Mars 15

March 21, 2012

Fuyumi Soryo – Tokyopop – 2003 – 15 volumes

I love that the cover features Kira’s original Mars painting, the one that started the whole series. I’m not sure what I think of it as a painting, but I love that it’s on the cover of the last volume. Very appropriate. I do regret that Kira’s art wasn’t more of a theme throughout the story, but it made for a wonderful first impression.

There’s a little happiness and a little sadness mixed into the last volume, which pretty much reflects Mars as a whole. There’s lots of evidence that Rei and Kira have settled down and know what they want to do with their lives, made their peace, et cetera. There’s a lot of talk about registering for marriage, too. But then, there’s also the fact that Masao is now wandering around free. And it just wouldn’t be Mars if something didn’t happen with Masao that spoiled the peace of the first half of the book.

I felt like the series ended in a good place. Even this last volume, with the Masao story, felt like things were coming back around full circle and repeating themselves, and as much as I liked the drama of Mars, it was starting to wear out its welcome. It’s a lot of the same issues over and over again for 15 volumes. It’s extraordinarily well-handled, so it doesn’t really get stale… but that this came up again in the last volume just goes to show that it was probably ready.

Also, again, I read almost the entire thing in one sitting, so I was probably a little more sensitive to repetition than I usually would be. It really is great, and I doubt it’s something that gets old if you do the rational thing and space volumes apart.

I was a little disappointed with this as the final volume. It does feel like it stops, rather than resolving anything. But then again, Mars has always been a bit more well-grounded than most shoujo romance manga, multiple stabbings, ridiculous forgiveness of sexual abuse, and twin suicides aside. There’s been signs that Rei and Kira are becoming less like melodramatic teenagers and more like adults ready to cope with society for the last few volumes, so it is somehow appropriate that the story simply ends without a tidy bow. There’s never anything quite that neat in real life, anyway.

I feel like I’ve already said everything I want to say about Mars. About how great Soryo’s art is, especially her facial expressions. I wish every shoujo manga used facial expressions the way she does. They say so much without one word of dialogue. It has very sensitive characters. It also does manage to stay relatively grounded among all the dark antics that happen, and somehow fudging the realism on the side of drama works better than, say, holding an unrequited crush for three years. Or maybe it’s just more interesting. It’s also wonderfully paced, and you really can see the characters grow and change over the course of 15 volumes. They learn lessons, and they learn how to be adults.

Most of all, it has Rei and Kira. They stay together and support each other, no matter what happens, and everything that goes down in the story only brings the two together. Even though they both have seemingly impossible dreams, Rei encourages Kira to go to art school after high school to develop her talents, and Kira is the only person that seems to think that racing is good for Rei.

It’s a story that stays with you long after you’ve finished, and I couldn’t be more pleased that I finally picked it up after all these years.

2 Responses to “Mars 15”

  1. And now I want to read it again . . . This summer, I will. I promise. : ) Thanks for the great reviews of the series, and I’m glad you read it and liked it!

  2. Connie Says:

    I loved it! I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews, too. I have to admit, I think I re-read the whole thing three times while I was reviewing it. ^_^; That was one of the reasons it took me so long to finish. I’m glad I did.

    Now I need to tackle the second half of her other series in English. I like Eternal Sabbath a lot too, though not quite as much as Mars.

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