Manga Monday: Swans In Space

Swans In Space (Volume 1)
Lun Lun Yamamoto

Swans In Space is an energetic manga for kids about an elementary school girl, Corona Hoshino, an overachieving class representative who's nice to everybody.  One day, strange classmate Lan Tsukishima, who's an avid fan of the science-fiction television show Space Patrol, gives Corona a watch from the show and she suddenly finds herself a part of a real-life Space Patrol, reporting to a blue bear who gives her her cosmic assignments.  It's a cute premise, with Corona determined to be successful and whip lazy Lan and her video game-obsessed Instructor into shape.  The adventures that the girls go on aren't very dangerous or scary, but they are pretty entertaining, although this book seems more interested on Corona's home life and how she juggles that with her new secret life, to be honest.  Swans In Space is in full color, making the book very vibrant and perhaps making up for the rather simple, unimpressive art.  I kind of like the simplicity of the art, but without the crazy assortment of colors that make the book overall feel pretty funky and retro, the illustrations (a little retro themselves) would look pretty lackluster after awhile, especially as Yamamoto seems content with holding back on a lot of crazy space stuff, opting for the Space Patrols to clean up spills or perform menial tasks over high-flying adventures.  The swan vehicles are a nice touch, though.  Without that cover featuring the girls driving a swan, I probably wouldn't have given this book a second glance, but it certainly demonstrates that Yamamoto has quite an imagination.  One further weakness of Swans In Space is the dialogue.  It's utterly atrocious.  It's stiff and unnatural, making for a clumsy reading experience overall.  If someone out there is looking for a manga to give their kids, I'd probably gravitate more toward the books put out through Viz's kids line.  The overall wackiness and striking colors of this book will certainly please them, and it's generally a fun story, but this book has a lot of problems, which the full color does not atone for.


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