Orbiting serenely above a long-ago poisoned earth, the last bastion of human civilization is the space colonies. After a terrorist attack, the colonists are forced into exile on the blighted planet below. In the confusion, a young mother is separated from her family and is flung into a bleak, uncertain future... But Sarah will not rest until she finds her children.
Sarah - The Legend of Mother Sarah was published in English by Dark Horse Comics in comic book format, for a total of 24 issues from April 1, 1995 to July 29, 1998. These issues covered the first three story arcs, The Legend of Mother Sarah, City of the Children and City of the Angels. Dark Horse released a compilation of the first 8 issues titled Tunnel Town on March 1, 1996.
This is far from the best known manga, but one of my most loved. And the most lovely, truly legendary feature is the titular heroine, who makes Mad Max look like a poofter and Wonder Woman look like a waif. A mother who will fight through hell to recover her children would be arresting enough. But Sarah's strength is like no other woman in manga, a blend of mighty composure and righteous passion that only Lone Wolf and Cub could exceed. The wartime horrors Sarah endures on her journey are horrific as they are believable, but you'll see the he-men from Fist of the North
Star cry more tears than Mother Sarah.
Sarah's real strength is seen in contrast to 'strong heroines' who hold their trauma in one hand and their emotional rage in the other. Sarah walks right over the abuse she suffers, nothing ever slows her down. No trauma cracks her calm strength, no bitterness taints the heart of a housewife. Who kills giants with her fists. We most definitely glimpse Sarah's buried pain, but she allows nothing to define her except her quest; this is female empowerment, the very essence.
LoMS is very much a war story, and this is again one of the most purposeless, dehumanising and brutal wars in manga. Sarah is in constant convincing danger despite her convincing strength, which is a very admirable balancing act indeed. The story is structured in self contained arcs, touching on themes as diverse as nuclear power and critical views of Mother Teresa (!). The overlying sense of a terrible place that made Akira great comes strongly through the plot and artwork. However, this episodic manga's mostly worthy themes don't come together into a compelling plot so well as in Akira. The conclusion is more of a naturalistic part-resolution than a dramatic climax, and no other character comes close to Sarah's weight class (though her colleague Tsume was memorable for shamelessly Uncle-Tomming his way out of trouble, and similar guile). But despite any flaws, this manga is something very special.