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Astral Project Volume 1

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Astral Project Volume 1

Astral Project Volume 1

© marginal, Syuji Takeya 2006

The Bottom Line

Estranged from his family, Masahiko makes a living on the seedier side of Tokyo nightlife as a driver for female escorts. But after his sister dies, he gets hold of a CD that propels him into an out-of-body experience that might hold the secret to her death.

Written by the creator of Old Boy, Astral Project is a taut suspense story with lots of surprising twists. It careens between the material and the metaphysical world, so Astral Project can be dense with details, but it's never, ever boring. A smart, masterfully-written mystery that will hook you in and keep you guessing until the last page.

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  • Inventive, tightly-written suspense with mind-blowing metaphysical twists
  • Smart, stylish writing that has enough substance and surprises to intrigue grown-up readers
  • Marginal creates intriguing, multi-dimensional characters that don't rely on clichés
  • Takeya uses a mix of brushstrokes, crosshatching and computer effects to set an uncommon mood
  • What other manga mixes avant jazz, seedy Tokyo nightlife and astral projection?


  • Marginal hints at Masahiko's personality and backstory, but he's more narrator than hero
  • Doesn't require a deep knowledge of jazz or metaphysics -- but it helps if you're interested in them
  • With matter-of-fact references to casual sex and alcohol, so it's not suitable for younger teens


  • Original Title: Astral Project Tsuki no Hikari (Japan)
  • Author: Marginal (Garon Tsuchiya)
    Artist: Syuji Takeya
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1401217488
  • Cover Price: $12.99 US / $14.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: M – Mature, Age 18+ for mature themes, references to casual sex and suicide
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date:October 2008
    Japan Publication Date: December 2005
  • Book Description: 200 pages, black and white illustrations
  • More Manga by marginal / Garon Tsuchiya:

Guide Review - Astral Project Volume 1

Just like movies and novels, manga has its share of cliché-ridden characters and predictable plots. In Astral Project, marginal takes a pretty basic formula for a mystery - an anti-hero tries to solve the mysterious death of a relative - and turns it on its ear by injecting out-of-body experiences, Tokyo gangsters, government conspiracies and even John Coltrane into the mix. It's mind-blowing, bizarre, fascinating, gritty and ethereal -- sometimes all at the same time.

Masahiko is a jaded twenty-something who works on the fringes of Tokyo nightlife as a driver for high-end female escorts. When he finds out that his older sister has died under mysterious circumstances, Masahiko returns home. He can't bring himself to attend her services, but he takes an unmarked jazz CD from his room as a memento to remember her by. Upon listening to it, he gets propelled into an out of body experience, and he begins to suspect that the CD holds the key to his sister's death.

Astral Project is a masterfully-crafted glass onion of a mystery -- layer after layer of information is revealed, reflected and distorted by the other layers. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, marginal taps you on the other shoulder and slaps you with a plot twist you never saw coming.

Takeya's artwork also deserves a nod, as it captures the street-level reality of Masahiko's life in Tokyo, the aerial world seen only by the astral travelers, and their inner psychological turmoil as well. By mixing bold brushstrokes, dense crosshatching, elegant lines and computer effects, Takeya conveys different moods, settings and even the personalities of each character.

Astral Project is one of the best new series I've read in a while. It's a compelling suspense story for grown-ups that hooks you in from the first page and leaves you wanting more after the last.

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