Good morning everyone,
It’s fun to stumble upon innovative size media. “Innovative” in the sense of never before seen with an creative and intriguing concept. That was the situation when I came across today’s subject, a short comic drawn and written by Kenji Tsuruta 鶴田 謙二 for his “Spirit of Wonder” スピリット・オブ・ワンダー manga.
I first discovered this many years ago in a translated scan. Recently, I endeavored to track down the original and found a compiled edition of Spirit of Wonder which included the story “Wish for the Stars” 星にお願いを. It explores, albeit ever so briefly, the concept of increasing a person’s size to cosmic proportions to enable them to travel among the stars. (NOTE: I actually bought two different versions of the Spirit of Wonder collected edition for a total of about $15. In my opinion, that was a reasonable price for these graphic novels which were published in late August 1997. Although, secondhand bookstores in Japan may carry used copies for much less.)
The tale involves a young man named Akio who works for an eccentric scientist called Professor Sherlock Skelmersdale. Akio is friends with a young woman named Shoko Ohara. Shoko’s boyfriend had traveled to Alpha Centauri. Initially, Shoko was planning to accompany her lover, but she was pregnant and the space agency refused to send a pregnant woman. She subsequently aborted the pregnancy, but apparently not in time to accompany her lover. Furthermore, the planning was too far along for Shoko’s lover to leave the mission and therefore he traveled to Alpha Centauri without her, never to return to Earth. Thus, Shoko was left alone, trillions of miles away from the man she loves. Although, the boyfriend did have the foresight to ask Akio to watch over Shoko. Nonetheless, Shoko was going through a challenging time.
Meanwhile, Professor Skelmersdale was building a miniature universe also known as a micro-cosmos, as one does, which includes an tiny planet populated by naked fairies, as can be seen in the following image. The creation of this “fairy planet” appears to annoy Akio, but not enough to compel him to quit.
After his success with creating a micro-cosmos, Professor Skelmersdale notices that a normal-sized person could reach from one side to another within his minuscule man-made universe. This gives him the idea to enlarge a person to allow them to travel from one star system to another in our own cosmos. Specifically, he envisions a test subject going from our solar system to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri.
The professor determines that his plan to expand a person to the size of four light years may be dangerous so he placed an ad in the newspaper seeking someone who is single with no family and “taking a pessimistic view of life” ergo hopeless. (NOTE: In reality, a newspaper might think twice about running classified ads seeking “hopeless” people as that sounds like a recipe for disaster!) Presumably, the professor’s rationale was that such a person would be willing to take a deadly risk for the sake of the experiment. (NOTE: Or at the very least since they have no family no one would demand that the legal authorities prosecute Professor Skelmersdale if things go awry!)
Alas, to Akio’s dismay, Shoko responds to the professor’s ad.
This story is very short and I don’t want to give everything away; although, sharp-eyed readers will be able to figure out the tone of the ending based on the last screenshot in this post 🙂
While not wanting to spoil all the details, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the ideas raised were not explored to any depth. For instance, if a solid object with the density of a human body suddenly obtained a size of four light-years than it would gain a gravitational field far greater than anything we’ve ever discovered. Planets are formed when materials of sufficient quantity come together. The resulting gravitational pull causes those materials to form spherical (albeit not perfectly spherical) shapes, ergo planets. Therefore, would Shoko’s body compress and become round? Although, that also makes me wonder if her body would have such a gravitational pull that it might form a black hole? How would she move since it would take many years for nerve impulses to travel from her brain to her limbs? (NOTE: My understanding is that nerve impulses travel much slower than the speed of light.) Our solar system is much smaller than a light year, so she could not grow that large within our solar system without destroying every planet in the system, including Earth, and thus would kill all of humanity ❗ Wouldn’t it be necessary to transport Shoko someplace far away from our solar system? Following that line of reasoning, if you have to take her far enough away from the solar system to allow enough room to grow to 4 light years tall can’t you just take Shoko all the way to Alpha Centauri without changing her size? Of course, that’d be a markedly less exciting way to travel 😉
For comparison’s sake, the dwarf planet Pluto is roughly 4.75 light hours away from the Sun, as of the time of this writing, per NASA. Thus, Shoko became the size of 4 light years or several thousand times larger than the current distance between our Sun and Pluto! That’s all to say, she became really, really big! (NOTE: Sadly though, the size-changing process was not drawn. Nor was the means of her enlargement explained in the slightest.)
(SIDE NOTE: I am definitely not an astrophysicist or a mathematician; so, please let me know what I got wrong!)
Overall though, this was more about the characters and less about the science. It started out quite bleak, but the outlook brightened at the end. I wish that more care had been taken with the art, such as actually drawing facial features, and in general I’m more receptive to the color drawings in American comics as opposed to the black and white drawings in Japanese manga. However, I did appreciate this manga’s innovative premise. Perhaps someday an enterprising creator could revisit the idea and properly flesh it out.
That’s it for now folks. Next week’s reviews will begin with a post about growth sequences in confined spaces which was requested a month and a half ago by blog reader Eom. Until then dear readers, keep growing!
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