Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the Earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the Earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father's occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu's job treats him to an outsider's view into the various living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.
Dosei Mansion (a.k.a Saturn Apartments) is on the surface just another slice of life with a wacky twist; This time they're in a giant ring surrounding the Earth (the Ring System) because the Earth was turned into a nature preserve. Just on that it doesn't seem like much to follow the every day life of a window cleaner didn't seem all to exciting. That was my attitude going in, and after finishing the manga, I can say that I was totally wrong. Beneath the slice of life guise that Saturn Apartments holds in a beautiful story that all of its readers can relate to.
of Saturn Apartments and the characters within the manga are where this series shines. Even though this is set far in the future, the characters share the same problems and emotions as anyone sitting here reading this review. How the characters grow from the first chapter is beautiful, and Hisae Iwaoka beautifully crafts the character growth in a way that everyone can understand. Overcoming problems like mistrust, social pressures, dreams, hopes, finding yourself and even the social strata of the Ring System.
How down to Earth this series is for being in outer space is phenomenal. A great feel-good manga that speaks to its reader.
Saturn Apartments is a delightful slice of life set in space. It delves into many topics such as equality, class systems, chasing after the unknown, family values, finding yourself and many more. It's about life and how a young boy finds his value in this strange world. The cast are fun and colourful and support his journey as a window washer.
What I enjoyed about this series was how they all live in their world and how there was a class system. How everyone lives for different reasons and they are all trying to find why they are here and what they need to do. It's
particularly interesting because we have a young main character but one of the recurring characters is near retirement and has a wife that is sick and it's nice to see his story as well. There are around 8 characters that all grow and find their purpose in the strange world by the end.
What I wished for more is more of a resolution. Maybe more stories between the window washers and their clients. I thought it could have been a bit more but they hurried into the 'main plot' later on and it became very focused on that. I thought there could have been more to the mystery of the main character's father but they didn't really explain that in the end.
Overall, this is a really cool series and I would recommend it for anyone who likes space, sci-fi, slice of life or someone who just wants something new for a change!
Wanting to take up his fathers career and curious about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, Mitsu takes up a job cleaning the windows of the huge ring like structure orbiting the earth which all humanity now inhabits due to the Earth having been turned into a nature reserve. Mitsu soon finds that his new job enables him to take on an outsiders view on the strange world of Saturn Apartments.
Whilst many parts of the story can’t be argued to be groundbreaking, the way in which Saturn Apartments society is divided holds the story together and makes each new client more interesting. Rather than focusing on
society as a whole Hisae just looks at individuals making it interesting and creating a much more character driven story. She also doesn’t spend to much time explaining parts the world she has created in the narration (Though sometimes Mitsu and other characters do have out of place lines explaining how this world works although they are few and far between), this makes the ring much more mysterious and I found it allowed me to piece details together for myself. However it’s the art work which really brings the story into its own. Hisae’s unique art style gives each panel character. She has also used light and darkness in an ingenious way: the lower levels of the complex are filled with darkness which bring out the despair of many of the characters who live there, the light on the second level gives the impression of hope and immense brightness of the rarely seen upper levels really show the prosperity and wealth belonging to its inhabitants. Hisae’s drawings of space and the Earth itself are all genuinely beautiful and do create a hypnotic sense of aw and beauty reminding me of the reactions to the first photos of Earth that captivated humanity when they were taken in the late sixties.
All of the characters are constantly striving to have more. The vast difference between what those of the lower levels and those of the upper levels want suggests that Hisae is really trying to make a statement on both society’s many social issues and how we can never accept our lives as they are – no matter how privileged.
Whilst Saturn Apartments storyline isn’t groundbreaking its art style is where it really shines and it’s the art style that often makes the book itself more interesting and keeps the pages turning. Overall I would thoroughly recommend this book to any reader who has become tired of the clichés of the average shonen/shojo art style and wants to find something more original and inventive or a reader who has left manga for a while and would like to read something mature but isn’t quite sure what title they should pick up.