S.S. Astro

Review covers the only volume released so far

S.S. Astro is 4 panel strip staring the teachers of the titular Japanese school.

It’s set out like a newspaper strip, though I’m not sure I could imagine a newspaper that would actually carry it.

It’s completely episodic in style, to the point where you can skip forward a few pages and the story will make no less sense than it would have anyway.

Here’s what I liked about it:

S.S. Astro does a good job of not allowing itself to be limited by its 4-panel format. There are small plot arcs without the comic recapping the plot every 4 panels, as the likes of Dilbert are often forced to do.

There are some funny and interesting characters. Each character in the strip has at least one quirk of some form or other.

The Comic is very good for rereading. With the knowledge of the characters you gain from having read the book, you’ll notice new things on your second and third read through.

It’s difficult for me to tell exactly, but it looks like it has kept its original Japanese style quite well in its translation into English.

Here’s what I didn’t like about it:

S.S. Astro lets itself be limited by its episodic format. Nothing interesting or world changing ever really happens. There’s never anything big or epic to look forward to, and despite so much of the focus being on interactions between the cast, there’s no character development.

I didn’t feel that each character was introduced properly; the reader is just expected to learn as they read the Comic. On the first read through they’ll most likely spend a lot of time not understanding anything.

While the Comic does reward a reader who puts the time in to understand the characters, there’s only one book. For someone who doesn’t find themselves interested one book is too much, but as someone who put the time in to understand everything that was going on, I felt one book wasn’t quite enough.

Sometimes the comic tries to go slightly further than its 4-panel format will allow. There are small gaps in the story and pacing issues that a Comic book wouldn’t have.

I’m not sure whether it’s the format, the strong Japanese style or the translation, but it’s somewhat confusing to read. I feel there could have been just a little more redundancy, as if you fail to understand something you’re forced to either go back and reread until things do make sense, or flip through a few pages to the next topic.

I’m all for keeping the original Japanese style of a Manga, but there are too many jokes that you have to read the translation notes in the back to understand.


While it’s not a lost cause, I’m not exactly sure who I could recommend S.S. Astro to. Someone who has a very strong knowledge of Japanese culture may enjoy it.