Vol. 4 of this series that’s ostensibly about kids training to be astronauts begins with a scene of something that’s been in woefully short supply. We get to see Asumi, Kei and Marika actually training to be astronauts! The scene of them trying to move in a giant pool of water in their space suits feels believable and showcases some of the ugly truths about what it takes to wear the suit (in Kei’s case -- you know that’s someone’s fetish). Later on, we get to see them take a ride in the “vomit comet” and experience weightlessness (and airsickness) for the very first time. It’s a refreshing change from having the characters talk and angst about their lives and I wish that we’d get more of this in the series.
However, it’s become clear that this will never be the series I want it to be. Mangaka Kou Yaginuma doesn’t really have an interest in detailing what it takes for kids to become astronauts from a scientific perspective. This is solidly a character drama that merely has a science fiction-y setting as a backdrop. Had I realized this earlier, I would’ve saved myself a lot of grief. As for whether or not I’ll keep reading this, I figure I’ll see it through to the end. Even though I’ve had my issues with the “magical realism” bits involving Mr. Lion, there’s no denying that his encounter with his dad on the river Sanzu is truly moving. I’m also curious to see where this business with Makita and her dad is going as well. Still, this is a series more for kids, as opposed to “kids of all ages.”