Andromeda Stories Volume 1
by Ryu Mitsuse & Keiko Takemiya
Cover Artist: Keiko Takemiya
Review by Dehanna Bailee
Vertical Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781932234848
Date: 11 September 2007 List Price $11.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Of course, there's what the stars portend and what actually happens -- and nothing is perfect.
Beginning with a bang--the Big Bang to be exact--through the creation of space and time and into a period of great promise with the birth of the Andromeda Galaxy, we are soon introduced to Jimsa and his mother, Lilia, who as he darts off to follow a herd of sand dragons in the pursuit of water, wonders if he truly understands his place in the world.
Recalling back to the day of her preparation for presentation to her future husband and impending king Ithaca, Lilia misses the apparent struggle within her brother, Prince Milan, at losing her to his longtime friend but the emotion fades into the revelry of the crowds as the dignitaries begin to arrive for the grand wedding.
A dark solemn moment while Ithaca's coronation takes place, signaling a new era as, accepting his crown, he becomes Astralta III "during the month when blue Pisces is crossed by a white rainbow," oblivious to the sudden appearance of an alien star on the horizon. The celebrations continue as the new king Astralta turns to Princess Lilia and takes her hand while they recite their vows and wed.
However, not everything is cause for commemoration for an unknown young woman moves effortlessly within the partying throes, observing the merriment with a tinge of sadness as she contemplates the fate of the naive citizens around her. She comes across a contest of strength between Sir Balga and an oaf called Godem. The mismatch causes her to chuckle and the put down elicits a challenge her way. She tactfully declines so Balga presses only to find himself momentarily at the end of her blade before she disappears into the throng.
As night falls, the newly wed young couple embrace each other on the terrace while Lilia's husband swears to secure peace in their realm for evermore as a gift to her. She is touched by his kindness until she suddenly notices the new star high overhead and asks him if he knows anything about it. Not recognizing the danger, he merely tells her he'd have his astronomers look into soon.
Yet could this casual naivety be the beginning of the end for this kindly king and his innocent wife? And just who is the strange young woman that defeated Balga and why did she come so unexpectedly on the eve on the new star's showing? And lastly, what terrible horrors will a simple mechanical insect bring to this peaceful land?
With many familiar themes within the work (man vs. machine, good vs. evil, etc.), this story works well, drawing the reader in and making them at times want to ponder the greater underlying conflicts, not just the tale that's being told. As for the characters, most are strong, self-identifying, and enjoyable even if there were a few that seemed almost pitiable at times--but with a necessary frailty, key to the story's future development.
The artwork definitely had it's strong points with moments of apparent fine hand (such as the detailing Lilia's dress, with some flashbacks scenes, etc.) skillfully intermixed with the expected rougher sketches occasionally needed to keep the story moving at a good pace.
With a story that bodes well for future development, Andromeda Stories Volume 1 is an enjoyable read ideally geared for the thirteen and up crowd that offers readers many entertaining characters interspersed with several various fundamental themes including those of loyalty, deception, and love.