[Review] Arisou de NASA Sou – Vol. 1-2 (updated with Vol. 3 thoughts)

arisoude-main

JP title: ありそうでNASA荘

Every once in a while when the moon turns blood red, the stars align and the wolves howl in the night, I do something unlike me and read something dumb and light-hearted. Because even a gourmet eater craves a big, juicy, disgusting hamburger from time to time, right? Right. IN ANY EVENT. I picked up this manga on a whim because the art looked great and the premise sounded wtf enough to pique my curiosity. And… maybe the cover art influenced me too… just a bit… yeah… Anyway, so putting that aside, let’s talk about this dumb, light-hearted, but semi-entertaining manga about a bunch of weirdos doing weird things.

Arisou de NASA Sou introduces itself as a heart-warming “space comedy” with just a bit of ecchi thrown into the mix for good measure, but based on what I read so far, it doesn’t have much to do with space or actual astronaut things, nor is it what I’d call a purely ecchi-focused manga, as the ~lewd~ stuff isn’t horribly over-done, despite what the cover art might make you think. Which actually works in its favor, as it strikes just the right balance.

alice1

Ok, so get this. The basic premise is that two American dudes believe themselves to be aliens, so when they end up coming down to Earth from their Moon base, they do and say all kinds of weird shit because they don’t understand how human society works, as you’d expect. Hijinks ensue. They’re called アリス and エル btw, which would be… Alice and Elle? I’ve no idea why they have female names… Then again, another character is named after a Russian dog, so I guess I’m just gonna roll with it.

Anyway, characters.

Alice and Elle are the two Americans who believe they’re aliens (they think Japanese is the “Earthling” language and that English is their own alien tongue) because they grew up on some abandoned/forgotten Moon base and one day watched a video about a sci-fi movie with aliens, thinking it was the real thing. Yeah, like I said, just roll with it. Alice is aggressive and loud-mouthed but generally not a bad guy. He’s also the least interesting character so far, so I don’t have much to say about him. Elle is basically the happy-go-lucky airhead; the fool to Alice’s straight man. Or the Pinky to his Brain, if Brain was kind of an idiot, too. Ellen generally gets on Alice’s nerves and the two bicker a lot, but the manga was nice enough to throw in a brief bromance scene between the two at the end of Volume 1 to show a more serious side of their relationship.

dog

Belka is a Russian girl (the one with the short, silver hair on Vol 2’s cover) whose backstory is ridiculous but once again, just go with the flow. She’s basically a super soldier who was shot up to the Moon as a kid during the Cold War in order to collect top secret NASA information for Mother Russia. Except by the time she woke up from cryo sleep, the Soviet Union had already crumbled and the war was over. The rest of the world kinda forgot about her, but she’s still adamant on carrying out her mission, completely oblivious to the fact that her country’s no more (or at least the way it was back then).

Her main “enemies” are obviously Alice and Elle since she believes they possess a weapon of mass destruction, so she’s trying to steal it for herself and the Soviet Union to guarantee their victory in the Cold War (that already ended, but y’know…). She’s basically best girl and one of the characters that made this otherwise kinda okay-at-best manga enjoyable. Due to her strict military training and mindset, she’s just as clueless about the real world as the two Americans, which leads to all sorts of… situations. She also befriends a stray dog who becomes her comrade and confidant, which is kind of adorable.

belka back

Kaede is the dark-haired Japanese high school girl on the front cover, who barely makes an appearance in Volume 1. In Volume 2 she’s more prominent as a character and her personal quirks show more, but generally speaking she’s maji tenshi material. There’s another supporting character, a girl called Miru who’s a university student working a part-time job at a book store reading out children stories for little kids. She… kinda gets off on this and reaches orgasm-level satisfaction when the kids applaud her stories and whatever, because it makes her feel like a queen loved and worshiped by her people (aka, the kids). Uh, yeah. Anyway, I won’t spoil what happens next because she’s pretty great and I honestly liked her segments the most, it was probably the only bit in the manga that legit made me laugh out loud.

There’s not much of a story to talk about, because this whole thing about the Soviet Union and a weapon of mass destruction is only there to serve as a justification for all the hijinks. I mean, this is primarily a comedy manga, anyway. The humor has been a mixed bag so far. I really liked Miru’s segments and Belka basically makes every scene she appears in amusing just by being there because her best girl levels are over 9000, but some other jokes just… fell flat, got repetitive, or were plain not funny. More specifically, the majority of Volume 1 is pretty meh, with the exception of maybe Miru’s scene. It’s only in Volume 2 where the characters start to get more interesting and the situations more amusing, so I’m hoping future volumes continue that trend.

kaede-2

The other thing I kinda liked is that the manga sort of manages to restrain itself and not rely *too* heavily on fanservice. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely some titillating content in here and the artist really quite excels at, uh, drawing the female form (both main heroines are quite well-equipped, to say the least), but the lewd stuff is not necessarily the main meat of the manga: it’s more like the quite excellent seasoning.

In the end, if I had to rate this manga just based on Vol. 1 alone, I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but thankfully Vol. 2 kinda manages to get its act together, more or less. It’s full of Belka, so yeah. I’ll probably pick up Vol. 3 when it comes out just for her and potentially more Miru. I don’t expect this to be manga of the decade or anything but I don’t particularly regret getting into it, either. At the very least, the unusual premise of “self-proclaimed alien weirdos vs. Soviet super soldier qt” differentiates it a bit from its more traditional peers.

Update from the future: Volume 3 came out but I can’t be arsed to review it individually so here we go.

belka-volume-3-cover

It’s fairly entertaining and gets lewder than the previous two volumes combined. It should probably be called Belka’s Boobs are Great: The Volume because holy balls she gets plenty of… exposure here. There’s also a new character introduced near the end of the volume (a Chinese pilot twintail girl) and there seems to be signs of a slowly developing Alice x Belka romance. Belka is still incredibly precious, you just want to give her a big hug. We also get a mini story arc about Alice and Elle being weird around a certain Harrifon Sord (guess who that is). My only fear about the manga at the moment is that it devolves too much into a mindless T&A fest but hopefully that doesn’t happen and it still maintains a solid balance between boobs and charming character moments/comedy. The Chinese girl is really adorable but Belka still takes the spotlight to the point where she’s basically the main character. No doubt she’ll get more screen(page) time later on. Speaking of which, the manga needs more Kaede. She’s a fun character too, and I feel maybe the focus has shifted a bit too much to Belka. So, uh, anyway. I guess if you enjoyed Volume 2, then Volume 3 is basically more of the same, just with more tits than usual. I think the Vol 3 cover art, pictured above, should’ve been enough of a hint.

P.S. I eagerly await the inevitable beach episode.

 

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