I’m Bored: Astra Lost In Space by Kenta Shinohra (2016)


Kanata no Astra

In 2007, Shonen Jump introduced us mangaka Kenta Shinohara, and his work- Sket Dance, a gag manga about a club that helps people in need, with some serious storylines mixed in (The Happy Rebirthday arc is my favorite moment of the story).

Sket Dance Vol 1 Serialized for 6 years, it reached 32 volumes, has an anime series, some light novels, and even an award in winning the Best Shonen Manga in the Shogakukan. So it is a success in Jump (like any other long running successful Jump series), and after spending a week writing all the chapter in the web, it has become one of my favorites too.

3 years later, his published his next work, curiously, in the Jump Plus App, so let’s hop into space.

Spoilers Ahead.

SynopsisVolume 1

The year is 2061, when space travel is now possible and commercially viable, and the students of Caird High School embark on their Planet Camp.

But soon after Group B5 arrived at their planetary camp site, a mysterious and unforeseen sentient light sphere warps its 9 members into outer space, stranding them 5012 light years away from their home planet.

With the discovery of an old, unmanned spaceship nearby, the students must stay strong, manage their limited resources and remain united in the darkness of space, so that all of them can survive their long and likely perilous trek back home aboard the Astra.

(Source: Batoto)

Currently (right now there’s 44 chapters), the story can be broken down into 5 planets, all anagrams of a keyword that is important on their planet.

Vilavurs [Survival]
– Struggling to work together, listening to their self appointed leader [Kanata, the one in red, and would be the protagonist if Aries, the girl in white wasn’t the one narrating, though this is more of an ensemble cast] whose advice are utterly elementary for them to respect, and some of them still in their gag mode. This planet focuses exclusively on Quiterrie, the older tan girl of the group, who you can call a haughty tsundere who has trouble connecting with people despite being the team’s medic, and on a smaller note, the leader Kanata, who has a strong athletic ability, & decided that he will lead their group.

Shummoor[Mushroom]-After everybody learning that there is a traitor among their group and is willing to murder everybody including the traitor, they found themselves in a planet with birds that you wanna pet and mushrooms that you wanna kill (and then eat due to its nutritional value). The planet focuses on Yun-Hua, a huge girl who has self-esteem issues due to her upbringing, her skills that she can bring is that, she can sing really well…and after a makeup, she got herself relegated to the background cause I. she found herself in a series where people can change immediately after an experience and a talk ii. With the planets (even the dangerous ones) giving everybody beautiful & refreshing moments to oh and ah on, singing is not really an dominant option iii. Aries basically took the role of the morale lifter, and has way more insightful moments than her.

Arispade[Paradise]-A shady moment during the parents’ meeting, with only one expressing doubt whether they can come back home safely, the group themselves found themselves in really awesome resort with no danger from the land, and surprisingly the sea. On their last day in this planet, we learn more about 2 characters. One is their loner turned marksman, Ulgar, who hates people because the only one who cared about him died in a conspiracy. The other is their craftsman, Luca, has a politician as an adopted father (why this develops into good crafting skills, I don’t really know) and has a very unique body that caused him to be not liked in his household.

-Just a day in their next planet, they got themselves in an accident that causes their Astra to be incapable of space flight. Cue, despair in a really despair looking planet. Luckily, they found themselves a similar looking plane, along with a new member, engineer Paulina whom they get her out of cryostasis. With some thinking, they managed to fix their plane, surprising their new member with their ability to work together efficiently despite being teenagers, and got themselves flying again. In this planet, we have pilot/scientist Zack, he is a childhood friend of Quiterrie, and made a promise to her since they were children; Then we have the child Funi, who is supposed to be an extra objective for the group in their space trip, and with some mentioning of Paulina, it triggered an important Wham Episode; Finally, we have engineer Paulina, who started off mysterious when she woke up, and later got everybody reading it confused as her when she saw what is supposed to be Earth, triggering Wham Episode 2.

Galem[Gleam]-With almost everybody being too united (seriously, this is my first time I have seen a group space travel survival series to not have any casualties), the traitor finally make the move of killing them, but since everybody is too united, the traitor is caught, utterly played by their hands, and another set of truths is revealed. Is it biologist Charce, the sparkly good looking guy who has tendencies to be too attracted to life forms? Is it narrator Aries, the big eater claims to memorize everything see saw, and don’t seem to have any sort of connection with everybody else? Is it Beggo, mind reading doll for Funi…is he even necessary to the story at all? Or is it anybody else except for Paulina, whose development is genuine, but is willing to kill people on their order?

Future about the manga: Either it would be ending soon, or the author is willing to continue the story by making them travel to another important planet. The former is likely, since all the revelations are revealed in a quick succession, the traitor and the motives are found, and it’s only one planet left back to their home.

Enjoyment: Quite a fun ride, and its very friendly to read if you want to read a “happy-go-lucky but still takes itself seriously” kind of space series.

Favorite Character: Aries Spring, which is a rare thing since usually her type of clumsy character & big eater can be really annoying, but aside from a dangerous encounter before the trip can even begin, she proved to be surprisingly insightful, this is even before her photographic memorization ability, and her annoying traits are at start are taken to the back seat.

Favorite Planet: Vilavurs, aside from the other planets, which either looks dry or has too many tsunamis to be habitable, this planet is basically a biologist wet dream with the various ecosystems from the way that the author has drawn.

Comment and tell me the additional thing that I’ve missed from reading Lost in Astra, since it has been a few weeks after I read all the chapters in one go.

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