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Jyu-Oh-Sei: Volume 1    by Natsumi Itsuki order for
by Natsumi Itsuki
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The aim of science fiction is to transport the reader to new, distant worlds full of technology and strife. These worlds make the reader think about his or her own world and realize what can be. Jyu-Oh-Sei by Natsumi Itsuki is one such story.

Due to a population boom and declining resources, the people of Earth began relocating to the Vulcan Star System in 2092. While the planets have been terraformed to resemble Earth, life expectancy is much shorter, causing Vulcan inhabitants to grow up much faster. Also, while the planets may be different, humans are still the same and crime runs deep. In order to punish his second in command, colony chief Odin kills his top scientists and sends their twin boys, Thor and Rai, to Kimaera, a secret prison planet.

Kimaera is as different from Earth as possible, with days and nights lasting for 181 Earth days. The climate is harsh, and many do not survive to turn 30 the age when they are transported to another planet. The ones who do survive belong to one of four rings based on skin color. Each ring has three top males and three top females, all of whom are overseen by the Beast King the only inhabitant of Kimaera who can leave the planet.

When the twins are separated and Rai falls to his death, Thor falls in with the Ochre Ring, but is not a true member. Together, with Tiz, the second from the female Sun Ring, they form their own ring as Thor tries to atone for his brother's death and return to his home planet. To do so, he must become the next Beast King.

Jyu-Oh-Sei has a lot of messages in it. There are environmental messages and racism messages, but the ones that stand out most and help the reader connect to the story are those about staying true to yourself. Thor's desire to do so, even when he does not always like what he has become, helps the reader feel for him and want to be involved with his story. And it is his story that carries this manga. Itsuki's artwork is nice and imaginative, but there is nothing that really separates it from other SF manga.

The first volume of Jyu-Oh-Sei is long, but there is a lot of story that Natsumi Itsuki has to cover. Thor's world needs explaining, but the human nature that drives the plot is universal, making for a gripping read for SF fans.

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