Manga: Astral Project
Mangaka: marginal(Story), Syuji Takeya(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen Manga(Germany)
Original Publisher: Enterbrain
Published in: Comic Beam
Price: 7,50€
Released so far: Volume 1
Release Schedule: Volume 2: October, Volume 3: January
Additional Information: marginal is the pen name for Garon Tsuchiya, the creator of Old Boy. On Carlsen’s homepage they say that volume 4 will possibly conclude this series.

Whoever has read Old Boy knows what Garon Tsuchiya is capable of, so after I found out that he’s the brain behind Astral Project I immediately bought the volume. It was one euro more than your regular manga as it came with a really nice looking lacquer cover and had around forty pages more than usual as well.

The manga starts off in a modern day disco with the main protagonist, a young, attractive chap named Masahiko, getting a phone call telling him that his sister died. However the real story doesn’t start until he listens to a CD he finds in his sister’s room. To his surprise the music on the CD causes his spirit or astral form to separate from his body and he starts floating in the air. From that moment, he decides to find out what exactly happened to him and why and if there’s a connection between the death of his sister and his “outer bodily” experiences. A plot mixed between a detective story and paranormal happenings begins to unfold.

Wow, what a great first volume. It really made me forget my surroundings and it was interesting from the start till the end. No stereotypical characters, a main protagonist whom I can identify myself with and despite the fact that he’s good-looking he’s no playboy and seems down to earth, despite him often not being (pun intended).

AP Volume 1

The plot is played out nicely; we get snippets here and there. One puzzle piece joins the other yet we still don’t know of how many pieces the puzzle will consist of in the end. The art worked great with the mysterious and tense storytelling and had consistency, compared to the messiness of, for example, Oh!Great.

The art style actually reminded me a bit of Night Head Genesis (anime); the older brother had a similar appearance to him, but I think it’s more of the theme and some scenes that reminded me of it: the mysterious girl standing in front of the moon and the “diving” scenario also existed, although in an averted way.

The cover design seems crafted with care as well. At first glance it looks rather simple but when you look more carefully you can see all these subtle placed details, like the CD, the heads rising towards his “astral body”, or the houses in the circle.

Story: 7/7 – Good characters, well elaborated plot.
Art: 6+/7 – The way a few heads were drawn occasionally looked strange but I really like how the artist used different types of styles within one volume.
Enjoyment: 7/7 – Has everything: suspense, character, plot, intrigue, very nice art, and a bit of skin for the male eye.
Overall: 7/7

Comment on Carlsen’s release: They did a pretty good job again. Lettering was fine (better than the previous reviewed SAO volume 5), translation was easy to understand and not as vague (see Panini’s Utopia’s Avenger and Egmont’s XS). The only thing I spotted were few editing mistakes on the double page that introduces us to chapter 4.