Title: Robotics;Notes Volume 1
Release Date: October 31, 2023
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
One of the most overlooked entries in the Science Adventure franchise is undeniably Robotics;Notes, the third mainline title. Unlike the Chaos entries, which have seen a recent resurgence, and Steins;Gate, which is practically the face of the series to the extent that many aren’t even aware it’s part of a series, Robotics;Notes falls into a comparatively odd spot. It’s not really all that well-known outside of dedicated fans, and even in those groups, it’s a toss-up as to whether it’ll receive substantial discussion.
So, the news of the manga adaptation receiving official English releases was quite welcome, as this will make the adventure open to newer fans in a digestible way. Still, the prominent questions were how the translation would be and how the manga’s pacing would ultimately end up.
The story of Robotics;Notes follows Kaito Yashio and Akiho Senomiya, members of Tanegashima High’s barely funded Robot Research Club. The duo works on building a giant robot, eventually with the cooperation of collaborators and other eventual club members. However, a newly discovered conspiracy called the Kimijima Reports makes matters far graver than anyone ever expected.
There was little worry from the outset regarding the translation because Andrew Hodgson, more commonly referred to as Steiner, was at the helm here. He’s known for various projects, including translating the latest localized Science Adventure release, Anonymous;Code. That project’s localization was handled brilliantly, and to pretty much no one’s surprise, you don’t have anything to worry about in the translation department of the Robotics;Notes manga.
The personalities of every character have remained intact from the source material and relevant supplemental media, with every line feeling like they were looked over with a fine-tooth comb. This especially applies to the leading characters, Kaito and Akiho. These two are honestly the heart of the story; I wasn’t all that worried about how Akiho would be approached, but Kaito was more of a concern. He’s a tricky protagonist because of his seemingly detached personality and lack of enthusiasm, which could easily be mishandled.
It’s been around a decade since I last watched the Robotics;Notes anime adaptation, though I do recall not caring much for Kaito there, while Akiho left a substantially more favorable impression. Granted, this changed once I played the visual novels since the structure of that medium helped better illustrate Kaito’s mentality.
Still, I doubted whether Kaito would be done justice in a manga adaptation, where there would be inevitable cuts from the source material. Thankfully, those doubts have, at least so far, been unfounded. Kaito’s characterization is quite endearing, which, with him as the focal point, helps the relationships and personalities of the rest of the main cast shine by extension.
As for the other potential concern I mentioned earlier, the manga’s pacing, I honestly have no idea how the subsequent two manga volumes will work. The first volume of the Robotics;Notes manga adapts a rather minute amount of the overall story, meaning there’s still plenty left to cover in just two more volume releases. What was done in volume one was great, even with its compromises. So, some unparalleled shuffling around with the pacing will have to be done to make everything flow. I’m equally curious and nervous to see how it all turns out.
The first volume of the Robotics;Notes manga is a fantastic read that both veteran fans and complete newcomers will appreciate. Despite the understandable cuts made to specific sequences, this heartfelt effort presents the Tanegashima Robot Research Club in a new, delightful light. Further, the gorgeous artwork by Keiji Asakawa enhances the terrific depictions of these characters. Still, I advise caution for the two remaining volumes since there is uncertainty regarding what they can adapt within the medium’s limits.
The second and third volumes of the Robotics;Notes manga will launch in January 2024 and March 2024, respectively. Check out our previous coverage for pre-order links and the alternate cover illustrations.
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