Mars is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Fuyumi Soryo. Initially serialized in Bessatsu Friend from 1996 to 2000, the series spans 15 tankōbon volumes. It follows the disliked teenage romance between Kira Aso, an introverted artist, and Rei Kashino, a troubled playboy who is a professional motorcycle racer. A single volume prequel, Mars: A Horse By No Name was released in 1999.
The manga is licensed for an English language release by Tokyopop, which has published all 15 volumes plus the prequel. The series was adapted into a 21 episode Taiwanese television drama in 2004.
Kira Aso and Rei Kashino meet when Rei asks Kira for directions to a local hospital one day in the park, but instead of telling him the directions she draws him a map and hands it to him without saying a word. On the back of the directions is a picture Kira drew of a mother and child. On the first day of school they are both surprised to find that they are in the same class. Later Rei walks in on their teacher sexually harassing Kira. Rei promises to protect Kira in exchange for a painted version of the sketch that was on the back of the map. He also offers to "lend Kira his body" and she asks him to model for her.
- Kira Aso (麻生 キラ Asō Kira?) is timid teenage artist who lives with her mother. Her father died when she was ten years old in a car accident involving a motorcycle gang. Her stepfather raped her when she was fourteen years old. Her mother finally discovered what was happening and separated from her husband, taking Kira with her. This experience caused Kira to withdraw from her social life at school. However, years later, Rei Kashino helps her recover. At the end of the series, Kira is married to Rei, and Rei's father has offered to pay for her to go to art college.
- Rei Kashino (樫野 零 Kashino Rei?) is an extroverted playboy who rides motorcycles on the professional circuit. He only entered high school because he made a deal with his father that if he did he could move out of the house. He and his father do not get along. He had a twin brother, Sei, who committed suicide. His mother was mentally ill and tried to kill Rei when he was young. She committed suicide shortly after. Rei is extremely good-looking and is loved by all girls. He falls in love with Kira Aso while modeling for her. At the end of the series, he is married to Kira and continuing to work on his professional career as a motorcyclist.
- Tatsuya Kida (木田 達也 Tatsuya Kida?) is Rei's best friend who also has had a crush on Kira since they attended junior high together. However, he eventually comes to love Harumi, and goes out with her.
- Harumi Sugihara (杉原 晴美 Sugihara Harumi?) is a female classmate of Kira and Rei's. She's been "in love" with Rei ever since they slept together in their freshman year. Although initially she makes Kira a target of psychologically brutal attacks because of the growing connection between Kira and Rei, she later reforms and becomes a solid and protective friend. She eventually comes to care about Tatsuya, and they go out together.
- Shiori Sakurazawa (桜沢 しおり Sakurazawa Shiori?) is a girl from Rei's past, she was first Sei's girlfriend but then left Sei for Rei. She also blames herself for Sei's death.
- Masao Kirishima (桐島 牧生 Kirishima Maki Sei?) is an effeminate sociopath who was often bullied by his only friend, Yuji Aoki. Rei had saved Masao from being beaten to death at one point in time, but barely remembers this event as the action was impulsively taken when Rei was still in shock over Sei's death. Soon after this incident, Masao kills Aoki. Masao admits to having a crush on Rei, but also claims to have a crush on Kira. He later decides she is an obstacle to making Rei "be himself", and attempts to kill her. Rei saves her and Masao is institutionalized, but he is later released and tries to kill Rei. When he is being questioned by the police, he seems to have forgotten Rei completely, leading the police to state that he is no longer a threat to the couple.
Written and illustrated by Fuyumi Soryo, the chapters of Mars were serialized in Bessatsu Friend from 1995 to 2000. They were collected and published in 15 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. The first volume was published on May 13, 1996; the last on December 13, 2000. A short prequel series, Mars: A Horse With No Name (MΑRS外伝 名前のない馬 MARS Gaiden Namae no Nai Uma?), was serialized in the same magazine in 1999, and its chapters were published in a single tankōbon volume on December 9, 1999. From October 12, 2006 through January 12, 2007, Kodansha republished the series in Japan across eight kanzenban special edition volumes, collecting more chapters in each volume.
The manga series was licensed for an English language release in North America by Tokyopop. The first five chapters were serialized in Smile starting in the October 2001 issue, and running until the March 2001 issue. which published all fifteen volumes from April 23, 2003 through November 11, 2003. It released A Horse With No Name on July 13, 2004. Both titles are now considered "out of print" by Tokyopop.
