Asadora! is the latest manga from the legendary Naoki Urasawa, my favourite mangaka. It follows Asa, a 12 year old girl from a very large family who doesn’t feel noticed, to the point that she’s kidnapped and is convinced her family won’t even notice. She’s kidnapped by Haruo just as 1959 Isewan Typhoon hits, and they end up surviving the flooding because Asa isn’t home. Haruo isn’t a bad person, he’s just down on his luck after loosing jobs and not having a pilots licence, even though he’s a fantastic pilot and a ‘hero of the skies’ from WW2. While he’s robbing a house for food, Asa notices him, and he mistakes her for the doctor’s daughter and kidnaps her thinking it will lead to riches.
Like anything by Naoki Urasawa, Asadora! is a pure page-turner. I sat down to read one chapter, just to make a start, and then I read two volumes back to back. Urasawa is a master storyteller and Asadore lives up to his long line of excellent stories. It’s nowhere near as dark as something like his Monster series, but there’s still hints of the horrible things people are capable of. Asa is a more hopeful character and there is a great sense of positivity in the first two volumes, even with the dark moments mixed in.
For the most part the story in the first two volumes is set in 1959, before time jumps forward to around the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 late in the second volume, with Asa and Haruo trying to help others during the typhoon. It’s perfect historical fiction that had me hooked instantly. Both Asa and Haruo are excellent characters and completely likable, even if Haruo starts as a villain. There are a few side characters that are filled with personality as well. The historical setting is so great that you forget the book starts with a monster attacking Tokyo in 2020, until the final page of the first volume revisit that element of the story.
Asadora! is still ongoing and I can’t wait to read more. At the moment there are five volumes out in the UK. I’ve got the third one waiting to be read and will be picking up volume 4 and 5 pretty soon afterwards. It’s an amazing story with fantastic characters. Well worth reading.
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