The story focuses on the exploits of Mars, a mysterious boy found on the uninhabited island Akinoshima by a news reporter. This classic manga series is by the same genius of Tetsujin 28 and Giant Robo.
Here we have 'Mars', an epochal manga composed during the years 1976 and 1977 by the undervalued mangaka Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Yokoyama founded universally popular themes such as the mecha, magi-shoujo, and super-powered ninja manga. A later example of Yokoyama's works, 'Mars' plays as a seemingly highly clichéd mecha sci-fi, portraying an alien boy who has lost his memory who must fight for both his life and the safety of earth, by opposing the "six gods"- alien relics designed to destroy the earth. In truth however, 'Mars' is actually an archetype, a progenitor of its type, and it's influence even extends to spawning three anime adaptations.
trait that undoubtedly increased the attractiveness for adaptation into anime, is the fresh approach Yokoyama takes in 'Mars'. The antagonists in Mars, a group of aliens and powerful relics they utilise (the six gods), are indeed powerful. In the innumerable instances of these antagonists clashing with the human race, inevitably they win. Yokoyama in depth shows us humans being wiped out by these aliens. Whole countries, armies, individuals. This terrifically blasé depiction of human life serves an overarching purpose. As Mars, our eponymous hero, is an alien, he is in the position of assessing humanity as an outsider. Evaluating whether humans even deserve to exist. And it's not an idle question. Reading 'Mars' makes us question the very validity of human society.
While this story had the potential to be drawn out, to last for a good 20 volumes or so, Yokoyama instead has made the decision to be concise with his plot construction, straight to the point. Always presenting elaborate and sometimes exotic settings, calculated story development lets the whole narrative play out in a timely 28 chapters. The incisively foreshortened form does result in Yokoyama's persistent trait of underplaying a characters emotions, however for 'Mars' this performs excellently- ensuring the whole story is captivating. The hints of romance, of sadness, difficulty of comprehension, are things Yokoyama will manage to portray in a single frame. The numerous questions that materialise beneath the surface are all addressed yet not directly so, leading to a somewhat poignant execution. The repetitively enigmatic expressions of the characters also lead to the cohesiveness in adaptation of course.
Artwork in 'Mars' is definitely 70's style. No gekiga or anything of the type, indeed 'Mars' ran in Shonen Champion and was subjected highly to formalised guidelines. However, there's a huge variety in settings, in technical designs, in character designs- and all are executed without fault. Cities, deserts, oceans, robots, all never lose their charm. The panelling and dialogue composition do find themselves almost a little regressive, however it has over time become Yokoyama's highly successful style.
As a whole in 'Mars' it's easy to say characterisation is traded for action and plot advancement, however this truth is not negative for 'Mars'. 'Mars' becomes an entertaining and engaging pot-boiler, containing relevant concerns of the time such as nuclear weaponry, US military interference, the possibility of extra-terrestrial life, and human multiplicity. 'Mars' is yet another fine example of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's prowess as a industry-changing mangaka.