25 Oct / Saturn Apartments (vol. 1) by Hisae Iwaoka, translated by Matt Thorn
Since all of earth has been declared a nature preserve, mankind now inhabits a “giant apartment complex,” which orbits 35,000 meters above the deserted planet. Society is literally stratified, with the upper level residents afforded greater privileges while the basement dwellers live with limited resources.
Five years ago, Mitsu’s father disappeared on the job; Mitsu’s been raised and cared for by a community of caring neighbors. As a window washer, Mistu’s father regularly risked harsh, dangerous conditions in serving the wealthy; only the upper-level dwellers can afford the luxury of clear windows so they might glimpse the earth’s faraway beauty and feel the natural warmth and light of the sun beyond.
Having just graduated school, Mitsu begins his own career as a window washer. Mentored by his father’s longtime friend Jin – definitely a veteran expert in the field – Mitsu learns not only his new trade, but also about the man who was his father. He glimpses the secret lives of people beyond the glass, from “the King of Aquaculture” desperate to recreate the ocean, to the widow of one of Jin’s childhood friends, to a scientist working on an invention that just might make Jin and Mitsu obsolete.
Saturn Apartments is clearly a prescient warning to us current earthlings to stop abusing Mother Earth lest we lose all access to it. It’s also testimony to man’s survival instincts … and our need to recreate and maintain social structures between the haves and the have-nots, even in outer space.
Mitsu is an adorable young man-in-training, wide-eyed with wonder at what is beyond his enclosed world, missing his father, discovering new friends, and making his quiet way into a brave new world. Younger readers will enjoy the adventures; adults will recognize the deeper meanings (and warnings) of a not-too-far future in peril.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 2010 (United States)
DOSEI MANSION © Hisae Iwaoka
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.