Manga Review

Review: MARS

MARS by Fuyumi Soryo


Continuing in my “out of print but now digital” two-parter, up next is MARS. I’ve seen MARS described as both the show shoujo and josei manga but I’ll leave it up to you readers on what you feel. MARS is 15 volumes long and deals with a lot of heavy topics like mental illness, sexual assault, bullying, murder, and suicide. 

MARS is about high schoolers Kira and Rei. Kira is a shy artist who avoids contact with boys. Rei is a popular playboy who’s dated many of the girls at school. Rei’s only goal in life is to be a motorcycle racer and he cares little for school. He’s only there because of his father. Rei first “meets” Kira when he sees her out at a park and asks for directions to the hospital. She silently draws him a map and walks away. He’s intrigued by the drawing he found on the other side of the paper.

Rei tracks her down and saves her from being sexually assaulted by the high school art teacher. As a thank you, Kira asks Rei to model for her and he agrees. What follows is a complicated story of first loves where they both have secrets buried deep down. Along the way Kira has to deal with rivals for Rei’s affection, her mother being hospitalized for a month, and an old “friend” of Rei’s who’s way more dangerous than he appears. Are Rei’s childhood memories real? Why does he rebel so much? And why does Kira avoid boys as if her life depends on it?

The story came out in 1996 and the 90s aesthetic is all over this manga. There is a scene where Kira is wearing high rise jeans and I looked at my husband in shock. It’s my damn high school days all over again.


Kira’s character annoyed me a bit. After learning her backstory, I understand why she’s standoffish and stays to herself, the characteristic that bothers me is her naivete. That there’s no way anyone could be bad, they’re misunderstood, like when Rei warned her about Masao. That didn’t go badly at all. </end sarcasm> I just have an issue with characters who are overly trusting and put themselves in avoidable situations. There’s also a situation towards the end of the story where Kira hides some important family information from Rei. It annoyed me because yeah she loves him and wants to protect him but that wasn’t her place to withhold that. He blamed himself for years for a major plot point and that info absolved him of it.

Another thing that troubled me was a homophobic slur early on in the story. I remember being in high school and the 90s and I know it was a different time but still. 

Overall, it’s not a bad series and I’m glad I read it. Now, I can follow along with the pop culture references I’ve seen. 

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