One of the nicest things about 2012 so far is that I’m finally finding the time to catch up on reading some of my favorite manga series, like Twin Spica and Fullmetal Alchemist and 20th Century Boys and Cross Game. So as time allows (ahaha, and that’s still in short supply), I’m going to try to write some quick catch up posts on each of these series. First up: Twin Spica, of which I read volumes 9-11 over this past holiday weekend.
Three volumes of Twin Spica is a lot of pages of manga, since Vertical has condensed the 16-volume Japanese run into a 12-volume US run. With the end of the series so close, there’s a lot happening in each volume. Slice-of-life stories like Twin Spica can often feel like they’re treading water, leaving readers thinking, “Well, that’s all very nice, but nothing is happening!” That’s not the case here. There are still plenty of quiet scenes, but the reader always has the sense that still waters run deep. The peaceful moments here are definitely the calm before the storm.
One thing I noticed–and appreciated–about these volumes was how tightly they focused on the friendship of our core five characters. In previous volumes, we often spent time with more peripheral characters, people who offered us outside perspectives on our main characters (especially Asumi), especially through their own experiences with and connections to the space program and the Lion disaster. We do get some of this in volume 9: we see Asumi through the eyes of her newest neighbors in the dorm, and Asumi is visited by a classmate from Yuigahama. But in volumes 10 and 11, it’s all about Asumi, Marika, Kei, Shu, and Fuchuya, and the ways their lives have been changed by their friendships with each other and their common dream. There are no more narrative digressions, and because of that, the spoilery events at the ends of volumes 10 and 11 carry all the more weight.
Be warned: Twin Spica is still, and always has been, a tearjerker. This series regularly makes me cry, and these three volumes are no exception. And for the first time, I am feeling a bit manipulated by the emotional rollercoaster. While I don’t want to go too much into spoilers at this point, I will say I hit the last pages of volume 11 and went, “Aggghhh!” and also, “You have got to be kidding me.” The big event at the end of volume 10 didn’t feel cheap to me, but big event at the end of volume 11…well, the jury’s still out on that one.
The twelve and final US volume of the series will be published by Vertical on March 6.