Planetes, vol. 1

Hachimaki has dreamed of being an astronaut his whole life. Right now he’s working a grunt job as an orbital trash collector, circling the moon with his two partners Yuri and Fee to pick up the detritus of years of interplanetary exploration, mining, and commerce. Hachi has his sights set on grander things, however; a long and glorious mission as part of an exploration team, an impressive salary, and eventually a ship of his own.

Hachi begins his time in space as an easygoing guy free of deep thoughts and mysteries, but living together in close proximity onboard their derelict trash collecting ship doesn’t let the three partners keep many secrets from each other. Fee’s craving for forbidden cigarettes leads to entanglement in a deadly terrorist trap, while Yuri’s painful memories of losing his wife in a space travel accident send the group far into the abyss of space and the human psyche. When an injury on the job temporarily grounds Hachi on the Moon before a different kind of accident requires him to return home to his family, Hachi discovers that readjusting to the earthbound world is harder than he expected. It may be that the price Hachi must pay for becoming comfortable in the mechanized loneliness of space is to lose a bit of his humanity, which may in turn jeopardize everything that he cares about.

Yukimura’s artwork is breathtaking, capturing both the vast emptiness of space and the intricate detail of the ships and instruments that travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere. She has an intriguing mastery of facial expressions and moods as well, conveying a range of rapidly changing emotions that add depth to the story. This look at the not-too-distant future not only seems plausible, it also offers an interesting take on how the mingling of the human and the technological affects the pioneers who risk their lives for great discoveries.

Planetes: Volume 1
by Makoto Yukimura
ISBN: 1591822629
Tokyopop, 2003

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