The Space Between Review [SPOILER]

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    Weaper
    Keymaster

    Where is humanity headed?
    I bring you today a spoiler review of Boichi’s latest oneshot titled The Space Between. A 26 pages long story radically different from Boichi’s most recent manga and closer to the masterpiece that is Hotel.

    Let’s hope to one day see it available in our languages. I really think everybody should be able to read it.

    TL;DR: A look at humanity’s struggle between its survival on earth in the present and space’s infinite potential for the future. What’s the most urgent between the current situation and an uncertain future?

    last-astronautThe story begins with a thought: “Why there are some people who yearn so much for outer space?”. Indeed, why would someone chose the utter silence and overwhelming solitude of the vacuum of space? How can someone willingly leave the warmth of our homeland to cast himself in this hostile environment?

    Heavily rooted in reality, the story takes place in a potential future where NASA got dismantled in 2020 due to economic stagnation. Leaving by 2023 only one privately owned space station named Armstrong and its lone occupant, humanity’s last astronaut

    Humanity's last astronaute

    We follow Ursula Le Guin, newly appointed President of the IS&T company bearing the greatest economic power in history. She and 2 scientists, under the cover of an inspection, arrive to the Armstrong space station determined to bring back to Earth the stubborn and lone astronaut Gregory Benford. Indeed, it’s already been 2 years since IS&T decided to scrap Armstrong and pulled out its researchers. A decision that Benford has opposed ever since then while continuing his researches.

    But why do that? Firstly, after 4 years in a weightless environment, Benford’s health is approaching the limits of what’s needed to live on earth. Little does he cares, he’s determined to have space as final residence. Secondly and more importantly, Armstrong’s maintenance and life support cost IS&T $170 million yearly. A sum that was originally supposed to turn the Amazon into a farm-belt and answer the needs of the overpopulated Earth. Who cares about space development when 5.2 billion are suffering from hunger? What a stubborn old man!

    But Earth is a finite resource, as Benford says “When humanity has no place left to go, space is the only option”

    He’s obviously not there for pleasure. Living in space isn’t easy and the loneliness alone would drive most mad. Ursula wonders why he would go so far to remain here? Still failing to persuade him 4 days later, only one way to settle this was left to the expedition: create a system failure forcing him to come back with them. What could go wrong?

    what could go wrong

    boomWhile Ursula continue to try to persuade and understand Gregory, her colleagues are meddling with some vital equipment. But do they really know what they are doing? Catching a glimpse of them from a separate compartiment, Gregory barely has the time to shout a warning before a spark is ignited, resulting in an explosion killing both scientists on the spot. Ursula and Gregory are barely able to reach a “safe” shelter while the space station, shuttle and escape pods gets destroyed by the chain reaction.

    A rescue operation can be hurried within 12 hours but their shelter itself got damaged and is leaking oxygen. With the air filled with shrapnels and barely 20 min ahead of them, they need to think quick. Their only hope are the EMUs (spacesuit) located in the node ahead? Sadly that area also got destroyed and the EMUs are drifting out of reach, aside from one stuck in the structure, across the vacuum of space…

    With Ursula drifting to unconsciousness, Gregory decide to act. Human can temporarily survive in vacuum even though it results in intense pains. Skin hurts like its on fire, wounds splits open, blood boils, nerves hurts and so on… He decides to bears it all and open the airlock, dragging the unconscious Ursula toward the stuck EMU. Being the first persons to experience space with their own body, he puts her inside the lone spacesuit.

    spaceShe wakes up shortly after, only to see the still alive astronaut gently pushing her away from the station’s remains, drifting in the opposite direction disappearing into Earth’s shadow…



    The story close with IS&T’s president being rescued with Armstrong’s debris illuminating the Mediterranean sky in a “meteor shower”. “Those are debris of space… and Benford…” says Ursula as she remember her savior. She still doesn’t have an answer to her question about space if not that it may just be mankind’s destiny.

    Hope for mankind is still alive as IS&T announce a long-term space development project 4 years after the Armstrong accident…

    THE END

    First left me say that despite all my effort, this spoiler review is far from doing this oneshot justice. It’s a really touching and deep oneshot about mankind’s future and the importance of space development in it. It pictures a potential course of event for our current world where space expeditions have been getting fewer and fewer in the past couple decades.

    This story really remembered me of Hotel by the feelings it convey. Likewise, it forces us to question humanity’s decisions for the future and Boichi does it masterfully thanks to this story opposing two point of views. Should we focus on Earth or Space for our survival? King of a mix between Interstellar and Gravity, taking only the best from each movies.

    The art is different from what Boichi accustomed us in Sun-Ken Rock or Wallman. The lines are thin and precise, fitting the mood of the story perfectly. I really love Boichi’s ability to adapt his art to the needs, it’s most obvious when reading Feed Yumin.

    The character design of Gregory resembles Jirou’s from Wallman while Ursula is a beautiful woman in her thirties. Interesting to note that Gregory Benford and Ursula Le Guin are both names borrowed from existing sci-fi authors.

    I really wish for everybody to one day be able to read this oneshot by Boichi. It address the essential question of the dead end that mankind will come to face while turning its back from the infinite potential of space.

    I hope you liked this spoiler reviews. I’d be happy to read what you though of this story or if you have any question.

    This oneshot is part of 2015′s Grand Jump Premium #3.

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