Examining Aquarion Evol Volume 3


Shouji Kawamori’s Sousei no Aquarion franchise has always been typified by its odd hybrid of enigma and humor. The Aquarion Evol manga adaptation’s third volume plys both characteristics in equal measure. The volume is rather light on action, choosing instead to focus heavily on developing supporting characters.

The third volume of writer Shouji Kawamori & artist Aogiri’s Aquarion Evol manga runs two parallel stories that parallel the climax of the previous volume. The third volume introduces shy transfer student Yunoha Thrul, a girl afraid of lonliness yet also so terrified of interpersonal interaction that she literally develops the ability to turn invisible. Her entry into the Deava academy is followed shortly by the introduction of the male transfer student Akbarjin Batbayar, the not-very-well disguised Altairian spy “Jin,” who infiltrates the school slightly more gracefully than his compatriot Kagura did at the end of the second book. Jin’s unease over suddenly being exposed to females creates some humorous pratfalls and misunderstandings, and his fear of the intimidating species known as “woman,” is naturally mistaken for shyness, leading him to commiserate with fellow transfer student Yunoha. To its credit, the manga volume references the anime tropes associated with the transfer student but doesn’t use them as a storytelling crutch. Rather than fall into situational drama over the transfer student becoming alienated, bullied, or idolized by the surrounding student body, the manga instead focuses squarely on the new students themselves, relegating the surrounding cast a bit into the background temporarily. As a result, Yunoha is introduced as a kind, sympathetic character while Jin is allowed to progress through a familiar but still believable character development arc.

Jin appeared as a minor background character in the second manga volume, so his prominence in the third volume is a welcome addition that further diversifies the cast’s spectrum of personalities. However, after now having two different Altairian operatives interact with humans, the reader has to wonder why the Altairians don’t simply begin conversing with Earthlings to resolve their lack-of-women problem instead of continuing to attack humans and attempt to kidnap an ideal breeding stock female. The third manga volume includes only two giant robot battles that bookend the volume. Slipping backward into the visual style of the first book, once again the robot battles are illustrated with a rather choppy, confusing depiction that makes following the exact motion of the battles difficult. Further confusing is Jin’s tendency, carried over from the second book, to be very decisive and aggressive while piloting a mecha yet mopey and tentative whenever outside of a cockpit.


Aquarion Evol volume 3 is definitely not a “jumping on point” for new readers, nor should a volume 3 necessarily be such an entry point. Readers that have enjoyed the first two volumes may find the slower, more focused pace and tone of the third book refreshing and satisfying, especially after the first volume is so hyperkinetic and the second book more focused but also more tonally bipolar. The third volume feels like an opportunity to take a breath and slow the maniac pace and jittery focus. The book’s cliffhanger ending will also certainly have readers hungry for the next volume.

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