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The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
A Galaxy Next Door

What's It About? 

Since his parents died, manga artist Ichiro has barely scraped by, forced to support his two younger siblings on just a middle school education. He doesn't even have time to learn how to use a computer, which forces him to keep wrestling with pen and paper. When his art assistants quit to strike out on their own, on top of juggling deadlines, family, and the constant fear of losing his job, Ichiro feel close to a total breakdown. But then a new assistant pops into Ichiro's life, and his prospects immediately start to brighten! She's an incredible artist, she always finishes on time, and she's beautiful, to boot! But she also seems to know an awful lot about him, and, soon, she makes a confession that bends Ichiro's mind beyond the confines of Earth…

A Galaxy Next Door has story and art by Gido Amagakure and English translation by Rose Padgett. Kodansha Comics has released its first volume both digitally and physically for $7.99 and $12.99 respectively.

Is It Worth Reading?

Christopher Farris


Even compared to the variety the medium is overall known for, romance manga can go to some very…out there places. In this vein of feelings-catching craziness, we have A Galaxy Next Door, which at the outset appears to be a down-to-earth story of a manga artist and his quirky new assistant, before showing its hand at some much odder escalations to drive up the drama. It comes off extremely unexpected, especially if you're going in completely blind, and admittedly might be too much of a shift for some readers. But it also has a clear idea of what it's doing with a lot of these concepts, ideas it's exploring with them beyond relationship-driving contrivances.

I honestly hesitate to get too into the exact details of what Goshiki's deal is and how it leads to the connection between her and Kuga, for the sake of surprise for those who are interested in checking this one out. But suffice it to say, Gido Amagakure is telling a story about communication between people, especially those in or approaching a relationship. Early chapters play up Kuga's willingness to crunch on his manga production, not just for his employment's sake, but because he sees the effort as integral to his identity in doing the thing he loves, as an act of love for those he's supporting. The true feelings of what we desire, and how that feeds into whether we should ask for help or support, is something that Goshiki's unique way of communicating lets Kuga work out more than he had in the past. That's just one facet of the story, a cornerstone of the growing emotional bond between the two leads, but I think it serves as a strong example of what A Galaxy Next Door is reaching for with its various wild in-story mechanics.

It helps that, as a manga largely about manga artists, it's all extremely nice to look at as well. The lines on the characters are clean and consistent, supported by regular detailed backgrounds. We can often get a lot of panels and prose information per page, but it's paced smartly to never feel crowded. The knowing approach to detail lets Amagakure have extra fun with some bits, like a gag about Goshiki trying on near-imperceptibly-different dresses, or things like the perceptibility of Goshiki's personality and feelings in scenes like the leads acting out various shoujo manga staples. And the understanding of pacing leads to some very nice use of page turns at a couple crucial moments. That mark of experience is important with the sort of more unusual setups this one uses. It's definitely not going to be for everyone, since the full experience can be as overwhelming as the emotional overloads our characters experience a couple times. But for my part, as I watched it all come together by the end of this first volume, I found myself surprised by how engaged I was by A Galaxy Next Door.

Jean-Karlo Lemus


A Galaxy Next Door is a “magical girlfriend” show with a twist; struggling mangaka Ichiro recruits the elegant Shiori as an assistant, but accidentally "binds" himself to her. Shiori can go about as she pleases, but the farther she gets from Ichiro (or the worse her mood gets), the more his health suffers for it until she holds his hand. The two endeavor to make things work. Their interactions are cute: while Shiori is sheltered the way only a princess in a manga could ever be, she and Ichiro alike have a deep passion for manga and art, and Shiori herself comes to understand Ichiro through reading his manga and studying his art. At the same time, Shiori has to learn how to love others without necessarily controlling them. Meanwhile, Ichiro finds himself caught between wanting to help Shiori find a way to annul the pact, while also finding himself attracted to her. It's a cute dynamic aided by Ichiro's younger siblings being adorable little wingmen.

