During the initial two volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s manga Asadora!, the author is playing the long game when it comes the mystery of the giant monster (or kaiju) — its tail is the only thing that’s been revealed, as witnessed by Asa and Mr. Kasuga. However, most of the storytelling is about how the two protagonists live their lives after the atrocities of Typhoon Vera in 1959.
The story now takes place in 1964, and the Summer Olympics are approaching. When Asa and Kasuga are approached by an old army buddy of the latter, they are given the chance to hunt down the giant threat that could pose as a threat to the Olympics, which is a celebration of peace and a week away. With their plane chosen as the hunter, Asa and Kasuga must keep this assignment separate from their personal lives and along with a young aspiring biologist, who was mentored by his late professor, they attempt to solve the mystery of the being.
Though there may not be any more of the monster that is revealed – apart from a tiny glimpse on the final page – the story is now more focused on Asa and Kasuga getting involved in the central mystery, which is coinciding with the real events of the 1964 Summer Olympics. Despite the fact-and-fiction approach being a fascinating direction for a story that seems to be verging on science fiction, it’ll be interesting to see how Urasawa continues down that path as the next volume will most likely feature the monster in all its glory.
However, the appeal of the manga continues to be the characters, in particular the two leads, who carry so much of the heart and humor of the story. Considering their rocky beginnings, Asa and Kasuga have basically become a family, which may have its unconventional quirks as they always butt heads on certain things. There is certainly love there, however, and with this dangerous assignment, their relationship might be put to the test. That said, some of the supporting characters are still less interesting — Shota is training to compete at the Olympics whilst working as a newspaper boy, and one of Asa’s two friends has been chosen by an entertainment agency, but hasn’t told the other.
Urasawa’s mangas largely feature talking heads, and so his panel layouts are pretty basic. But there are times when his artistry speaks louder than words, such as in his expressive character designs. He’s not one to draw much action, but when it occurs, it’s still visually striking as in one chapter where Shota makes the daily newspaper drop-off and many pages and panels are devoted to his running, shown through impressive line work.
Although the next volume will most likely be the first confrontation with the Kaiju, there is still a lot to like about this volume thanks to Naoki Urasawa’s artwork and characterization.
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