Venus Wars

Japanese Title: Venus Senki
Genre: Action
Length: 4 Volumes (Japan) /2 Volumes (US)
Allegiance: Nora Comics/Dark Horse Comics
Mangaka: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Vintage: 1987
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
In the year 2003, a comet crashes into the planet, making it habitable. Humanity, always eager for new territory to explore and settle, quickly colonized the planet. Flash forward to the year 2089. A war rages between the two nations of Venus, Aphrodia and Ishtar, over land and natural resources. Ken Seno, a talented young Battle Bike racer, is recruited to the war effort because of his skills with a motorcycle. Then, Matthew Sim Radom, a young cadet in the elite forces who discovers the military is very different from how he thought when he finds the woman he loves at the center of a military conspiracy.

Research Agent Report by: Lady Sage
Overall 8.00
(not an average)
Venus Wars tells two very disparate stories: the first stars a rebellious young man recruited solely for his motorcycle skills; the latter, an upstart graduate from a top military academy. One is action-driven, spending much time on the battlefield while the other is an intrigue-filled political thriller where nothing is as it seems. The first could happen to any soldier on the battlefield; the second is highly specific. What could possibly unite these dissimilar young men and their stories, beyond just the setting? 

The first to guess at this mystery will be those schooled in classic anime: Venus Wars was written by Mobile Suit Gundam character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. The style is distinctly 80’s, with detailed mechanical designs but more free-flowing, loosely drawn human designs. Fans with a more modern sensibility may find the art style off-putting, but older fans or those who just like old-school art will be pleased. There are times, however, when I wish the designs were considerably better differentiated, since it can get hard to tell them apart.

The plots are more complex than many long-running manga, but Venus Wars’ concise, to-the-point storytelling allows full realization of the stories without a rushed feeling. For Ken’s tale, that’s simple. In fact, its two volumes actually allow for the considerable character development needed to make it more than simply a fast bikes and big guns story. Matthew’s tale, however, is fast-paced with lots of plot twists. As a result, the character development is somewhat sparser. There are several secondary characters recycled from Ken’s story into Matthew’s, which was strategic on Yoshikazu’s part: by providing us with characters we are already familiar with, he allows himself more time to flesh out the new characters. 

In the end, the uniting theme comes in loud and clear: War is Hell. No matter who one is, from cannon-fodder trench fighters to commissioned military school officers, it is a dark, vicious thing. This message has permeated Yoshikazu’s projects for years, and today, a decade after Venus Wars’ initial publication, the message may be more pertinent than ever.