Saturn Apartments Vol. 2 by Hisae Iwaoka (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 16, 2010 by  


A coming-of-age story about a young man taking on a job as a window washer in space, but also learning about the father he never knew much about. Delightful and entertaining with unique artwork from Hisae Iwaoka, “Saturn Apartments” vol. 2 is recommended!

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

MANGA TITLE: Saturn Apartments Vol. 2 (土星マンション)

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



RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on November 16, 2010

Earth has been abandoned as a nature preserve, and the human race now occupies the Ring System, a gigantic structure that surrounds the planet. Mitsu has just started working as a window washer, a dangerous job that five years earlier led to the loss of his father.

As Mitsu struggles with being the new guy – making mistakes, struggling to keep up, and handling petty workplace resentments – he also discovers the simple pleasures of befriending his coworkers, enjoying time off, and getting to know his absent father through the eyes of his colleagues. All of this is part of growing up in the cramped urban quarters of the Saturn Apartments.

Mitsu continues to gain experience as a window washer and encounter people along the way.

But one day while cleaning windows, he sees a woman collapsing in her living room.  Needing to call help, Mitsu risks his life to rush in to get help and getting depressurization sickness.

Because of his situation, he has time off and through meeting people who knew his deceased father, Mitsu begins to learn about his father from others, that he never knew before.

Find out more about Mitsu and his life experience in the coming-of-age manga series by Hisae Iwaoka, “Saturn Apartments” vol. 2!

What is “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.

In vol. 2, after Mitsu is put on leave due to depressurization sickness after saving an elderly woman, he receives time off and has the opportunity to hang out with friends that his father once hung around as they tell him stories about his father.

And for the very first time, Mitsu learns how his father made an impact on others lives.

Another delightful volume of “Saturn Apartments”, the coming of age manga series continues to feature Mitsu as he gains more experience as a window washer.

But this time around, he learns about the father he never knew much about.  From how his father impacted others lives, how his father made others happy but also how his father risked his life to save someone.

These are all new stories that he never knew about his father and to know his father was a happy and cool individual and to be compared to his father makes him happy.

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. 2 is quite entertaining and is a coming-of age, slice-of-life type of manga series and I can’t wait for vol. 3!

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. 2 is recommended!

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