Review: Mars (Manga)

Mars, Volume 01
Mars, Volume 01 by Fuyumi Soryo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mars is definitely a series for the ages. It has everything that one could possibly ask for when looking for a great romance manga series, and then some. Whether you are a sucker for gorgeous art, tight-knit plot work, or beautiful characters with dark histories, you will definitely find yourself falling in love with this series before the end of the first volume.

My experience with Fuyumi Soryo began when I picked up her psychological sci-fi series Eternal Sabbath a few years ago. ES was one of the very first manga series that I had ever read and I thought it was amazing. I’m still rather inexperienced when it comes to manga, so when I was ready for a new obsession I decided to focus on the classics. Learning that Soryo was the author for this fan favorite, I just couldn’t help myself.

Mars literally has everything that is needed for a full-bodied romance manga. There is of course heartwarming romance with lush handfuls of racing, bullying, sociopaths, tragic and haunting pasts. We can’t forget murder and child abuse either. If this was any longer than its 15 volumes, I’d have to say that it was quite the decadent little soap opera of manga. But even with such a variety, Soryo manages to execute it all with luxurious fluidity. As everything unravels, you are never once left feeling that things are happening too quickly or too slowly. The pace is in perfect combination with the events that take place.

One of the things that normally bother me about high school lovey manga is how annoyingly immature they can come off at times, filled with whiney kids who complain about the dumbest things. Most of the time, I feel that those series can be rather patronizing or preachy. Even though Mars is about a couple of kids in high school, the lives and obstacles they are faced with are substantially more adult in nature than I was expecting it to be. I went into this filled with skepticism, but by the end of the second volume my doubt had been totally replaced with serious and passionate intrigue. The focus on all of the tough topics is rendered with an air of realism—the tension and suspense—and for me this was one of the characteristics that had me so freaking hooked.

As I said up above, I’m already familiar with Soryo so when I saw her art again I felt a nostalgic glee in my wee little heart. Even though I recognized her style, the utter elegance of it all just blew me away. She gets very detailed but with a delicate and gentle touch. Her clean panels are charming with their simple presentation. Soryo unravels some dark and disturbing elements in her series but it becomes all the more accessible with the diligence of her lovely artwork.

Mars is a superb romantic manga series. Fuyumi Soryo really outdoes herself. It’s beautiful in both story and style, and I recommend this to any fan of manga who is looking for a serious, suspenseful piece of literature. My rating for Mars is easily a full 5.

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