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|Print List Price:||CDN$ 16.99|
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Saturn Apartments, Vol. 1 Kindle Edition
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|Length: 192 pages|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That is the basic premise of "Saturn Apartments," which sees a future where the entire planet Earth has been set aside as a nature reserve, and the human population has been moved to an artificial enclosed ring system in geosynchronous orbit. The ring itself is split into three levels, the upper level where the wealthy make their homes, the lower level where the poor are, and the middle level which seems to be set aside for public services like schools and hospitals.
The story follows Mitsu, who has just graduated school and is set to replace his father as a window washer for the ring system. This means he suits up in a spacesuit and rappels across the ring-structure until he gets to his client's window, where he washes it. It is a dangerous job, due to the threat of meteorites and running out of air, or even having your lifeline cut as happened to Mitsu's father. Of course, because the window-washing service is expensive, it is almost entirely the upper level that can afford the luxury, while the lower levels survive in only artificial light and no view of the outside world.
"Saturn Apartments" is essentially a "job manga" in the same was as the Science Fiction series Aria, where the story revolves around Mitsu and his various clients and his struggles to fit into the world of his father. There are a few reoccurring characters, like Jin who had been Mitsu's father's partner and now is showing Mitsu the ropes, and Sachi, a girl who lives in a cleaning-machine that perpetually crawls the surface of the ring, as is set up as a possible love interest for Mitsu. But mostly the stories revolve around the quirks of Mitsu's clients, and the various reasons why they shelled out the massive amount of cash required to get their window's cleaned.
The art is, of course, simply beautiful. Iwaoka Hisae is more than just a manga artist but has also achieved recognition as a fine artist, participating in Murakami Takashi's "Tokyo Girls Bravo" exhibition. Her artwork walks the balance between ultra-detailed and simple, with people's faces being little more than round shapes with mouths, eyes and noses dotted in, but then ring-system itself is fully realized and completely believable. Iwaoka definitely subscribes to the "dirty future" style of Science Fiction, where all that machinery and tubes and gears that keeps everyone alive in a hostile environment needs to be maintained by somebody still willing to pull on a worksuit and gets their hands dirty for a low wage.
One odd thing about Iwaoka's art is that it is difficult to tell anyone's age. Her main character Mitsu looks like he just got out of Elementary school and is about nine or ten years old, but then in another seen he is sitting at a bar with Sachi (who looks the same age as Mitsu) getting drunk. Maybe this is the way the world works in the future, but it can be a bit disconcerting not being able to reconcile the character's apparent ages with their behaviours.
But that is the most minor of minor complaints, and all in all "Saturn Apartments" is a satisfying comic. It will be interesting to see if the next volumes are all "Customer of the Week" or if Mitsu, Jin and Sachi's characters and story arcs will be further developed. Either way, I will be on board to see what happens.
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!
Anyway, Mitsu is a window cleaner - he cleans the windows from the outside, while in a spacesuit. Yes, I know, it kind of makes no sense - how would windows in space get dirty? I get the impression that the structure is in the atmosphere, so stuff, like dust, insects, pollen, very likely CAN dirty up the windows. Anyway, he has a very dangerous job waiting for him when he gets out of school. A job his Father had before he died. His Father's death is a major theme of the story so I will not get into it.
Most of the stories are human driven stories, stories about what people want, what they wish for, how they need other humans to live and love and progress. You know, human interest stuff. True, this kind of makes Mitsu a peeking Tom but lets put that to one side and just say that the stories are about the human condition. Oh, and there is a whale in one story and a cat in another. So maybe I should say the animal condition? Earthling condition? The point is it is a very good sci-fi story mostly because its focus is on the CHARACTERS not on the science and setting - which is really kind of solid even with all the nitpicking I did in the review above. I will at least try out the next few books to see where it is going. Mitsu is slowly developing as a character and I want to see where he will end up.
If you liked this may I suggest the manga Planetes, Book 1 or the novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress or even the movie tie-in Moon Zero Two (Signet P4165) which are all sci-fi stories and somewhat hard sci-fi at that. Yes, Saturn Apartments is slightly hard sci-fi, at least to me, which means it is a treasure, a gem among piles of sand. Try it out.
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