The action continues and the mystery deepens as Shinohara expands the story and focuses on the backstory of a previously-introduced character in the second volume of this new series. In the first volume, readers met the eight high school students and one child on a field trip to space. After a mysterious orb absorbs them, they are somehow transported light years away and are forced to work together to come up with a plan to survive and find their way home.

In the second volume, the students learn that someone may be trying to kill them—and that person may be one of themselves! This discovery is quickly overshadowed by their dangerous landing on the second planet on their way back home. Together they explore it and each tackles the dangers they meet there in their own way. The focus in this book is on shy, quiet Yun-Hua, who feels she has nothing to contribute, but learns otherwise when they are all in great danger. Kanata continues to grow as a leader, and more hints about the mysterious pasts and interests of the other characters are also dropped.

The art continues to be very similar to the first volume; readers will now be familiar with the unique styles of each character and even Yun-Hua’s makeover at the end of the story still leaves her recognizable for future volumes. In several places, the art is blurred and out of focus, but it’s not clear if this is a deliberate choice, since it happens mainly at times when the ship, Astra, is in danger, or if it’s a printing error.

Although the characters retain their characteristic styles, their individual personalities are starting to stand out as they break free of their stereotypes (jock, beautiful mean girl, etc.). Some of the most interesting art in this volume is the sketches of the planet and its unique life-cycle, showing creatures, fungi, plants, and topography in close detail.

One interesting addition that is continued and expanded from the first volume is the additional materials. Not just sketches of characters and their various space equipment, but also pages explaining the life cycle and other science concepts and sketches of the ship and equipment. The second planet has a unique setting and the story is as much a science mystery as an action/adventure tale as the students figure out how the planet functions, compare it to earth’s evolution and draw conclusions to help them survive in this unique environment.

The girls’ bodies are emphasized in their tight-fitting space suits and, especially in funny comic strips at the back, there are several suggestive jokes and scenes. There’s also a brief shower scene; Quitterie is shown only from the back and her main response is indignation that Zack, who accidentally walks in on her, isn’t interested. There is no nudity or overt violence, but the story hints at darker revelations and the brief appearance of a weapon indicates the story may take a darker turn in the future. Teens who like adventure and action manga will be interested in continuing to follow the adventures of these students and look forward eagerly to new revelations in forthcoming volumes.

Astra: Lost in Space, Vol. 2
By Kenta Shinohara
ISBN: 9781421596952
Viz, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: T (Teen)

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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