And in the end…
Spoilers in paragraphs four through six; if you are worried about seeing them, and so wish to avoid reading altogether, I’ll just say it here: I cannot recommend this series enough. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I strongly urge you to do so.
It was an intensely bittersweet outing, reading Twin Spica volume twelve. It was the end of the line for a series that I’ve come to love intensely; I can’t think of any manga that I followed previously where I pre-ordered the volumes months in advance (granted, this may be a result of the death of Borders, as they stocked the most manga out of the large chains, paired with the fact that Barnes & Noble doesn’t appear to stock it in-store at all). Its a manga where I was actually disappointed when the publisher, Vertical, turned to omnibus editions for the latter volumes, as it meant it’d be ending that much sooner. I was content to have it dragged out.
(I would like to stress that I am not saying ‘Boo, Vertical sucks.’ because I know it was a business decision; sadly, Twin Spica didn’t sell well enough to continue to release in a one-to-one ratio to the Japanese volumes.)
So, for a series that I so dearly loved, does the final volume hold up? Is the ending satisfactory? Was it everything I dreamed of and more?
The final volume of Twin Spica was almost perfect. The conclusion of the cliffhanger at the end of volume eleven is fairly anti-climactic and doesn’t add much to the story – and could’ve accomplished the same effect in a less silly fashion – but, other than that, its an excellent volume. It also effectively avoids having the foregone conclusion, i.e. that Asumi is the one out of her friends who ultimately becomes an astronaut, come off as dull and trite. Sure, we knew this was where it was all headed, yet I didn’t feel cheated by knowing that fact so far in advance.
I was also, quite frankly, thrilled that the conclusion wasn’t Asumi going into space, but went beyond that. I enjoyed watching the other characters figure out what they wanted to do, in particular Kei, who opts to attend college in order to study photography. It seemed so like her to do so; I’m glad we were able to see that happen. I also liked watching Asumi slowly decide that she was interested in becoming a teacher as her ‘civilian’ occupation, transitioning from being part of a two-woman team with Kei educating school children about space to beginning work on an education degree as she awaits the next shuttle trip.
And how could I not mention the discovery of the time capsule by elementary schoolers as Asumi comes on? The note in the capsule talking about how child Asumi wanted to marry Mr. Lion when she was older was sweet.
In the final pages of the volume, we have, once again, our author’s notes in the format of manga. While this format is certainly common in manga, I enjoy Yaginuma’s much more than those of other author’s I read manga of. I like his style of reminiscing in these short pieces; it adds to the overall sense of nostalgia hanging over the entire work. It also gives me this sense of knowing him more than I do some other authors (the only one I would say gets close on this front is Yuna Kagesaki, of Karin fame, although hers skew very humorous as opposed to nostalgic – I would almost recommend reading Karin just for the author’s notes!).
I loved Twin Spica. Loved, loved, loved it. I’m so happy the final volume didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, and proved every bit as awesome as the previous story to this point. I really wish it would get a proper anime adaptation, although I know it never will (there was a twenty episode TV series released before serialization ended; it apparently was okay but not great). Although I have no idea as to the quality or subject, even, of Yaginuma’s newest series, I sincerely hope Vertical will consider picking it up (or maybe another publisher).
In finishing up with Twin Spica, I can’t help but feel a bit of a sense of loss. What on earth will I follow now? I find myself drifting further afield of the manga most commonly published in America (shoujo and shounen), and while I enjoy the single volume series that Viz has brought out that are intended primarily for an adult readership, I’m at a bit of a loss over what multi-volume things I could follow. Perhaps I’ll give House of Five Leaves a try. And, yes, I’ve been getting Wandering Son, but having read almost a dozen volumes of that already, it isn’t quite the same as following a new story a once every few months. Anyone have suggestions for longer-running works? Is House of Five Leaves a worthy read?
In closing, Twin Spica was a top-notch manga, and it easily ranks as one of my favorites ever. I cannot recommend it highly enough.