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 3: January 2008
Additional Information: Comes with a lacquer cover and ~230 pages.

Today I’m finally able to present you the second volume of the latest work by marginal aka Garon Tsuchiya. It already hit the stores a few weeks ago, but as university started again for me, I had different things to attend to. For those who like seinen manga, but haven’t decided to pick it up, I strongly recommend you do so. Feel free to check out my review of volume 1 here. The people who haven’t read volume 1 yet, be aware that this review might contain spoilerish elements, so refrain from reading if you don’t want any of that.

Once again, Norito Inoue supplied the beautiful cover design; sorry for not mentioning him before. I wasn’t able to find out anything except for what seems to be his website. This volume comes with a nice lacquer cover like before and about 220 pages of actual content. As usual, click on “Read More” for the review.

Volume 1 was concluded with Masahiko meeting the manifestation of an emotion and not an actual person, who dives into the world of spirits. This manifestation is a monster that only exists “up there”, in what you might want to call an “astral world”. Volume 2 does not go into any more detail concerning that monster, but instead picks up the story of the music expert. It then continues to elaborate the reasons and possible explanations for all these happenings and what it may lead to.

Like mentioned above, volume 2 opens up with the music expert, who had been consulted by Masahiko in volume 1. Back then Masahiko tried to find out who composed the pieces of music on his sister’s CD in volume 1. At that time the music expert already offered Masahiko money for this CD and volume 2 underlines that fact. The music expert is portrayed as a greedy businessmen and he wants the CD. He tries to lure in Masahiko by offering even more money, however Masahiko stays firm and declines the offer, yet they exchange mobile numbers, so the chances are high that they’ll meet in the future.

Chapter 10 or “Volume 10”, if you go by the original name, reveals another interesting fact: Misa, the first person he met while being in his astral form, is Zampano’s daughter. It was also Zampano who had invited her to the astral world not too long ago. Masahiko doesn’t need to think long before realizing who invited him: it must’ve been his sister.

The later chapters of volume 2 introduce two very important characters for future development. We also get to see a few more on his family background. I liked the few pages on a past situation where he and his then teenaged sister looked upon a waterfall. Furthermore, the chapters also deal with Misa’s sad past. They tell of the reasons for her journeying and partly explains them. To the list of known artists that have been mentioned before i.e. Albert Ayler, John Coltrane, and Yukio Mishima, the English painter Francis Bacon is added and one of his works will surely play a significant role not only in this volume.

Now to the art…I probably commented enough on the art in my review of volume one, so I’ll try and keep this short. The art stays consistent, meaning it does not get worse in volume 2; it remains disputable if the art gets better, however there still are beautiful illustrated double pages and the illustrator still plays with different styles. The art continues to enhance the role the respective situations and complements them nicely.

The plot impresses me even more than in volume 1 with its increasingly intense story-telling and the magnificent ability of Garon Tsuchiya to come up with new twists without making them feel forced. Volume 2 contains a nice equilibrium of new threads and some others from volume 1 being solved. Hence it leaves enough riddles to wonder about and yet manages to provide the reader with satisfying solutions. In sum, it’s an entertaining volume on a high level.

Story: 9/10 – New characters, new story revelations, new plot twists, but all balanced. It had everything a good story has to have.
Art: 9/10 – Keeps up the quality of volume one and has even more nicely illustrated pages and also flows well with the story.
Enjoyment: 10/10 – I actually liked this even more than volume 1; I can’t await volume 3, but am a bit scared that I’m having too high of expectations.
Overall: 9/10 – Although I try to not seem like a fan boy, I honestly loved this volume…

Comment on Carlsen’s release: Nothing really to say. Nice lacquer cover; it seems to be thinner than volume 1, but that may be due to the fact that I turned those pages so often. I’m just saddened that I never get a dust jacket with the German releases anymore; guess they are too expensive.