Monday, May 12, 2014

MISC. MANGA, *Nadesico

Even though Kia Asamiya of Silent Mobius was given the task of doing the manga adaptation of Martian Successor Nadesico, his take on it starts out similar to the TV series but slowly spins it into an homage to the Mirror Mirror episode of Star Trek. The anime series became a fan hit in the late 90s, partially due to it being a comedic space opera, but mostly because it was one of the first anime that took a sincere look at the otaku lifestyle, even it was on a spaceship set in the future. The manga series however went in a different approach after about the first third of the story, not necessarily in a bad way, but taking some serious liberties with some of the characters and their personal histories.

Set in the late 22nd Century, after decimating their Mars colony, Earth is being attacked by aliens from Jupiter. Akito a lone survivor from Mars who ended up on Earth, and accidently runs into his childhood friend Yurika, who just happens to be the captain of the space battleship Nadesico, set to reclaim Mars for Earth. After getting roped into the crew when the ship takes off, Akito manages to pilot one of the Aetivalis mecha to defend Nadesico from the aliens. Once off in space, Akito befriends the overzealous pilot/otaku Gai Daigoji, who unfortunately dies in battle later on(unlike in the anime!), This rekindles Akito's boyhood love for giant robot anime. The Nadesico is pursued though by a character original to the manga, Captain Kaguya, who is another of Akito's childhood friends, and considers herself a Yurika's rival for his affections. Akito however ends up actually forming a relationship with Minato, the large breasted helmswoman who for some reason becomes strangely attracted to Akito, even to the point of them regularly sleeping together. Akito later looses his eyesight too, and has to use special techno-specs that you'd expect Geordi La Forge to wear. Speaking of which, this is where the manga starts to steer way more towards Star Trek, as the alien enemies are in this series are not really outcast humans from Earth, but in fact alternate versions of our heroes from a parallel universe. In their reality, their ships run on magic, and their sun is dying out, so their only hope was to come and take over our universe. To do this, they kidnap Yurika who is the counterpart to their main shamaness, Himiko, and the bride of the evil version of Akito, who is the leader of the invasion. Much more revelations come like the ship's doctor Inez is really from the other universe, as well as fan favorite Ruri who is actually promoted to captain of the Nadesico just before Yurika's abduction. Ruri, as well as her brunette twin, are not with the main alien force known as the Yamato, but with a resistance force run by Gai's counterpart, the space pirate Captain Government(a deliberate Harlock homage). It all comes down to the Nadesico crew teaming up with the Yamato rebels to stop the invading dopplegangers.

This manga even though it takes a lot of liberties with the original anime plot really does work as a single story, mostly because the anime had numerous tons shifts due to the show having a different director every few episodes. Some other major differences between the anime and the manga was that here Howmei is not the Nadesico's cook but an admiral in the space fleet(and a guy!), plus the addition of the cute robot 98 created by Ruri who acts as sort of like Akito's own personal Jiminy Cricket without being too annoying. Kia Asamiya did a bang up job with the original spaceship designs, and put his own "long-nosed" take on the characters. This was released original as four comic book-sized graphic novels from CPM Manga in left-to-right format as the entire series was printed first as 26 comic book issues, some with variant covers by American artists like Brian Stelfreeze and Jeff Matsuda, but the entire series was later reprinted in four manga-sized novels. It's totally worth looking into if not only you were a fan of the original anime, or if you want to read an actually good Star Trek manga!

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