Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Astral Project, vol. 1

by marginal and Syuji Takeya
Released in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: Jazz that literally produces an out of the body experience.

Masahiko is living in Tokyo doing odd jobs, escorting former idols to prostitution meetings when he learns that his sister has died. Dodging his parents, he returns to his childhood home to get a momento of his sister, and choses to take the unmarked music CD in her player, the last thing she listened to. Once he has returned to Tokyo, listening to the jazz music on the disk, he has an out of the body experience, as his astral form wanders over the city. The rest of the first volume is taken up by Masahiko trying to understand just how his sister died, who else is wandering the astral space over Tokyo and trying to origin of the jazz music on the disk that his sister left behind.

This is a mature title, not for any reason that I can tell in the first volume. Probably the naughty stuff starts kicking in the later volumes, but here we have profoundly isolated character, Masahiko, who can literally float above it all. But as the volume progresses, the mysteries that his sister have left him drive him to interact with others, both in the real world and the astral world. The Japanese fascination with jazz music and musicians also rears it's head, but it is tied into the mystery in a natural way, and provides an additional point of confusion/contention for the characters. The characters' are being pulled out of their normal patterns, and the storyline timebomb dropped at the end of the volume was a good change of direction.

Astral Project, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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