ST&RS Manga Quarterly Review
Man, was that entertaining.
ST&RS (pronounced: ‘stairs’) is definitely the manga I most look forward to each week. Even though I look more forward (aren’t I so… forward-thinking) to the conclusion of arcs in Kaminomi or the introduction of new abilities on One Piece, both drag on too long without anything happening. In contrast, ST&RS has introduced all its main characters, have them enrol in a space academy, build Apollo 13 while BLINDFOLDED, walk with remote-controlled robots… ON THE MOON, walk underwater… FOR FIFTY KILOMETRES WITHOUT FULL AIR TANKS, and have GIANT CHAIRS APPEAR OUT OF NOWHERE ON MARS. FUCKING MARS. Meanwhile, look at what has happened in Bleach for the past 40 chapters. Aizen died and then NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL. Man, Bleach would’ve gotten like a 9/10 because of its immersive universe but that thing goes on FOREVER.
The plot is basically this: Shirafune Maho, the main character, said his first word at the exact same time when ALIENS SENT A MESSAGE TO EARTH. The aliens’ message was encrypted and nobody could decrypt it except for one word, ‘child’, but the aliens sent a second message that was later decrypted to read ‘let’s meet on Mars in 2035’, which is in sixteen years because it is now 2019. The person that discovered the message was a ten-year-old university graduate, Fifi Collins.
Thus, the United Nations completely revamp the entire space industry and everybody wants to set out into space so massive piles of funding etc. They rename their space program to ‘ST&RS’ (stairs to space), and three years later, in 2022, humans again set foot on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program.
14 years later, Maho is now 15 and there are two more years until people must reach Mars. He meets a honours transfer student, Amachi Wataru. Wataru’s dad was a super stern doctor, but one day, Wataru met an astronaut colleague of his dad who made medicine out in SPACE, who was SUPER COOL and AMERICAN and like wore 60s clothing and disco’d. Wataru subconsciously wants to become a doctor like his father, but he also wants to be SUPER COOL, so he decided to become an astronaut. They decide to apply to the ST&RS Training Academy to start stairs training, and Maho’s childhood friend, Hoshihara Meguru, tags along for the ride, even though she knows absolutely nothing about space.
Now kids, sex in space is not as fun as you might think it would be
At the Japanese ST&RS Academy, Fifi Collins is the principal for some reason, even though she’s American and Americanusu no speaku Japanesu desu. They undergo RIGOROUS TESTS and EXAMINATIONS, and save these two American astronauts from dying on a moon crater by using remote-controlled robots. Yes, really, I’m not lying. The thing about ST&RS is that it even takes into consideration the delay in radio signals due to the distance between the Earth and the moon, so controlling a robot on the moon is considerably harder than you’d expect. However, the story doesn’t really explain why they have to rescue them out of a crater in a limited amount of time. Apparently they somehow ‘know’ exactly when the crater collapses… so why didn’t they avoid the crater in the first place?!
Anyways, our main characters meet various other students who wish to join the academy, such as a trio of three Russiansu fuu oruso kanuto supiiku da Nihongo desu.
Their final practical test is a 50 km walk in a SUBTERRANEAN SEA. It’s an ‘individual’ test, but it’s actually a teamwork test. Why? Because one person in each group’s air tanks are only half full, thus requiring the group to link their air tanks together to successfully pass. While some people do just that, our main characters have a better idea – they get grass… THAT PHOTOSYNTHESIS, THUS PRODUCING OXYGEN. Man, even if the plot point came from nowhere (would’ve been better if a few chapters back, they said: ‘Well, this is an underground lake where we try to produce plants that will be useful on Mars, so they’ll have increased photosynthesis capabilities.’), it was still an awesome twist. Even if they did introduce the plot point earlier, I’m pretty sure I would not have actually thought to use the grass in a practical examination.
“I never thought crash-landing on the moon would be this fast!”
The main problem I have with ST&RS is its planning, like all other Shounen Jump series. The author is not planning in advance at all. In the first chapter, there were these two REALLY COOL PEOPLE that were given ENTIRE FRAMES, but they don’t reappear at all. Each examination feels oddly separate from each other, like Fifi’s making them up on the way, which can’t be true because the logistics would be a nightmare.
You have Meguru, who knows absolutely nothing about space – yet, she gets high marks on the written tests? The Academy is inviting people of all ages from all parts of the world to become an astronaut, but everybody who applies is just a high school student? There are somehow enough rooms for ALL of the applicants to build an Apollo spacecraft?
More importantly, why was Fifi at the Japanese academy in the first place? She didn’t know of Maho’s ‘specialness’ until after he applied to the academy. Why is Usubaru, the Japanese dude, at Kennedy Space Centre, in America? Why don’t they switch places? One possible explanation is that Fifi hates her sister who hates her sister who hates her sister who hates her sister.
The characters are Shounen Jump clichés. Maho is the main guy who’s smart, but not intelligent. He seems like an idiot to everybody else, but he secretly is very good at one subject, space. He’s bad at communicating his ideas, and goes by gut feeling – however, his gut feelings are often correct, as he often has stomach problems that transfer to his gut. Wataru’s the guy who’s exact and precise and scientific because of a STERN ASIAN FATHER. He wants to become SOCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLL, soninthefuture. Meguru’s the clumsy girl who isn’t nerdy and is Maho’s childhood friend. Seriously, this is true for like every Jump series. Naruto (Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura), Bleach (Ichigo, Ishida, Inoue), Beelzebub (Oga, Takayaki, Aoi). Oh well, I made a post about ST&RS and Shounen Jump, so I’m not going to repeat what I said earlier.
tl;dr: WHY ARE ALL AMERICAN PRESIDENTS IN THE FUTURE SUDDENLY BLACK