarily like a slice of life, sci-fi story might not like this as much. 

The Art: The artwork reminds me a little of Natsume Ono's style in the way the characters are drawn. The designs seem a bit simplistic and rely more on basic looking shapes than intricate details to differentiate. The backgrounds however have more detail to them and for a story where the setting is so important, in a way it’s the titular character, it wouldn’t have worked quite as well if the backgrounds were as simple as the characters. There are very few if any screentones used and the pen and ink shading gives the station a worn and outdated feeling and, considering all the comparisons that are made between the luxurious upper levels and the poorer lower levels I’m sure that was a deliberate choice.

It's not a series I can see myself purchasing in the future, it just doesn't have that much re-readability or loanability for me, but if the library got more volumes or if more chapters were uploaded online on the Sig Ikki site I think I'd continue following along.

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