By Leroy Douresseaux
May 26, 2010 - 20:09
|Saturn Apartments Volume 1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T” for “Teen”
In the future, humanity abandons the earth in order to preserve it, and no one is allowed to return to the surface of the planet because it is now a nature preserve. People live in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the earth, 35 kilometers in the sky – in the stratosphere. The ring is a huge apartment complex, and even this kind of apartment complex needs window washers. This is the story of the newest window washer, Mitsu.
In Saturn Apartments, Vol. 1, Mitsu, the son of a window washer who died on the job in a mysterious accident, graduates from junior high school. Mitsu, an orphan, decides to take on his father’s occupation. He struggles with the transition to working life, but Jin, a veteran window washer who knew his father, becomes Mitsu’s partner. Not all of his new coworkers are thrilled with Mitsu, however, and some consider him to be pampered. Mitsu does make some interesting acquaintances, including a damage inspector named Sachi and her rambunctious cat, Miyuki.
THE LOWDOWN: After only one volume, it is too early to give a hard grade to Saturn Apartments, which isn’t the best title for this series. For a science fiction narrative, it has a surprisingly whimsical nature and a natural inquisitiveness about it. Hisae Iwaoka’s graphic storytelling reminds me of 1970s and 80s era Moebius and also Kozue Amano’s graphic storytelling in the manga, Aqua.
I suspect that future storylines will deal with class issues. The ring is a highly-stratified social structure and is divided into three levels: upper, middle, and lower. Lowly window washers and other poor folk live on the lower level, where the windows are rarely cleaned because of the danger involved in cleaning them. In spite of its soft beginning, I hope that Saturn Apartments will feature ambitious storytelling.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: A VIZ Signature title, Saturn Apartments is rated for teen readers, but even younger readers may identify with Mitsu and enjoy following him.