cover image Robo Sapiens: Tales of Tomorrow (Omnibus)

Robo Sapiens: Tales of Tomorrow (Omnibus)

Toranosuke Shimada, trans. from the Japanese by Adrienne Beck. Seven Seas, $19.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-64827-598-2

Shimada’s contemplative manga, his English-language debut, winds through a thoughtfully developed world where humanoid robots are commonplace. Through interconnected vignettes, an ensemble cast of androids and other humans go about their lives. Sachio, an android, continues to live among humans even after his companion’s death; while Toby and Chloe, also androids, are sent to search deep space for planets that could support human life. The most frequently recurring character is Maria, an ultra-longevity robot who keeps a facility running for thousands of years as the humans who check in on her are replaced by ever-more advanced robots. The evocative, sparsely illustrated sequences are reminiscent of alternative American comics, such as Freddy Carrasco’s Gleem or Sophia Foster-Dimino’s oeuvre, than mainstream sci-fi manga. Shimada creates an image of a potential future full of understated love and empathy: robots transfer data between themselves by touching each other’s cheeks, replicating a human gesture of intimacy and affection, and the doctor in charge of Toby and Chloe’s mission asked for the robots to be happy if they couldn’t return to Earth, a mission they do their best to fulfill. Shimada upends the notion that survival of androids over humanity must essentially be dystopian, depicting a future where human traits of love and care endure, even if humanity does not. (Nov.)