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Saturn Apartments Vol. 1 by Hisae Iwaoka (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 18, 2010 by  



saturn-1

A futuristic tale about a young man named Mitsu making a transition from being a student to having career and meeting different people through his job but also learning more about his deceased father who died doing the same job.  Delightful and entertaining with unique artwork from Hisae Iwaoka, “Saturn Apartments” vol. 1 is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2007 by Toshiaki Iwashiro. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Saturn Apartments Vol. 1 (土星マンション)

STORY AND ART BY: Hisae Iwaoka (岩岡ヒサエ)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Viz Signature/VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on May 18, 2010

Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the Ring System is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status.

 

Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. Five years after his father disappeared and was assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father’s occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu’s job treats him to an outsider’s view into the living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.

From Hisae Iwaoka, the mangaka for “Hana Boro”, “Shiroi Kumo” and “Yume no Soko” comes “Dosei Mansion”, a seven volume manga series which was serialized in Shogakukan’s manga magazine “Ikki” from 2005 to 2011.

And now “Dosei Mansion” with the new title “Saturn Apartments” will be released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media.

“Saturn Apartments” is set in the future where a man-made structure is circling the Earth.  The structure, a huge apartment complex which is divided into upper, middle and lower levels and where humanity now survives, while the Earth has been declared a nature preserve.

While the humans who live in the structure are separated by class depending on their jobs.  And like the financial classes in humanity, the rich are the upper class while the poor are the lower class.

The manga is focused on the main protagonist named Mitsu.  A lower level older teen who has been raised by friends of the family, after his father, an outer space window washer apparently died.  All that was found was a cut rope and so for all these years, Mitsu thought that his father had tried to kill himself in order to fall down back to Earth.

As a new college graduate, Mitsu has become a professional window washer.

On the first day of the job, he is paired up with the older Jin, a man who had worked and was good friends with Mitsu’s father.  But Jin is alarmed when he found out that his son thinks his father had committed suicide.

Their first job together is a request from the lower level and that is to clean the windows for a new couple who are getting married.  What Mitsu doesn’t know is the spot that he will be working at is where his father was killed and when he goes  out to the same location, he not only sees the spot where his father had died but a sharp metal sticking out and handprints on the outside.

For the first time, Mitsu learns that the harsh wind conditions in outer space combined with the sharp metal, severed his father’s rope and he died from it.

While working with Jin, Mitsu wants to begin his new life as an adult, paying for his food and not having others taking care of him any longer, as he feels it is time for him to start paying for expenses.  He also starts to learn through his job of the kind of people who live in the various levels of the apartment complex, but those at work who despise him because he was treated special because of his father and after his father’s death.

As Mitsu starts to take on more jobs, he learns about the risks of being an outer space window washer but also coming into contact with people of different status, living in different levels, on the job.

For the first volume of “Saturn Apartments”, the storyline has been fascinating and delightful.

While one can describe the manga as a slice of life manga set in the future, about a young man’s job as an outer space window washer, it’s more about his life as a young adult and the transition from being a student and now earning money in a risky job.

But through his job, he learns about the various classes in the apartment complex but also meeting people who eventually befriend Mitsu, because of his naivety of the different classes but he is someone wanting to help people and listen to them.

But the more he works in the job and meets people of different status, he meets those who have worked with his father and starts to learn how his father made an impact on other people’s lives as well.

The artwork by Hisae Kwaoka is rather unique as characters are drawn with a different style than any manga you will read.  It’s hard to describe, but it’s a unique style that Hisae Iwaoka is known for and it’s great to have something different art-wise than other mangaka out there.  She really distinguishes herself from other artists.  Her writing so far for vol. 1 is quite entertaining and seems to be a coming-of age, slice-of-life type of manga series and I can’t wait for vol. 2!

A futuristic tale about a young man named Mitsu making a transition from being a student to having career and meeting different people through his job but also learning more about his deceased father who died doing the same job.  Delightful and entertaining with unique artwork from Hisae Iwaoka, “Saturn Apartments” vol. 1 is recommended!

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