Wednesday, November 30, 2016


That's right, it's almost December once more, so it's time for my annual Advent Calender of reviews!  Every day from tomorrow until Christmas,  I will be posting a review of some of the best (and worst) new manga titles to come out in 2016.

That also means that once again, it's time for The Manga Test Drive's Annual Holiday Giveaway!  As always, the way to enter is simple: just leave a comment below about the best new manga you read this year.  New or old, short or long, it doesn't matter so long as it was new to you!  The winner is chosen at random to receive a $25 RightStuf gift certificate so that they hopefully can pick up some of the titles we talk about this month.  The contest ends on Christmas Day, so don't delay with those comments!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Let's be honest, everything this month has been building up to this review.  Part of that is because this manga itself is a retelling of the story that started it all.  The other part is that this manga truly is the gold standard for not just Gundam manga, but for mecha manga as a whole.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN (Kido Senshi Gandamu The Origin), by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, based on the original story by Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate and mechanical designs by Kunio Okawara.  First published in 2001 and first published in North America in 2002.


In UC 0079, the Earth Federation forces are locked in battle with the Principality of Zeon, a rogue space colony that yearns for both independence and conquest.  The other colonies are caught in the middle of this conflict, and it is during one of these battles that young Amuro Ray finds himself piloting the Earth's latest mobile suit: the Gundam.  Now he's stuck on a ship full of junior officers and civilians, forced to fight in a war he never volunteered for, and facing down ace mobile suit pilot Char Aznable and the forces of Zeon in an effort to make it back to Earth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Of course, there's more to Gundam manga than tossed-off adaptations of the actual shows.  There are loads of manga-exclusive spinoffs, although the vast majority of them have not reached our shores.  Today's review is one of those rare exceptions, and a UC continuity one no less.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: ECOLE DU CIEL (Kido Senshi Gundamu: Ekooru dyu Shieru), based on the series by Hajime Yatate & Yoshiyuki Tomino, with art by Haruhiko Mikimoto, mechanic design by Yoshinori Sayama, & produced by OUTASIGHT.  First published in 2002 and first published in North America in 2005.


It is UC Year 0085, and Asuna is starting her first year in pilot training at Ecole du Ciel.  Sadly, Asuna is at the bottom of class.  She struggles with learning the controls as well as social scorn.  That's bound to happen when your father was not only a Zeon sympathizer, but also expects you to be the perfect pilot from the day you were born.  Just as Asuna is finding her place with her peers, they are put into some seriously non-simulated danger by forces outside their control.  It will now take all their skill to survive.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


At least Gundam Wing is fairly beloved, at least as far as Gundam series go.  Today's selection is an adaptation of one of the most divisive entries in the franchise, and like the last review its adaptation doesn't do it any favors.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM SEED (Kido Senshi Gandamu Shido), based on the story by Hajime Yatate & Yoshiyuki Tomino & art by Masatsugu Iwase.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2004.


In the Cosmic Era, war rages between the genetically enhanced Coordinators and the unmodified Earth forces for control of the space colonies orbiting Earth.  For Kira Yamato, though, it was just a distant conflict until he was shanghaied into service to pilot the Earth's latest secret weapon: the Gundam.  Now he and his friends have been conscripted into battle, but in doing so his darkest secret is brought to light and a former best friend becomes his enemy.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Around this time last year I covered all of the Evangelion manga, which was no small undertaking.  I figured that it would finally be time to cover the only other mecha manga franchise to rival it: Gundam.  While we haven't gotten as nearly as many Gundam manga as Japan has, we've gotten more than enough for a month's worth of reviews (and then some).  So why don't we start where most Gundam fans in the States started?

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING (Shin Kido Senki Gandamu Wingu), based on the story by Hajime Yadate & Yoshiyuki Tomino with art by Koichi Tokita.  First published in 1995 and first published in North America in 2000.


In the year After Colony 195, humanity has spread from earth to space, but those in the space colonies are suppressed by the Earth Allied Forces and OZ, the secret society that guides their every move.  To fight them, five young men with powerful mobile suits are separately sent to Earth to fight them...that is, if they can stop fighting amongst themselves and the mysterious Zechs Marquise long enough to do so.