The first issue of Mech Cadet Yu was a darling among my comic loving circle. It was praised for its charming visual look and throwback Anime feel. While I enjoyed the issue and mostly agreed with the praise, I wasn’t quite as high on the issue as my friends.
The previous issue left us with the unlikely pairing of a young janitor with a seemingly weak, damaged mech. Instead of the mech choosing the star cadet, Park, it chose the unlikely young boy. This issue sees the boy, Yu and his mech return to base to deal with the fallout of their pairing as well as gauging the damage the mech has sustained (its outward shell appears quite damaged, as it crash-landed in the first issue). This is not really a spoiler, with the book titled Mech Cadet Yu, but we get to see Yu join the cadets and begin his training. The Robos are shown to be somewhat sentient. They have controls but are guided, not controlled. You are expected to bond with your mech. I love seeing Yu’s interaction with his Robo buddy and it provides moments for him to show his patience and heroic determination. The issue hits all the expected beats. We learn more about our characters, how the robots came to our planet and how they operate. The issue also builds up the threat of its main villains.
Yu is a very likable and determined character. While I like Yu and his mother, they are shown to have a wonderful, grounded relationship, the majority of the main characters come across as a bit one-dimensional and saccharine. Yu’s mother is the standout. Her interactions with Yu provide the book with an emotional touch and she provides the right amount of caution and encouragement. Outside of Yu’s mother, the only character showing additional depth is Park. I don’t hold the lack of deep, conflicted characters against this book. This series is meant to provide a balanced story with ample action, a nostalgic sense of wonder, and enough character moments to make you care. It attempts to deliver more than just a typical “boy and his giant robot” story and mostly succeeds.
Miyazawa’s art is beautiful and has a classic anime inspired look to it. The characters are very expressive, and everything has a charming, familiar feel. However, the art can be a bit sketchy and the lines aren’t animation clean. It’s not unpleasant and it helps to add a human touch. Backgrounds are nicely detailed and everything has a great sense of depth and scale. The cover is fun. It tries to show the sense of the scale of the mech as compared to Yu and the framing is interesting.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable issue and maintains the series’ momentum. It delivers familiar themes in a well-executed package. The final pages of the issue also do a great job of building excitement for the rest of the series. I give this issue 4 out of 5 stars.
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa
Published by Boom Studios