Astro Baby Begins Publication



Yes yes, talking about two new series in a single week, I’m starved for content and whatnot. I just really fell in love with Moriya’s work on Soloist In A Cage and felt how strongly they wanted to tell their story despite the limitations imposed by health concerns. Because of that, I have very high hopes for Astro Baby, and have been patiently awaiting its release. Thankfully, it’s a simulpub series that you can read on MangaPlus for free, so everyone has the ability to check out the series debut right now. More than wanting to read it, I’d assume that the majority of people reading this post are interested in how good it is. It’s pretty damn good. Really good, and it’s really a testament to Moriya’s startling growth since Soloist In A Cage. Allow me to explain.

Soloist In A Cage is a series that I think any manga fan should read at one point or another. An easy 3 volumes that highlights the almost beyond belief art of Shiro Moriya, it’s a testament to both their biggest strength and weakness. For those that don’t know, Moriya had to take an extended break from the publication of their first manga series, and only came back to finish the work. Soloist In A Cage was “published” for around 3 years, but Moriya was inactive for over a year. Certainly a sour experience as a first time author, but Moriya has bounced back, and learned a great deal from the experience.

Astro Baby is a perfect example of Moriya’s growth and level of maturity, in that sense. Perhaps the easiest example is the sheer detail of the art. Moriya’s beginnings with Soloist In A Cage show incredibly relentless effort and detail. Every panel, every character on each page, is filled to the brim with detail and style. It’s undeniably beautiful, but is ultimately something that caused Moriya to suffer while working on the series. In comparison, Astro Baby certainly retains those highs, but does so in moderation. It’s really such a valuable aspect of longevity for Moriya so I’m incredibly appreciative to find simpler and more plain pages scattered throughout this first chapter.

Truthfully, I don’t think I have to speak on the art all too much to sell readers on Moriya’s abilities. It’s great, it’s fluid, and Moriya has learned to better control their (digital) pen to keep themselves balanced. More interesting than the art is most certainly the narrative. There’s really only one key difference in between Soloist In A Cage and Astro Baby (if you massively overgeneralize the two). Character escapes Slavic-styled walled city, return years later to protect a character from their past. The difference being that Soloist In A Cage is about Chloe returning to save her baby brother, while Astro Baby is about Billy saving Eleanor’s baby.

That idea might turn a lot of people away from the new story, but I promise that they really are worlds apart. For one, the characters have entirely different motives, secondly there’s a clear “end” established, and there’s the strong sci-fi/horror beat in the mix. Astro Baby is very much the love child of Moriya and Soloist In A Cage, but at the same time is putting in more than enough effort to separate itself from its predecessor. It’s an effort that I find deeply admirable and inspiring, quite frankly. I fell in love with Moriya’s art with Soloist In A Cage, and could feel just how desperately they wanted to explore its setting, the characters, the entirety of the series. Even though it’s a vastly different experience from the get-go, I can feel the lingering passions Moriya has for Soloist In A Cage with each turn of the page. It’s an experience that feels like a promise Moriya has made to themselves- to complete the series on their own terms, and to do it well. You can’t ask for all that much more from a mangaka bouncing back from health issues for their second ever series. So, if science fiction with a side of stellar art is your kind of thing, I’d say Astro Baby is well worth keeping an eye on.

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