Clockwork Planet lists “manga by” and “character design by” and it feels like a manga weirdly shaped by opposing forces.
The story takes place on a literal clockwork planet, made of springs and gears after Earth is destroyed. That’s at least two big science fictional ideas tossed out in the first seven pages of comic script—concepts that would have taken up many more words in a prose story by, say, Yoshio Aramaki, or in the series of light novels this manga was based upon. I confess that I was both fascinated and repelled by a gear-based planet.
On one hand it’s cute to take the steampunk aesthetic to its logical conclusion, but on the other hand my inner hard SF reader was screaming, “If you’re building a planet to replace a dead Earth, where in the name of Robert A. Heinlein is your workbench?”
While the problems of living on a giant clock are addressed eventually, the beginning of the story deals with lonely young genius Naoto Miuru, who finds and repairs Ryuzu, a clockwork girl. This leads to a perfectly serviceable (even somewhat touching) magical girl plot. It’s not bad, but it seemed an awful waste of world building to just throw in stock characters.
The story gets more interesting later on when we meet the character Marie: her membership in the “Meistier’s Guild” gives the reader a frightening look into the political machinery (pun intended) that runs Clockwork Planet. Marie may be tough, smart, and incorruptible but she is up against people who can control gravity itself. I know Marie’s story will continue to dovetail with the more romantic plot as the series goes on, but I hope the writer knows to keep the emphasis on Marie, the politics and SF aspects rather than just the magical girlfriend.
story: Yuu Kamiya & Tsubaki Himana
character design: Shino