REVIEW: Five Star Stories #1 (1989)

A manga by Mamoru Nagano

I have owned this apparently insanely rare manga volume for like twenty years, and for whatever reason, I have yet to ever read it. I re-discovered it in a stack of Dungeons and Dragons books I once bought on discount at my old job (like fifteen years ago!), and somehow this stayed sealed away. This is a shame because I love old manga, and especially old mecha-related manga from the 80’s and 90’s, glad I can read it now. Fans of things like Escaflowne, Legend of the Galactic Heroes or even Dragon’s Heaven (which I previously reviewed on here) would absolutely love this.

I won’t pretend I’m totally unaware of this comic, because as a fan of scale modeling, and especially Gunpla kits. Various FFS scale model kits were all over message boards at the time, and as a mere novice, just seeing them was intimidating. I’m fairly certain I bought this because it was in the discount bin, and I wanted to see where that stuff came from. It’s a shame I won’t be able to get more volumes of this as volume one, for example, is listed on Amazon for like 400 dollars! I’m sure I will easily be able to find the rest “by other means”, but the large format, almost magazine styled, book is gorgeous. This was published by a company called Toyspress in 2002, and it must have not done well because I don’t see anything else from this company online. It’s a true shame because if released today, this would likely do well on a publisher like Vertical or another prestige format importer. Classic manga is en vogue now, and this was released like ten years too early.

“Available for the first time in English! First appearing in New Type in 1986, this series continues into the new millennium. It’s the Joker calendar year J.C. 2988. One of the Galaxy’s most prestigious fatima meights, Dr. Clotho – only to have to thake them into custody by the local lord! He is a depraved upstart merchant by the name of Grand Duke Juba Bardiam, and he coverts the tow fatimas to satisfy his outlandish lecheries. Ballanche has no one to turn to for help, but his longtime friend Ladios Sopp to save his two daughters from Juba’s slimy clutches.”

This is a VERY short book, only around 79 pages with a portion being an index that shows how much crazy world-building Mamoru Nagano did before publishing this. That said, the manga is still a real treat – a fest for the eyes in almost every way, an interesting setting, and beautiful mechanical and character designs. They definitely don’t make manga like this anymore, and it’s a hell of a shame. The plot can be confusing as the narrative jumps around on a fairly huge timeline, but the majority of this volume is the beginning of the adventures of Ladios Sopp, a very feminine-looking young man that appears to be investigating the Fatimas – artificial women that help pilot huge mechs called Mortar Heads. This book doesn’t go into great detail here, but he’s actually basically the Emperor of a whole star system in disguise, so I wonder how that plays out!?

My goal is to find a way to read more of this, and encourage any of you that are into mecha manga to seek this out. This is a nigh forgotten treasure that needs a new generation of eyes on it, because it’s solid quality-wise. I’m just sad I came to this so late, but as the old adage says – it’s better late than never!

2 comments

  1. I’ve been meaning to read FSS, I didn’t realize they published an english translation, I always figured it was too niche for that. Lucky find grabbing that with a bunch of D&D books.

    Liked by 1 person

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