Gido's art is sweet and eyecatching. Shiori is almost too elegant, making even a tracksuit look fancy, while Ichiro is comically disheveled and exhausted from juggling so much work—if you liked Gojo Wakana, you'll love Ichiro. The world has a pleasant mix of fantastical charm and grounded realism, even if there are quite a few panels with blank backgrounds. Much like Gido's previous work, Sweetness and Lightning, the real magic comes in from the domestic day-to-day interactions between Ichiro and his family with the mysterious Shiori. With an engaging concept, fantastic art and a lot of love for manga, A Galaxy Next Door is off to a promising start for sure.

Rebecca Silverman


We see a lot of riffs on Antoine Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince in manga, to say nothing of Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs and L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, but it's slightly more unusual to get a title that appears to take at least a little inspiration from P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins. Gido Amagakure's A Galaxy Next Door seems to do just that – the image of when Ichiro first sees Goshiki, his new super-assistant, features her standing under a large black umbrella, and when you pair that with her story about a princess from the stars who may or may not be possessing her, it feels awfully similar to Travers' super-nanny who descends from the sky with a similar parasol. And yes, it also calls to mind The Little Prince in that the star princess has no way to go back to the sky with a body and there's a bit of Montgomery's classic plucky orphan in Ichiro's siblings, so maybe it's more fair to say that Amagakure is drawing from a variety of well-known literary sources.

In any event, as with the creator's previous series Sweetness & Lightning, there's a lot to enjoy here. Goshiki, who (physically) hails from a remote island, is something of a manga creating savant, which is precisely what Ichiro needs – he's been trying to support his two younger siblings with his manga since their father died, and while we don't know what happened to their mom, a single panel of her saying over the phone, “I may be your mother, but I have a new life now” sums up her feelings about the situation. Since Ichiro works traditionally – pen, ink, screen tone sheets – he needs an assistant who also does, and that's harder to come by in today's more digital world. The implication is that it's cheaper to work in physical media, and Ichiro needs to conserve what money he has. He's struggling to the point of breaking, and he's having a hard time both recognizing this and making himself stop, because he feels so incredibly responsible for his younger brother and sister.

That definitely adds to the Mary Poppins angle. Goshiki is well-versed in traditional manga creation because her only textbook was from the 1970s, and she's familiar with Ichiro's work in particular because her grandmother collected his manga. She's a bit of a cipher in that she doesn't quite seem human; it's hard to tell if that's because of her celestial hitchhiker and the myriad rules governing her behavior (and Ichiro's, once he accidentally engages himself to her via a prick of her stinger) or if she's just really sheltered. That's a delicate balance to maintain, and Amagakure does it well in this volume. Certainly the stinger protruding from Goshiki's lower back helps, but there's something that feels more otherworldly than naïve about her behavior that adds a good air of mystery to the story. It's perhaps not as immediately engaging as Amagakure's previous title, but it's still a heaping spoonful of sugar for days when the medicine just won't go down.



As a fan of romance stories, it's always interesting to see the different ways in which love can be portrayed to different audiences. A Galaxy Next Door seems to ask the question “is it possible to have a natural relationship with somebody when they are cosmically bound and predisposed to falling in love with you already?”. That can be an upsetting moral dilemma, and for the first half of the book I think it's handled quite well. Our main lead is a very kind-hearted sweetheart who's had to work most of his life for the sake of taking care of his two sisters. His life is all about compromise and shouldering heavy responsibilities on his own, so when he starts opening up to allow this seemingly random space princess into his life, there is a genuine romantic spark between the two. When he gets "attached" to her by an unfortunate misunderstanding, you do legitimately feel bad because you do see chemistry there that could work organically, but now it's complicated by a question of whether or not our two leads could still navigate that relationship while also dealing with this psychological cosmic phenomenon.

My only real complaint is that as we get closer to the end of the book, the pacing speeds up to the point of feeling rushed and for a split second, I almost thought that the book was going to try to wrap everything up in this one volume. Thankfully that doesn't seem to be the case, but certain milestones of romantic progression and conversation seem to come way sooner than the initial set up will lead you to believe. It's possible that this could just be the story going a different direction regarding the aforementioned quandaries that it poses, but it is no less jarring and a bit distracting. Regardless, I do find the book brimming with a lot of charm and if you're a fan of romance, I think there is just enough here to keep you invested in this young adult romance.

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