Thirteen year old Asumi Kamogawa dreams of the stars. Now that she has applied to the first class of the Tokyo Space School she feels like her dreams may actually be in reach, but it’s hard to defeat gravity. All around her are memories and ghosts of the suffering caused by a rocket ship tragedy that deeply marked her home town and family. If she can escape the Earth will she escape its ghosts? Does she really want to?
This could very well be a new classic in manga. It even has a timeless art style that looks as much like an 80s manga as a modern book. What makes the book stand out is a mix of melancholy, hope, wonder, and whimsy, so it probably isn’t going to compete with Naruto. Asumi is like many quiet and shy manga protagonists with painful pasts. I think what made me respond to her over the multitude of others is that her sense of earnestness and wanderlust is tied to a very well realized tragic past. Just about everything dealing with plot and character is well realized. All the supporting characters have their own stories and drives and Asumi’s ability to look closer at people allows them to be uncovered. This is a wonderful love letter to friendship, hope, family, exploration, and dreams that never becomes sappy or sentimental. Manga fans looking for something original and heartfelt should give this gem a chance.