Story and art by Ryuko Azuma
See it in larger format on Comic NewType here
Narrative reads right to left
The chapter opens with a dream; a horrific Seireness is wrapping itself around the Mark 6 Yamato ship and no one is coming to the rescue. “No,” Yu shouts, “I don’t want to die! Somebody help me!!!”
Right side: Laine shouts that he is on the way to help Yu. As his ship rushes in, the Seireness reaches out.
Left side: The others watch as Laine’s ship is engulfed. They shout for him to disengage. Helpless, Nina listens to his parting words. “It was me who brought Yu to Jupiter. I changed his life. If I leave, I can’t help him any more…”
Right side: A scream fills the heavens as Laine’s ship is crushed.
Left side: Yu wakes from the dream with no idea what he just witnessed.
Chapter title: Rainbow
Left side: We join the NerfThis fleet in flight. Signs of a wormhole have been detected, and the Topness pilots are preparing to launch a pre-emptive assault. Yu’s ship has not yet launched to join them. “He’s having nightmares,” Hugo says. “Mentally, Yu is still an elementary student, after all. I’m sure the battle will be over before Yu gets up.”
Right side: Things are still frosty between Nina and Marina. Nina coldly announces their strategy. She orders Marina and Aisha to remain in the rear until Yu joins them. “Laine and I will keep the Seireness in a tight zone. Linne will prioritize canceling their song.” And with that, the fleet launches.
Left side: The wormhole begins to open. Nina orders them quickly forward.
Right side: Back on Vimana station, Yu’s core ship is prepared for launch. Controllers go through the litany of systems startup as Abbey listens.
Left side: Alexei tells Abbey that her worrying won’t affect anything that’s about to happen. Outside, the wormhole opens. Four of the NerfThis ships are ready to pounce.
Right side: Yu listens as everyone shouts in surprise. Instead of the enemy Seireness, a storm of asteroids bursts out of the wormhole toward them! The impacts are immediate!
Left side: “The Nelson, Missouri, Richelieu, and Aegis ships are heavily damaged! Vital parts have been shot through!!” Carlos Jones listens silently. “Impossible,” is all Abbey can say.
“The asteroid belt,” she stammers. “They’re bringing in an asteroid field. I mean…” And three Seireness appear amid the storm of debris.
Right side: Marina and Aisha’s ships start toward the field of asteroids. Behind them, Yu begins to prep his Wave-Motion Gun.
Left side: On Nina’s ship, her Mifune robots are trying to rig the engine to restart, but a fire has to be put out first. “We can’t get out of this asteroid field with thrusters alone,” she yells. Linne calls everyone to gather around her ship within range of her shields. Hugo reacts as a giant Seireness peers over the edge of an asteroid.
Right side: The giant takes a swipe at Hugo’s ships. He responds by firing bind needles and attempts to escape, but another comes up behind him.
Left side: Echoing Yu’s dream, everyone tells Laine to escape via disjunct (a short warp) but he refuses, saying he can’t leave them to die. “We’re trapped,” Linne thinks. “At this rate…”
Right side: “…we’re going to crash into Jupiter.” The truth of this dawns on everyone as a controller announces they will hit atmosphere in 480 seconds. Hugo’s ship is damaged and will be torn apart. Aisha yells at Marina to hurry forward.
Left side: The two of them rush into the debris storm and Aisha fires off her Frost Aster shield to block the Seireness.
Right side: Everyone is in disarray, fighting the storm and unable to form up.
Left side: A large asteroid is incoming. Nina orders Hugo to cover them with his Thunderstorm attack.
Right side: Yu is escorted at full speed by Marina and Aisha. He fires off the Wave-Motion Gun, obliterating a long stream of asteroids.
Left side: Aisha flies toward Laine’s damaged ship with her Mark 5 “healer.” Marina covers her with another Frost Aster shield and she takes up a position right above Laine.
Right side: “FIRST AIDER!!!” Aisha blasts Laine’s ship with repair elements and races off, telling him to get back into the fight.
Left side: Hugo gets clear of the fray and Nina tells him to cover everyone with his Thunderstorm. Hugo is furious at how badly the operation has gone.
Right side: Hugo launches his Thunderstorm drones at a Seireness, engulfing it in energy.
Left side: On the verge of panic, everyone wants to know where Yu is. He says his Gun is 10% away from a full charge. Aisha calls out for Nina –
Right side: – warning her of an impending strike from a Seireness. It rakes Nina’s ship. Nearby, Linne is finally in a position to attack. “GRAVITY BALLET!”
