As the creator of Fairy Tail, Hiro Mashima has an almighty hit under his belt. EdensZero follows the action/adventure route of his popular series but moves us into a Science Fantasy world, wherein our first stop is the amusement park known as Granbell Kingdom.
Seeking more social media clicks, Rebecca and her cat, Happy, arrive at the gates of the long defunct park hoping to create exciting new content. Following a Disney-esque welcome from the park's eager robotic inhabitants, Rebecca runs into Shiki, a young man who has grown up surrounded only by his robotic companions. In classic Tarzan style, Shiki examines the human woman who has appeared out of nowhere with all the manners you'd expect from someone with no experience of human contact. One inappropriate scene later and Rebecca has decided, violently, that she's not interested in getting to know the young pervert any better.
However, a rebellion by Shiki's robot friends as soon as they realise they can use Rebecca's ship to escape their park-prison forces the two to work together to survive, a feat made possible only by Shiki's fortunate ability to use an ancient technology called Ether Gear.
Managing to escape to the cosmos, Shiki's adventures begin.
I very much enjoyed EdensZero - there's a real playfulness to it, but it packs an unexpected emotional punch too. There are a few panels that come at you out of nowhere and are really quite moving, juxtaposed by a real energy as Mashima spins another Campbell style Heroes Journey tale. There's even a sly reference to Fairy Tail in here too (along with some background cameos!), which I very much appreciated.
It's surprisingly relevant too, though it may be the translation, to social media obsession. "B-Cubers" are referred to as "Digital Influencers" and the negative affects of this attitude are writ large by Labilia, another B-Cuber who charges money for any real life interaction and clearly has an ego the size of the planet she's walking on. It's a fun poke at the Youtube celebrity culture that's slowly developed over the last 10 years, and I found myself with a wry smile every so often.
Shiki's obsession with making friends and poking every human he makes contact with is, for now, enjoyable. It's clearly a trait that will ebb away as he matures, and there's enough foreshadowing in this book to suggest that the adventure he craves is very much on the way. In an almost Tenchi-style sub-plot, it's clear that the key players in the universe are very much aware of Shiki's potential while he remains blissfully unaware of the larger game around him.
The fist volume ends on a terrific cliffhanger, and I'm genuinely intrigued enough to have pre-ordered volume 2.