Asadora !, the review of the first 3 volumes of the new manga by Naoki Urasawa

Asadora !, the review of the first 3 volumes of the new manga by Naoki Urasawa

Asadora !

Planet Manga is the Italian home of the brilliant Naoki Urasawa and the Modenese publisher did not miss an opportunity to present together, in the anthological volume Kushami. Etchù! of which you can find our review, also the new Asadora series! whose serialization began in Japan in 2018 and has currently reached 5 published volumes.

There was obviously great expectation for the return of Naoki Urasawa after the excellent, at times very meta-comic test of Billy Bat net of the fact that the sensei remains one of the most appreciated authors in our country and more generally in all the markets in which the manga has penetrated with a certain capillarity (see France) representing one of the clearest exponents of Japanese comics. 'author and more generally of the genus seinen. What will the brilliant author who recently opened his own youtube channel have in store this time?

Asadora !, the first and volumes: the girl, the nightmare and everything else

Tokyo, 2020. On the eve of the Olympics, the city is on fire. The panic and destruction appear to be caused by a giant creature moving between smoke and flames. Nagoya, 1959. The city is about to be lashed by a violent typhoon. The film Asa Asada is looking for the doctor because her mother is about to give birth to a new brother who will join her already numerous and poor family.

Having accomplished her mission, Asa is ready to go home but around the corner she runs into a man, apparently a thief, who kidnaps her, believing she is the daughter of a rich doctor because of the raincoat she is wearing. While the thief anticipates the lavish blackmail he will ask for in exchange for Asa's release, the little girl tries in every way to explain the misunderstanding in a tragicomic curtain interrupted only by the worsening of the weather conditions.

The strange couple then takes refuge in a container and actually making friends. After the storm, the two come out to discover that much of the port of Nagoya, in the area where Asa lives, has been completely flooded and submerged. Asa obviously intends to find her parents and her brothers and sisters but in those conditions it is absolutely impossible to move around her, but her "kidnapper" comes to her rescue by surprise. Haruo Kasuga, this is the man's name, is in fact a former war veteran aviator.

Retrieved, not without difficulty, an airplane from the small airport near the city, Kasuga and Asa begin to fly over the city. The show is dramatic, the survivors in fact found shelter on the roofs of the houses. The two decide to make more passes over the city throwing food and water, Asa obviously hopes to find her family. But arrived in what was her neighborhood instead of her home there is now only a gigantic footprint!

Fortunately, a few rooftops farther on, some of her brothers and sisters, including the latest arrival, have survived. Asa breathes a sigh of relief and it is at that moment that she realizes that the situation could be much more tragic: a giant tail emerges from the water and suddenly disappears.

Tokyo, 1964. Preparations for the Olympics are underway. Asa has just turned 17 and owns, along with Kasuga, an advertising airline. The economic situation is not the best but at least she and her brothers have something to eat and a roof over their heads. One day, however, an old Kasuga superior shows up in the city showing the two of them a photograph of the same queue seen five years earlier after Typhoon Isewan passed.

Hope is rekindled in Asa. She hopes to find out what that creature is, as Professor Yodogawa is doing in parallel, and with her what was the fate of her family. However, the mysterious man who approached Kasuga has very different intentions.

Naoki Urasawa: between true, plausible and mysterious

One of the most characteristic aspects of Naoki Urasawa's style is the ability to tell a story by breaking it down, in a way as intriguing as it is complex, into multiple temporal lines (and sometimes even spatial ones) in a game of joints and references which, apparently difficult to decipher, ultimately finds its own raison d'etre, which often does not meet the expectations of fans and readers but this is definitely another story.

In Asadora !, the sensei actually uses the same approach but in a more intimate and linear way focusing on the young and tough protagonist who shows a character peperino from the very first pages evolving, already in the third volume, into a curious young woman with healthy principles. But, like all or almost all the protagonists of the author's works, Asa is also obsessed with something, in this specific case the creature and the fate of her family. And it is precisely here that Urasawa pushes and decides to build and exercise more the narrative tension.