Left side: Linne announces that she got the Seireness, but there’s still another one in the fray, reaching for Aisha’s ship. Aisha blasts it point blank with an attack of her own. “COLORED RIBBON!!!” Laine watches the successful strike, saying, “Seriously…you can use it like that…” (Referring to the fact that Aisha’s ship normally fires off only repair elements.)
Right side: Aisha’s ship is damaged by the point blank explosion and her engine takes fatal damage.
Left side: Deeper below, Nina’s ship plunges into Jupiter. “I’ll never make it in time…” Aisha listens, trembling.
Right side: Aisha flashes to a photo of herself with her friends Nina and Marina when they were all getting along. Behind her, Marina fires off her Frost Aster shields to block Nina’s fall.
Left side: It’s too late; Nina’s ship drops past them. On board, Nina is doubled over in defeat. “Marina is right. I’m the one who was emotional. It was a really stupid strategy, shutting Marina out. To put myself in danger in Mark 1. I’m disqualified to lead Topness.”
Right side: “I’m going down to Jupiter. I’ll be the first human to do so.” Above Nina, Aisha’s ship is taking the same plunge. “This can’t be the end,” she shouts. “Mifune! Never mind the fire! Main engine to maximum power!”
Left side: Mifune says the engine will explode, but Aisha responds that it will happen anyway. “We’ll use Jupiter’s gravity and our thruster to get to Nina! We’ll repair her ship’s engine and go up with her!” Nina shouts at Aisha to stop, not to risk her life. “SHUT UP,” Aisha yells. “The life I’ve led…the courage I got from you two…”
Right side: “It was all for this moment!”
Left side: The others listen as Aisha tells them she will save Nina, and they need to handle the Seireness. Nina tries again in vain to order Aisha away. Yu’s Wave-Motion Gun is ready to fire again.
“Come home alive and apologize,” Aisha screams at Nina. As her ship closes on Nina’s Mark 1, Yu’s shot goes off far above them, destroying the last Seireness.
Right side: In Vimana‘s control room, the Wave-Motion flash fills the screen. “Mission complete. All enemy Seireness have been destroyed.” But the two ships in Jupiter have gone too deep to escape. Marina is shocked. “It’s a lie…”
Left side: Abbey and Alexei listen to Marina’s cries of despair. The others hear it from their ships. “It’s all a lie!!! I haven’t apologized yet!!! Abbey, what are you doing? Get the rescue boats out here!!! It’s my fault…why did they have to die…”
Right side: “Please don’t leave me alone,” Marina weeps from her core ship. Below, something miraculous happens; a giant sphere of colored ribbons rises out of the clouds. “Marina,” a voice says. “Didn’t I tell you?”
Left side: At the top of the sphere, buoyed upward, are two ships: Nina’s Mark 1 and Aisha’s Mark 5. The colored ribbon device has saved them both. Marina looks at in disbelief. “Rainbow…?”
“Aisha and Nina,” Yu shouts, “they’re both alive!!”
At rest in her cockpit, Aisha is relieved. “We’re gonna be OK.” Her mind drifts back to a rainbow above the ruins where she was once orphaned. “I’m so glad I came to Jupiter. Thank you…”
Ryuko Azuma’s Production Memo
This time, I had a hard time because it overlapped with working on another book.
I tried to keep the number of pages as low as possible, and I thought that only Nina would fall to Jupiter. However, I thought it would be better if all the vanguards fell, so I decided to make it 46 pages and I managed to finish it. I think my pen is getting faster and I’m getting more efficient in my work. Looking back, I didn’t draw any meteorites, but…
I had some trouble using the Wave-Motion Gun this time, but in the end I decided to use it twice. To be frank, I could have drawn the story without using it right after the sortie, so I gave priority to telling the story without using it. However, the number of pages, the interaction between Marina and Hugo, and the fact that they can reap the asteroid field in one go, made me think that it would be better to use the main gun.
I wanted to have a scene of the asteroids being swept away all at once. I’ve always had trouble with the direction of the Wave-Motion Gun, but when it is fired behind Mark 1 and Mark 5, it’s linked to Aisha’s expression and feelings in the next panel. I thought it could be used in this way.
Also, the idea of exploding the Mark 5 engine and dropping it into Jupiter was initially reversed. The idea was that the engine could not be repaired in time, so it shut down and plunge into Jupiter. But when I was re-writing the script, I thought it could go the other way around and explode. By making it explode, I think I was able to show Aisha’s determination. I’m not sure.
Concerning discord among the characters, I think it’s a common story pattern for rivals to make up after a battle. I think it’s more important to have ingenuity than to come up with a new story pattern. I thought it could be told from the point of view of Aisha, who suffers in the middle. I think it made the story a little different.