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We’ll wrap up Press Release Thursday with some information on Kou Yaginuma’s lovely Twin Spica (Vertical), which I reviewed here. I always appreciate it when a publisher shares a substantial online preview of their upcoming titles (heck, or stuff that they’ve already got in print, because everything is new to somebody), and the chapter Vertical chose is a haunting and lovely prequel to the main action of the series.

Countdown to Twin Spica‘s Launch Begins

Twin Spica, the thoughtful manga by renowned comic artist Kou Yaginuma, is getting ready for liftoff later this spring, and Vertical, Inc. wants readers to join in on the countdown to launch as we unveil one of the stories that helped start it all nearly a decade ago. Starting today manga readers can preview Yaginuma’s 30-page-long short story Asumi at Vertical’s official Twin Spica webpage.

Published originally in 2000, the Asumi short reveals many secrets of the world of Twin Spica. Shedding light on the bitter sweet past of Twin Spica‘s main character Asumi Kamogawa, with a focus on a younger version of the titular character, Asumi takes readers back to when our heroine first met her guardian astronaut.

Asumi supporters can then countdown the days to the Twin Spica launch as Volume 1 of the English edition of this heart-warming manga series will go on sale worldwide on May 4th. Endorsed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, Japan’s version of NASA), the sixteen-volume manga series has spun off animated and live-action TV series each broadcasted by NHK (the Japanese PBS), here’s what critics have to say about Twin Spica:

“With art that would make Studio Ghibli proud, this story moved and impressed me. A+” —About Heroes

“[Yaginuma]’s work fuses Twin Spica with both a sense of childhood nostalgia as well as encouragement to venture beyond. Replace ‘space exploration’ with the goal of your choosing and you have the recipe for an inspiring parable of progress… It’s refreshingly divergent from the majority of the manga on shelves at the moment.” —Otaku USA

“Kou Yaginuma has created a fascinating alternate future for Japan, where tragedy becomes the foundation of both the protagonist’s story and her country’s entry into the space race… Asumi’s single-minded dedication to her childhood dream is admirable. As soon as I finished this book, I found myself already longing to read more.” —i ♥ manga!