Jan 24, 2014
"U wa Uchuusen no U" is a collection of eight Ray Bradbury stories adapted into manga by Hagio Moto.
The late Mr Bradbury's name is easily recognisable even among those who aren't fans of anime and manga - he was the science fiction writer best known for the novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. I learned while looking up facts for this review that Ms Hagio is considered one of the "founding mothers" of shoujo manga, but this is the first of her works that I've read. That said, based on the strength of this collection, I'm interested in reading more of her stuff.
Though I haven't read all of his works, I consider myself a fan of Ray Bradbury. Of the eight stories in this collection, I've read three: the ones that appear in the 1962 short story collection "R is for Rocket". As an adaptation of the original short stories, this manga is very faithful. I dug out my old copy of "R is for Rocket" to compare, and the dialogue is (taking into account variations in translation) taken nearly word-for-word from the short stories. And since they're excellent stories written by one of the greatest sci-fi writers of all time, this collection scores high in this aspect.
What I've always loved about Bradbury's work is that he can be nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. Many of his stories are odes to sleepy American towns much like the one he grew up in and was very fond of, but at the same time, he also loved to play with the new ideas and possibilities given to him by science and technology. "R is for Rocket", the first story in the collection, is a perfect example of this, and for that reason I believe it's the strongest of the eight chapters.
The only negative I can name is that I think "Come into My Cellar" – a story about alien invasions and mushrooms – is the weakest of the eight. I can think of at least five other Bradbury stories that would make for better manga. ("There Will Come Soft Rains", anyone?)
This was drawn by a shoujo mangaka in the 70s, and it shows. A few may be put off by the "old" art style, but honestly, this manga is gorgeous – interesting page layouts, and backgrounds that are far more detailed than you usually see in modern shoujo manga ... it's just plain well-drawn. And actually, the fact that the art style is perceived as somewhat dated now actually adds to the nostalgic charm I get from Bradbury's stories.
If you're a fan of Ray Bradbury, read this. You'll enjoy seeing the stories you're familiar with so beautifully illustrated.
If, like many schoolkids, the only one of Ray Bradbury's works you know is Fahrenheit 451 because you were forced to read it at school, read this, and then look for more of Ray Bradbury's stuff at your local library or bookstore if the stories told here interest you at all.
And even if you have no idea who the hell Ray Bradbury is, read this anyway. The bottom line is: these are beautiful, poignant short stories by a sci-fi legend, illustrated by one of the greats of the manga world. Definitely worth your time.
[notes: This collection adapts eight of Mr Bradbury's stories: "R is for Rocket", "The Fog Horn", and "The Rocket Man" originally appeared in the short story collection "R is for Rocket" (1962), "Come into My Cellar" and "The Screaming Woman" are from "S is for Space" (1966), while "Jack in the Box", "The Lake" and "The Homecoming" are from "Dark Carnival" (1947).]
What did you think of this review?