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Space Family Carlvinson, vol. 2, by Yoshitoo Asari, Grade: A
Along with the other manga that I picked up for 80 cents apiece at Book-Off were the next three volumes of Asari's Space Family Carlvinson (SFC). I reviewed vol. 1 back in 2012, and I finally located numbers 2-4. Asari created Lucu Lucu and Wahhaman. However, he originally started out doing the Science Manga for Grade 5, published by Gakken, much of which is being reprinted in the Otona no Kagaku kit mooks, and has been collected into volumes by Gakken. Since I like making the Otona no Kagaku kits, and I like the Lucu Lucu and Carlvinson manga, things kind of dovetail when I can do both at once. Anyway, getting Carlvinson this cheap was a no-brainer.
As mentioned in the vol. 1 review, SFC is a sitcom, albeit a dark-humored one, that revolves around a traveling space-circus that accidently clips another ship and kills the two human adults onboard. The troupe discover an infant girl still alive in with the wreckage, and decide to take on their greatest roles ever - as the family for the girl, named Corona, until she's old enough to return to Earth on her own. Each chapter is more-or-less stand-alone, so there's not a lot of point to summarizing them. Occasionally a specific turning point will arise that does affect later stories, such as Corona getting old enough to start school, or a new recurring character is added to the cast, so by the end of the series, Corona will have grown and changed, as will all the other circus members. The manga ran from 1985 to 1996 in Shonen Captain magazine.
Anata ha Dare? (Who are you?)
It's the beginning of the new year. Dad (the sub-intelligent battle robot) is attempting to figure out how to make mochi, while Mom (the big mouse) wants to entertain her guests with various traditional Japanese games. The festivities are interrupted when a shapechanging carp attempts to mimic Belka (the trigger-happy sheriff) and spits goo on everyone.
Da-ku Zo-n (Dark Zone)
Valentine's Day is coming up, and Dai, one of the 4-legged invaders, has a crush on Parka, the brain-dead insect thing. Dai's partner taunts her over having to make chocolate for a loved one, but none of the invaders knows what chocolate is. Belka helps Dai out by pulling a prank on the other invaders, while Dad goes off on a search for the ultimate chocolate snack (along the lines of a chocolate-coated fish.)
Hitori Botchi no Chikyu-Jin (The Solitude of the Earthling)
Mom realizes that Corona has just turned 5, and convinces the rest of the troupe to set up a preschool for Corona to attend. Also roped in as students are the invaders, and Belka's nemisis, the female demon Raika. Dad keeps trying to dress up as a preschooler, and Mom keeps trying to prevent him from joining the class. The teacher is Nazo no Oneesan (Mysterious Older Sister). (Nazo is either a witch, a demon, or a creature from another dimension. It's a puzzler.)
Ashita wo Sagase (Search for Tomorrow)
Preschool has started, and Nazo wants the "kids" to bring a bento box lunch from home for the next day. Since none of the aliens know what a bento is, this proves to be a challenge. One that is not helped by Dad's attempts to build a bento using an octopus, a crab, jumper cables, a variety of household chemicals and a selection of machine shop tools.
Hissatsu no 0.1byou (0.1 Second Certain Kill)
Dad infiltrates Belka's video game center and eats a number of the game motherboards, turning into the enemies from each of the games. Belka attempts to defeat him before he blows up the planet. Meanwhile, Raika has mail-ordered the top half of a battlesuit in an attempt to beat Belka once and for all. Unfortunately, Raika encounters Dad in full warfare attire and loses this round, too.
Senritsu!! Kaiki Haeotoko tai Kufu no Densou Ningen (Shiver in Fear! The Bizarre Flyman vs. the Dread Facsimile Human)
A warp in space-time messes with the lives of the troupe members during a hot summer day, pitting Mom against a giant watermelon-eating fly. Eventually, the fly merges with Raika, who uses the ability to zip around to pack explosives underneath the sleeping Belka. While the blast does tear her clothes off, Belka is mostly ok afterward. Unfortunately for Raika, the space-time warp closes as she's flying high in the sky, and her normal demon-self is ill-suited for non-powered flight.
Ryouki!! Neji Otoko (Seeking the Bizarre! Rainbow-Man)
Neji-Otoko (Rainbow Man) is the universe's greatest criminal, a master of disguise and a lover of pure evil. He arrives on the planet to continue his crime spree, which starts out a bit rocky when none of the troupe takes him seriously. The worst he can manage is to steal a watermelon from Belka, but Dad steals it back to share with Corona. Neji ultimately ends up as a homeless guy living in a park.
Natsuyama wa Manuke (The Summer Mountain is Stupid)
"Natsuyama" refers to a mountain that people climb during the summer, or the action of climbing said mountain during summer vacation. Nazo takes the preschool class out for a fieldtrip, while using a bivouac training manual as a teaching guide. The children complain of having to hang from the side of a cliff in sleeping bags. At the same time, Mom tries keeping Dad from joining the field trip, unsuccessfully. He gets lost, though, and the chapter ends with him and Turbo (the pet "squirrel") spending the night sleeping on rocks.
Rainichi Kinen (Arrival Commemoration)
John, the creepy alien that disguises itself as a talking dog, is the one that runs the troupe's sole movie theater. He wears a vest with "Carpenter" on the back. One day, the planet is visited by another dog, this one identified as "John Landis" (wearing a "Schlock" shirt). Turns out that John C. used to be a famous movie director, but has retired after a string of box office flops. John L. and John C. had been friends but are now rivals. John L. is in the middle of a slump himself, and is secretly hoping that JC will break him out of it. JC takes up the challenge and directs his greatest flick ever - a horror version of Snow White, complete with chest-bursting scenes and a massive climatic battle. JL calls it "beautiful cinema", while Mom burns all existing reels of the film before the sun can set again.
(Okaa-san = Mom).
Comments: What can I say? I like this manga. Recommended, if you can find it.