Mars- My Most Favoritest Manga

Mars #1 Cover ImageIf I’ve never talked about Fuyumi Soryo’s MARS series before, that’s kind of tragic. And I don’t think I have. And if I have, it’s certainly worth talking about again. So there.

No killer robots. No magic. No enchanted weaponry. No super science. No ancient prophesied destiny.

The only supernatural here, the only destiny, is true love. Because Mars is pure high school romantic drama. And lots of it.

Not that I have anything against killer robots, etc. It’s just, as you know, I LOVE me some teen melodrama.

This 15 volume series begins when Rei interrupts Kira as she’s sketching in a park to ask directions to the Medical Center. Without saying a word, she draws him a map, thrusts it at him, and walks away. Back at her house, clearly annoyed, she reveals to her mother that she’s just had a run in with someone she doesn’t like, who is so oblivious to her that he probably doesn’t even realize they go to the same school. And any way, he’s a bad boy who smokes behind the teachers’ backs “and that kind of stuff.” (Oh yeah, the bad-boy stuff.)

Rei goes on to visit his friend who has lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, and reveals a little more about himself, his capacity to care about his friends, his own penchant for danger, his casual belief that no one really cares what happens to him. While there, he also discovers a drawing on the back of his map and is intrigued by it.

In school the next day, he recognizes Kira as the artist from the park. She doesn’t seem to want anything to do with him, but he’s not the sort to let that deter him, once he’s intrigued. His genuine admiration of her artwork surprises her, makes her pause long enough to give him a chance to start charming her, and to rescue her from a bad situation at school. The drama escalates when Rei’s attention to Kira gets her on the bad side of a violent classmate who is desperate for Rei to notice her.

I don’t think you can talk merely about what happens in the story and convey what it’s like to read it. It’s very character driven, and much of the emotion in the story is carried by the art and the characters’ thoughts. Even from this first volume, the relationship between them is heartrendingly sweet. As the series unfolds, it goes deeper into both characters, showing us a perfect fit and how much they need to be together. The whole thing is basically this big, dramatic, love-story wish fulfilled.

I can’t say enough about how much I love this series.

The books are black and white, about 200 pages long, and each takes only a few hours to read. If you haven’t read manga before, it will take a little getting used to, a little effort at first to follow the flow of the pictures and dialogue, and to get used to reading from right to left. This is a wonderful series, however, for showing off what manga does so well: the marrying of art with story. It’s a great example of how, unlike many American comics, manga isn’t bound to right-angled frames. The images are often splashed over the page, drawn within shapes, floating hazily in the background, working with and enhancing the experience of the story.

I’ve really got to encourage you to give this one a try, especially if you have that lust for character-driven melodrama (teen soap) that I do. There are many used copies available on Amazon, many for $0.01 plus shipping, or about $4. Get the first one, see what you think.

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8 Comments

Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

8 responses to “Mars- My Most Favoritest Manga

  1. I haven’t sat down and read any manga in a long time (something I observed as I moved all my copies up for the recent move), but Mars has always intrigued me. The art looks so divine! I’ve fallen so behind on manga from when I used to keep up on it pretty regularly, so maybe this one isn’t a bad one to start getting back into reading them again.

    Thanks for the reminder of some of the things I’ve been interesting but have let fall to the wayside! Although I think I hear my poor pained wallet groaning at the thought of me getting back into this particular habit. XD

    • OMG WHYYYY is it so expensive?? I would love to see this stuff go digital at affordable prices because I think that’s really keeping it’s awesomeness back from exploding in popularity.

  2. I have never even heard of manga – interesting! I’ll definitely have to give it a try. I suddently feel…sheltered. LOL!
    Happy weekend!

    • I got into manga because, for a while, I was collecting a lot of dolls from Asia and the people I was hanging out with on the forums were all into manga and anime. I lead an otherwise sheltered, even clueless life with no pretensions to coolness.

  3. Ooh thanks for the rec! I love manga :3 I used to read it all the time, but I just have fallen out of the loop. XD I need to get back into it! I’m def gonna have to look into Mars though 🙂 (And might I suggest Ayashi no Ceres as a recommendation if you’ve never read it before? Probably -my- favorite manga/anime ever. XD)

  4. After I read this I checked the events at Comic Con to see if the author would be attending, but he wasn’t. Too bad. You would’ve had an autograph being sent to you.

    Nice review, Mars sounds pretty cool.

    • Someone commented on my other blog (my older, personal blog into which I feed this one) that she absolutely hates this series on the basis that Kira’s parents are horrible and Kira herself can be a bit of a dishrag. Valid points, although of course I liked the horrible stuff going on because it drove Kira away from home and toward Rei (at least in some ways). Which was good; he needs to be needed and it allows him to find the softer, caretaking side of his sometimes punk-ass self. But yeah, readers with an aversion to girls who tend to play the damsel might want to beware. I wouldn’t want to write my girls this way, but I still enjoy reading them.

      Another one I want to get back into reading is Fushigi Yugi. When I first picked it up I could not put it down. Then I hit a point where I could and didn’t go back.

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