Like a ninja kick to the gut.
It seems rather odd to describe anything in a series like Twin Spica as being akin to suddenly being kicked in the gut or suddenly walking into a wall in the dark, but its fully fitting in the final pages of this volume. And, admittedly, I’m still struggling with whether this is a good thing or not – is the surprise of it warranted? Or does it come as a surprise because it was just thrown in for effect and without much build-up? While it isn’t wholly without foreshadowing, well… the end result of the scattered few tiny moments is extremely unexpected.
I also run up against the problem of whether my love for the series thus far may blind me to whether it is, objectively, ‘good’. And then we could get into a discussion of what ‘good’ constitutes, anyway, and then I unravel the whole sweater and then we sit there and wonder where the hell the review of this volume went.
So! We’ll leave that aside. Oh, and vague spoilers for this volume as well as part of the manga solanin.
In Twin Spica Volume Ten, the focus is, essentially, on the maturation of our characters. Certainly, other things happen in the volume (the kids compete against robots designed to do the tasks that astronauts perform, Shu is accepted into the American space program), but what is important here is that our young cast is growing up. And in doing do, they are beginning to confront and accept the simple fact that not all of them are going to make it to space. Marika confesses that her illness will probably prevent her from doing so, while Fuchuya finds himself considering his family’s firework business and what it has meant for him more and more. Even other characters begin to take note of Fuchuya’s seeming lack of personal interest in the space program, realizing that while the others all have a definite dream and internal drive, he seems to just be going through the motions.
At this point, I do not think Fuchuya will go to space. There was a lot of material in this volume about his involvement with fireworks, including a flashback to why he now wears glasses, in which as a child he designed a firework which appeared to be a dud before blowing up in his face. His elder brother tells him he’d be a better fit for the family business during a visit to Yuigahama, his hometown. And he builds a firework again, setting it off in a contemplative mood.
Of course, with the development at the end of the volume, this could very well change.
A lot what happens in the volume, the everyday things, become startlingly tragic in retrospect. Its tempting to assign an atmosphere to these items after the fact that did not exist in the first place. But unlike with solanin, where I knew that a certain character was going to die a few pages prior, there was no such sense here. I expected something bad, that someone was going to be very sick and in the hospital and have their dreams completely crushed, but that they would die came as a complete shock. It literally took my breath away.
I question whether it is a ‘good’ development or not since while I was thoroughly taken off-guard, I feel no emotional reaction to it. This is a pretty bad sign, honestly – I just spent ten volumes with this character, there should be a reaction here other than just surprise. Was it too abrupt? Was the character not developed as well as I had previously thought? Kou Yaginuma has gotten emotional reactions from me in previous volumes, so this isn’t something he’s incapable of doing. What is going on here? Will it sink in better in volume eleven?
I will at least grant this, though – while I’ve always wanted to get my hands on the next volume as soon as I can after finishing a volume, in here the urge was maddening enough that I even considered resorting to scanlations. Bad, Day, bad! But the wait is going to be rather torturous. Add in the fact that Twin Spica’s had regular distribution problems all across its release, and it gets even worse. I am willing to accept that there tends to be a ten day to two week lag time on the street date and when it finally ships to me, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
I’m a bit unsettled about how I ultimately feel about this volume. I like the growth of the characters on display, but the sudden death of one of the characters I have yet to fully digest and process. And there’s also the odd fact that, for some reason, the noses of characters have suddenly become extremely pointy in profile. Its irritating, more than, really, it should be, but its there and it puzzles me. Its a regression in style. Why is it there?
Regardless of any of these negatives or snags, though, I am fully looking forward to volume eleven. If only January would hurry up and get here!