The narration is fresh and engaging from the very first bars. The sensei builds the main characters with great skill and simplicity, alternating the traditional sequences in analysis (Kasuga) with effective and fulminating dialogues. It is a triple tension game constructed between true, plausible and mysterious. Against the backdrop of postwar Japan (a period always very stimulating, narratively speaking, for the sensei), historically proven facts and situations are mixed with a rich cast of more or less secondary characters (the young marathon runner Shota or the surly innkeeper Kinuyo) who becomes a lively and vital carousel. In all, the Olympics are perhaps the only constant coordinate and the true element that connects all the time leaps of the three volumes.

Only when we are completely immersed in this slice of real life, the mysterious element he bursts in overwhelmingly, exerting an alienating yet incredibly magnetic charm. Urasawa plays with one of the most characteristic forms of Japanese science fiction imagery as well as with the manifestation of the fear of the atomic holocaust: the kaiju. Leveraging on the mysterious and investigative component (Asadora! Vaguely recalls some passages of Warner Bros. MonsterVerse, especially Kong Skull Island, by construction of this particular narrative vein) the sensei stages the shift of values ​​in post-war Japan, a a nation wounded in pride whose inhabitants, both the youngest and the oldest for diametrically opposed reasons, are constantly looking for balance and certainties.

After the first three volumes also for Asadora !, like all the other works by sensei, it is legitimate to wonder how the narrative strands will reconnect and rejoin and especially when Urasawa decides to make them reunite.

The expressive realism of Naoki Urasawa

The graphic style of Naoki Urasawa has always been aimed at the search for a realism that is never exasperated and always in perfect balance between attention to detail and an intelligibility as immediate as it is enveloping.

The sensei line is characterized by a safe and continuous line in which the use of hatching and half-colors combine to give depth and dynamism to the tables. While seeking a completeness and realism of the environments (and of the technologies of the various airplanes that appear in the three volumes) the tables are never excessively loaded, opting instead for a dosage of the elements (also in terms of size and shape of the squares) such as to make always highlight the main element, where clearly present, the human figure. In fact, we must always remember that Asadora! it is a story of people, even before facts, which the sensei rightly brings to the reader's attention.

Yes, but how? Urasawa, taking advantage of the cleanliness of the line, works on expressiveness and mimicry in a marked way but without ever exceeding the grotesque. On the one hand, this very vibrant expressiveness is achieved by increasing the details of the faces with a few but decisive strokes, on the other hand it allows you to build and give depth to the characters starting from their graphic characterization (see Kinuyo once again). Attention in this sense to how the sensei lingers on the eyes, a true "revealing" anatomical detail in the events.

From the point of view of the construction of the table, even with the skill of an expert author, the sensei opts for one fairly regular scheme dividing the page into three macro areas in which to fit the squares (which are never more than 7/8) in a good alternation of verticality and horizontality. There are obviously exceptions with full-page solutions or larger boxes but, as already mentioned above, everything is always devoted to the maximum intelligibility of the page itself and therefore to a fluent and immersive reading.


Planet Manga opts for a 13 × 18 cm tankobon with dust jacket. Practical choice, thanks to the excellent binding that allows easy reading, and elegant in which the only truly singular aspect is the words, right on the dust jacket, "Novel Serial Comics" which, although it may seem redundant, is a choice well specified by the author. The original title of the work is in fact Renzoku Manga Shōsetsu Asadora !? which translated literally sounds exactly “Asadora serial comic novel!”. Each volume costs € 7.50.

From the point of view of carto-technical care, the edition is impeccable with a white uncoated paper with excellent graphics and good porosity. The choice to keep the color pages where present at the beginning of the chapter is very appreciable. From an editorial point of view, there are no extra contents or Italian editorials. Translation and adaptation are very good and smooth, supported by explanatory notes in the specific tables and very useful for better understanding references to places, facts and people.

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