Live action television series
In 2004, a twenty-one episode Taiwanese television series based on the manga series began airing on Chinese Television System. In simplified Chinese: 战神MARS; traditional Chinese: 戰神MARS; pinyin: Zhànshén Mars the characters names are changed to Chinese names, but it otherwise follows the manga's plot. It was voted Favorite Drama of the Year at the 40th Annual 2005 Golden Bell Awards, and was the highest rated program in 2005 when it aired on the Philippine network QTV.
The live-action series uses two pieces of theme music, one opening and one ending theme. "零" (lit. "Zero") by Alan Kuo is used for the opening, while "Rang Wo Ai Ni" by Vic Zhou & Barbie Xu is used for the ending.
In Understanding Manga and Anime, Robin E. Brenner lists the title among her recommendations for "Best Romances and Melodrama", stating that "this manga romance literally has it all: romance, motorcycle races, bullying, haunted pasts, child abuse, friendly transvestites, murder, sociopaths, and more romance." She considered it an appealing "soap opera", and praised the scene where Rei and Kira make love as "gentle, sweet, and very much focused on the emotional impact on this progression in their relationship" versus being focused on "titillating readers". Reviewing the fourth volume to the series for Library Journal, Steve Raiteri considered Soryo's artwork "clean" and felt it did an expert job in "[portaying] Shiori's desperation, Kira's sadness and uncertainty, and Rei's living-in-the-moment changeability". Speaking to the series as a whole, he stated that it would appeal to both teen girls and to older readers due to its "depth and quality".
Though Ross Liversidge the online magazine UK Anime Network had low expectations for the series, he found it to be "flawless". Rating it a 10 out of 10, he considered its strong points to be its "delicate and detailed" artwork and, most importantly, its "normality, stating that it "smacks of a tragedy waiting to happen, and there are times even in this first volume that things start to get serious...but its done so well, and in such an understated manner that its utterly absorbing and keeps your attention." Manga: The Complete Guide's author Jason Thompson highly praised the work, rating it four out of four stars. Calling it a "well-written, tightly plotted romance" that successfully deals with range of "powerful issues" that avoids being "preachy or patronizing", he considered Soryo's artwork to be "clear and attractive". However, he felt the prequel, Mars: Horse With No Name, did not add much to the overall story, noting that only the title story actually relates to the series. While he still praised the artwork and rated it three stars, he also considered the stories were "pale in comparison" to the original.
Manga Life's Park Cooper praised the original Mars, noting that they "love[d] the characters, the story, and the tension that lies within the situations", but did not recommend doing more than browsing Horse With No Name, finding it to be less impressive and unlikely to appeal even to fans of the main series. He felt the titular story, which tells how Kira and Tatsuya became friends, to be "disappointing" and did not find it to be up to the same standard as the main series. However, he praised the second story, "Sleeping Lion", as making the volume worth the purchase and containing "the type of context in the story that got me to love MARS in the first place." The final story, "A One-Carat Fruit", he considered unengaging and left him unable to connect with the central characters. Overall, Cooper noted that while Soryo's artwork was not unique, she created "incredible looking characters" and "did a great job making certain expressions of the characters feel convincing."
- Thompson, Jason (October 9, 2007). Manga: The Complete Guide. New York, New York: Del Rey. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-0-345-48590-8. OCLC 85833345.
- "Mars 1" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- "Mars 15" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- "Mars 外伝 名前のない馬" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- "Mars 1" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- "Mars 8" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 26, 2008.
- Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Citation/CS1/Suggestions' not found.
- "Book Catalog: Mamotte Shugogetten Vol. 5-Mars Vol. 5". Tokyopop. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
- "Book Catalog: Mars Vol. 6-Me & My Brothers Vol 5". Tokyopop. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
- "Mars 1". Tokyopop. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
- "MARS: Horse With No Name". Tokyopop. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
- Brenner, Robin E. (2007). "Adventures with Ninjas and Schoolgirls: Humor and Realism". Understanding Manga and Anime. Libraries Unlimited. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5.
- Brenner, Robin E. (2007). "Recommended Title Lists". Understanding Manga and Anime. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 90–91. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5.
- Raiteri, Steve (January 1, 2003). "Book Review: Mars. Vol. 4: Tokyopop'". Library Journal 128 (1): 84. ISSN 0363-0277.
- Liversidge, Ross (January 1, 2004). "Manga Review: MARS". UK Anime Net. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
- Cooper, Park. "Mars: Horse With No Name". Manga Life. Silver Bullet Comics. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
- Mars (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Official GTV Zhànshén Mars live-action series Template:Th icon