Twin Spica Volume One is a manga by Kou Yaginuma, and it was published in North America by Vertical, Inc. in 2010. I don’t see a rating printed on this volume, but I would personally recommend this series to manga readers who are 12 or 13 years of age and older.
Twin Spica is set in the year 2024. The main character of the series is a 13-year-old girl named Asumi Kamogawa, who has dreamed of becoming a space pilot since she was very young. At the beginning of the volume, she has just taken the first test to try to become a member of the first class admitted to the Tokyo Space School.
In 2010, when Asumi was a year old, Japan launched its first entirely Japan-made manned spacecraft, which was called “The Lion.” Just 72 seconds after take-off, the liquid fuel in the craft’s boosters caught fire. The Space Center was unable to activate the “flight stop system” that is supposed to explode the rocket in mid-flight, and the ship crashed in the middle of a city; there were many people who were injured or killed. All of the crew members on board the ship were killed. Asumi’s mother was burned very badly in the accident, and she remained in a coma for five years.
Even with this event in her past, Asumi is determined to become a pilot. A ghost of one of the members of the crew of “The Lion” served as a mentor to Asumi, and she has nicknamed him Mr. Lion. Asumi is the only person who can see him.
Over the course of this volume, we see Asumi going through more tests in order to go to the Tokyo Space School. During one of her tests, she is put into a group with two other girls named Kei Oumi and Marika Ukita. Asumi and Kei become friends right away, while Marika is distant from the other two girls.
In addition to the main story, this volume also includes three additional stories: “2015: Fireworks,” “Asumi,” and “Another Spica.” The first two stories are prequel stories that give some background on Asumi, her parents, and Mr. Lion. I really enjoyed these stories, and thought they added more dimension to the story. They also gave me a greater appreciation for these particular characters. The third story, “Another Spica,” was entertaining, but it didn’t really add anything to the actual story of Twin Spica.
It’s interesting to note that Twin Spica was originally serialized in a seinen magazine in Japan, because seinen is aimed at young men. In this first volume, a lot of the story deals with relationships, with a little drama thrown in. Perhaps it’s the science fiction angle of the story that helps to make it a seinen title. With the relationships and drama thrown in, this helps to make this story more accessible to a female audience. In fact, both my 14-year-old daughter and I enjoyed this manga volume, and we want to read more volumes of the series in the future. However, my daughter did have one complaint about this volume, and that was in regards to a couple of panels where Asumi’s father is shown hitting her.
When it came to Twin Spica, not only did I enjoy Yaginuma’s writing style, I also enjoyed his art style. His character designs are very expressive, and this style helps me to care about the characters in the story and what happens to them.
Even though this series was originally published in a magazine for young men, I think this series can be enjoyed by either male or female readers, especially if they have an interest in science fiction.