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Twin Spica Volume 1

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Twin Spica Vol. 1

Twin Spica Vol. 1

© Kou Yaginuma / MEDIA FACTORY Inc.

The Bottom Line

At age 13, Asumi is an aspiring astronaut who has just won a spot at an exclusive space academy. But passing the written exam is only the first of many trials ahead of her, as Asumi must win the trust of her competitive classmates, and overcome her own fears, borne from her tragic childhood.

At first glance, Twin Spica appears to be a cutesy story about a little girl with big dreams. What saves it from being sappy is Yaginuma’s passion for space exploration, his sincere, straightforward storytelling, and Twin Spica’s flawed, but relatable characters. A touching and uplifting read for (almost) all ages.

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Pros

  • A heartfelt story of love and loss, triumph and tragedy that avoids overindulging in sappy sentiment
  • Asumi is driven by her dreams of space exploration, not love or self-centered angst
  • Yaginuma infuses this story with science facts and the real-life risks of space exploration
  • Simple, straightforward artwork that doesn’t get in the way of the story
  • Story unfolds at a steady pace that keeps the reader engaged from the first page to the last

Cons

  • Character designs are somewhat cutesy, which can distract from its deeper emotional content
  • Though tastefully told, Asumi’s mother’s tragic death might be too traumatic for younger readers

Description

  • Original Title: Futatsu no Supika (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Kou Yaginuma
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1934287842
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $13.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: Not rated, but suitable for T – Teens Age 13+ for mild violence, emotional trauma
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: May 2010
    Japan Publication Date: January 2002
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Twin Spica Volume 1

13-year old Asumi is a young girl with a dream: She wants to be an astronaut and see the world from space. A noble aspiration, but also an interesting career choice for a girl who lost her mother to a tragic rocket accident; an event that she remembers because she was a babe in her mother’s arms when the space craft crashed in the middle of a Tokyo suburb.

On top of that, Asumi is small for her age, and her blue-collar family circumstances means that there’s little money to spare to send her to the elite Tokyo Space School. But Asumi’s dreams won’t be denied. She passes the entrance exams, but as Asumi and her classmates soon enough discover, book learning isn’t enough to have the 'right stuff' to go into space.

If you subscribe to the thought that manga needs to be "classified" based on the audience it was originally targeted for in Japan, then Twin Spica is seinen manga, or comics for men. But in the case of Twin Spica, that would be a sad injustice to the teen-friendly, girl-friendly, heck, almost anyone-friendly appeal of this heartwarming, engaging story.

At a time when female comics characters are usually there to be ogled for their “assets” or treated like supporting characters who only live for love, Twin Spica gives us a fascinating, brave and likeable young heroine who doesn’t need a love interest to propel her ambitions – it burns inside her because she craves adventure for its own sake. Asumi is sweet and kind-hearted, but also not a simple girl – why does she hear the call of space exploration so profoundly when her earliest memories are so tragically tied to a horrific rocket crash? And who is this "Lion" boy who prods her along on her path to the stars?

These questions and more keep readers turning the pages, as Yaginuma lets Twin Spica unfold. There’s a soft, lyrical quality to the storytelling that’s punctuated with some heart-wrenching drama and thought-provoking suspense. Before I knew it, I was emotionally invested in Asumi’s quest – will her father support her dreams? Can she gain the trust of her competitive classmates? Will she ever make it into space? If the subsequent volumes are as compelling as this one, I know I'll be sticking around to find out the answers.

Yaginuma’s artwork is cutsey, but it’s also clear and straightforward, making it easy to follow the story and understand the characters. His storytelling also moves along at a steady clip, even in the earlier short stories 2015: Fireworks and Asumi that provided the framework and background for the main Twin Spica stories.

Twin Spica is a rare series that I can recommend to almost any reader, teen or adult, male or female. Why? Simply because it’s a sincerely-told story based on themes that are universally appealing: a young girl’s drive to fulfill her dreams even against the odds, and the enduring power of love, even after heart-wrenching loss. Buy it, read it, and perhaps wistfully remember the dreams you had when you were 13. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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