UCHUU KITAAAAA (It’s space time)! While that is the catch phrase for Kamen Rider Fourze it could also double as the motto for Twin Spica. In a time when older anime and manga fans longingly pine for the days when every other anime title seemed to be science fiction related it is nice to see a series that deals with space exploration and science. But it is not a dry examination of the politics and mechanics of space travel but those topics come it. It is a very personal story of one girl’s wish to travel among the stars and the trials and tribulations she must go through to realize her dream.
The flight of the Lion was supposed to be a triumph for the Japanese space program as they launched their first manned space flight. But an accident causes the Lion to crash into a city causing countless casualties that creates an unimaginable stigma on space travel. Years later Asumi Kamogawa wishes to become an astronaut despite the many ways that the Lion disaster has effected her life. She is guided by a mysterious ghost named Mr. Lion who is obviously connected to the crash years ago. But Asumi Kamogawa’s goal is not a simple one. She is not the most ideal candidate physically plus there are many other students who want a place on the next spaceflight but there are only a handful of seats available. On top of that there are many people who just don’t want to see any more time, money, and commitment placed into space travel and will do anything to make sure further flights do not take place. Can Asumi become an astronaut with the deck stacked against her at the same time that all her friends are also her rivals?
The true power of Twin Spica is the fact that it is a soft series that hits as hard as a manly series. The story has a laid back pace that drifts back and forth between the present and the past as the characters must deal with obstacles in both the present and the past to get closer to their dreams at a slow but deliberate pace. But when climaxes come they hit with a powerful punch of majesty and emotional intensity. The series carefully avoids doing into the realm of melodrama that would make it cheesy but retains a sense of optimistic hopefulness balanced with wistful melancholy. All of Asumi friends have their motivations, secrets, and fears that simultaneously bring them closer together and yet keep them apart. It makes for a some complex and mature relationships for the characters. I know some of the supernatural elements of Mr. Lion turn off those who need pure hard sci-fi pumped into their veins but anyone who wants a good story and is not a science fiction purist will see the wonderful story underneath. Twin Spica is a touching story that embraces the dreams of exploration, the joys of scientific discovery, and beauty of personal triumph over adversity. To me that is what some of the best sci-fi does and this is a wonderful example of that.