Saturday, December 30, 2023

Today's read... Robotics; Notes Volume 1 by 5pb and Keiji Asakawa

Today's read is the last one of the year, and while this might not be the most earth-changing, mind-blowing book, it's a direction I haven't hit this year...and looks like it might be tons of fun. Mecha manga has been around...well, a long time (wasn't that an eye-opening, fact-filled statement—haha). But I remember robots flying around, saving the planet from all sorts of monstrous aliens/robots/beasts or whatevers. I even had an action figure or two in this direction. My only action figures. Ever. 

So off we go into the world of robots and see if the future holds exciting imagination to help ring in the upcoming year!

by 5pb
Illustrated by Keiji Asakawa
Udon Entertainment
Young Adult Science Fiction / Manga
356 pages

The year is 2019, Steins;Gate world line "1.048596%". On the island of Tanegashima, augmented reality has exploded in popularity and robots are becoming last year's fad. In danger of being closed, the Chuo Tanegashima High School Robotics Research Club decide on one final project... to build their own GIANT ROBOT!



Enthusiasm, determination, and robotic fun create an entertaining tale with characters to cheer for.

The Chuo Tanegashima High School Robotics Research Club (and yes, that is a mouthful) has long seen its glory days and has dwindled down to a membership of two. Aki and Kai are childhood friends, and since it was Aki's sister who brought the club to its peek, they aren't about to abandon the club completely. Aki is determined to make the club shine again and complete her sister's left project, a gigantic robot, before they graduate in a few months. Kai stays at her side but would rather spend his entire free time playing his favorite video games and letting everything sputter silently to an end when they graduate. Aki really needs his help as well as that of others, but everyone and everything seem to ignore her. But she's not about to give up.

This manga stems from another tale, which I didn't realize when picking it up. Not that it really matters, nor did I look into this to learn more. While it's clear that there is more to this world when reading through these first chapters (just impressions and hints), this story does carry itself from beginning to end. The school setting opens things up, giving readers a chance to get to know Aki and Kai before things really get going. This did create a slower read than I expected, but it wasn't boring, either. Just more emotion and character time than I anticipated. Especially Aki wins over and drives the atmosphere with her contagious and unstoppable enthusiasm—it'd be fun to have a friend like her. It's hard not to root for her every step of the way. Her attitude contrasts sharply with Kai, so much so that I really wasn't sure how they remained the friends they are, but it gives variety and promises enough future character arc to win over. Plus, it builds the platform for the humor, which adds wonderful spark.

The illustrations bring over the scenes nicely . They support the humor with the right flair, while still bringing across the mecha aspects well. There are character summaries tossed in, every now and then, which added background and details to each one as well as a short list and definition of terms, which readers may not have run across before. Even sight fans will, however, know these already.

The second half of the book picks up speed as the robotic end gets a bit more underway as does the contest and such. There are a few secrets which surprise, but it's the character interactions, hopes, dreams, and working together which drive this tale forward. It's full of positive vibes (mostly thanks to Aki) and propels into the rest of the series well

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