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A, A¹ (A, A Prime) by Moto Hagio

A, A¹ (A, A Prime) (edition 1997)

by Moto Hagio

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864277,277 (3.73)3
Title:A, A¹ (A, A Prime)
Authors:Moto Hagio
Info:VIZ Media LLC (1997), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:manga, shoujo, bl or very close

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A, A′ by Moto Hagio


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Great manga. A classic. ( )
  bit-of-a-list-tiger | Jul 7, 2018 |
Moto Hagio’s A, A’ is probably the manga that most closely resembles the writing of Anne McCaffrey. There are innumerable parallels between A, A’s stories and McCaffrey’s various series (and probably other early science fiction genre writing), but fortunately for the reader Hagio more than makes up for McCaffrey’s heteronormativity. Infused with homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, intersexism, coming of age sexuality awakening and transgenderism, Hagio takes the space romance formula that McCaffrey and others popularized and mixes in the spice of her creative boy’s love Talent (pun intended).

On the surface, the stories in A, A’ depict humanity of the future as moving out into the galaxy with the help of genetic manipulation, cloning or extrasensory perceptive powers (in much the same way as McCaffrey’s Talents, Pern and Petaybee series. After some old-school shoujo melodrama, a romance is shortly kindled (which is present in the majority of McCaffrey works) and the climax revolves around the two lovers being reunited after being torn apart by separation or death or even amnesia. Additionally, one of Hagio’s stories is decidedly Ice Punk, a genre McCaffrey helped popularize. Much like McCaffrey’s Talents, Hagio’s Unicorns (easily an homage to the Acorna the Unicorn Girl series) are highly sensitive and/or empathic and act as a kind of Gestalt (to borrow a McCaffrey term) to amplify other’s psychic powers. Finally, Hagio gives her Unicorns repressed memories from a traumatic childhood, memories that only the love-interest can help resurface (the plot device that serves as the basis for McCaffrey’s The Rowan and other stories).

As an avid reader of McCaffrey (despite her political leanings), I enjoyed the parallels and homages that Hagio employed in A, A’. Yet, without the classic shoujo melodrama, homosexuality and beautifully expressive artwork, A, A’ simply wouldn’t captivate. As the grandmother of boy’s love manga, Moto Hagio has a rare talent for writing and crafting manga and continues to inspire in any genre. ( )
1 vote senbei | Jan 27, 2014 |
This collection brings together three works of shōjo manga by Moto Hagio, whose work I previously enjoyed in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. The works in that collection spanned her entire career (1977-2008), whereas these three all come from 1981, and are all set in the same future milieu, where Earth's colonization of the solar system was aided by a genetically engineered raced called "unicorns." Unicorns have a distinctive mane of red hair (hence, apparently, the name), as well as adaptations to make them good early settlers: they can see in infrared, for example, and they are also emotionally detached. The race is largely extinct at the point the stories in A, A′ occur, but they interbred with normal humans, and occasional throwbacks ("atavisms") exist.

In "A, A′ [A, A Prime]," Addy (one of these atavisms) has died after three years on a distant science outpost, and her clone is dispatched to take her place. She and a man there had been in love, and now they must negotiate what it's like for both of them when she doesn't have any memories of their relationship. It's the best story in the book, with a couple standout moments that are both beautiful and melancholy, such as when Addy alone can see a solar flare in the infrared. I'm not sure what to think of the ending, but I think it works in context.

"4/4 [Quatre/Quarts]" is about a teenage boy named Mori who has strong telekinetic potential, but can't seem to harness it except when in the presence of a very isolated unicorn named Trill. The two are drawn to each other, somehow creating a whole in union that neither of them can achieve alone, two emotional isolates who only respond to each other. It's a darker and more disturbing story than "A, A′," with much more tragedy. The unicorns are shown to experience emotions, just not in the way others expect, which leads to tragedy.

The second half of the book is taken up by one longer story, "X + Y," which focuses at first on a unicorn named Tacto and then a college-age Mori. Tacto seems to be male, but his genes indicate that he is XX, but he seems uninterested in his gender anyway. Meanwhile, Mori finds himself falling in love with this boy despite himself. The two face prejudice as well as their own uncertainties, and some dark secrets in Tacto's past. I liked this one, though Tacto's habit of talking in the third person took a lot of use getting used to. Again, much of the difficulty centers on Tacto's own emotional processes, which exist, but aren't quite like a baseline human's. There's some interesting stuff going on with gender here, as well as some beautiful moments involving kite-flying, which Mori has taken up as a hobby since "4/4." The last two pages are gorgeous.

Moto Hagio's art is great throughout, though I think I'm not quite enmeshed enough in the manga tradition to make the character distinctions that are sometimes required of me. Her sf works in a different register to the one than I am used to, and I am glad that I am getting to know it; I look forward to picking up more of her translated work in the future.
  Stevil2001 | May 19, 2013 |
Actually, three stories.
One involves the death of Addy, who had a clone of herself made earlier on (Thus A,A'.) The clone goes to take up Addy's old assignment and meets the man who was "her" lover, bringing up interesting questions of identity.
The second (4/4) focuses on a boy with powers of telekinesis and his relationship with a young girl, a member of a rare race , who is so withdrawn that she supposedly has no emotions at all.
The third, and longest, "X+Y" takes one of the characters from 4/4 and has him meet another of this rare race ("Unicorns".) This one, especially, is packed full of questions of gender and sexuality (but is not extremely explicit in its graphics.)
They're all interesting character studies, though they do have the sort of manga emotional tone that can grate on me - people act in ways that are extremely unlikely.Characters fall in love in a few moments - declaring "I'm in love with you!" - then later are not in love for some unknown reason. They set forth ideas that would be the mark of a very clichéd sf book in English - A race of super-smart people with a red stripe of hair running along their scalp from front to back, called "Unicorns", (who are either genetically manufactured or atavistic, I can't really tell which) who are all emotionally strange and talk about themselves in the third person.
But there's a slice of manga (usually of the "romantic" type) in which this is the accepted way of things, so if you can take it in stride you will be treated to
Moto Hagio using the science fiction framework to get at ideas of identity, sexual choice, and gender. He shows an understanding of the potential of the sf genre, and utilizes it skillfully in a way that many writers could take to heart. ( )
  amandrake | Jun 10, 2008 |
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Moto Hagioprimary authorall editionscalculated
Thorn, MattTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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