Reviewing volumes 1-10 of the Clockwork Planet manga (the entire series). Story by Yuu Kamiya and Tsubaki Himana. Manga by Kuro. Character design by Sino. Published by Kodansha Comics.
This series came through work lately and I was so impressed by the concept I had to grab all ten volumes and read them in a short time. At some unknown time, the Earth stopped spinning. Everything was going to be lost, all life would end. Thankfully a mysterious engineer named “Y” began transforming the Earth to move again through millions of billions worth of gears and dials and other clockwork mechanisms. Some of these gears are so large entire cities are built on top of them. All of the gears must function together but there is a failsafe in case one gear fails. Occasionally a malfunctioning gear must be purged and this leads to the destruction of the entire city on top, and the deaths of all citizens still inside.
Our story begins a thousand years later. We first meet Naoto Miura who dreams of making his own automation (a humanoid made up of clockwork) but struggles to make sense of school or interact with other students. One day a crate crashes into Naoto’s room and inside is RyuZU, one of the greatest automations ever created, because she was created by Y. Yet RyuZU hasn’t worked in over 200 years. While Naoto can’t write a school paper on how clocks work he can hear them work and listen for what’s wrong. Naoto’s hearing is so good he has to wear headphones or else be overwhelmed by the workings of the entire world. Naoto listens to RyuZU’s gears and finds the one problem hidden within millions of gears. Upon fixing this, RyuZu wakes up and accepts Naoto as her master.
Meanwhile, the youngest master clockmaker and princess, Marie Bell Breguet is looking for a missing automation, (yup, RyuZU). Before she can settle that though she is pulled away to investigate a failing gear. Marie is accompanied by her own automation and bodyguard Halter. Marie uncovers a plot to let the Kyoto gear fail and after a chance meeting with Naoto and RyuZU the team is now together to fix the gears, uncover the conspiracy, and save the planet. Along the way they are joined by RyuZU’s sister AnchoR and Vermouth (to tell would be to spoil the fun of who Vermouth is).
I absolutely loved this manga and I’ll be watching the 12 episodes of the anime in short order as well. This team is reluctantly together but they know the fate of the world depends on all of them. There’s fighting, there’s banter, there’s jokes, there’s genuine pissed off moments of hate but deep down they never fail to work together.
Naoto in my opinion is on the autism spectrum. He takes in too much information, and sees the world in his own unique way. Even explaining how he sees the world to others is overwhelming to hear. Try experiencing it every day. Naoto can hear any problem and diagnose the problem down to the gear number. It’s more than just fixing an automation or the planet itself. Throughout the series Naoto seems to know the right thing to say when his own team is not working together. He is the first to move forward no matter the risks. He refuses to give up and this drive inspires everyone around him to keep going as well.
I won’t spoil a series I want people to read and after the set up it’s tough to keep talking about the book without ruining it. RyuZU has amazing weapons for battle and when she meets up with AnchoR it’s the first fight I’ve read that takes place not in the real world but in a place of theoretical physics. Time, space, and other dimensions become mere playthings for two of the most advanced creations ever built.
While the story starts in Kyoto the conspiracy grows bigger and the stakes higher. New villains and concepts are constantly introduced. There are many moments in which I was sure there was no possible way out. All of this is well balanced with many humorous moments from the entire group. Vermouth alone is a source of great joy and great anger.
The art throughout this entire series was incredible. I loved the lighter moments and laughed or smiled along with the group. But the battles are so huge, action packed, and insanely detailed I thought the pages themselves were unfolding in a pocket dimension. I couldn’t believe so much attention fit in my hands.
The series has been complete for awhile and the anime is available on Crunchy Roll. I plan on revisiting this series again and again over my life and the concept has opened my mind to new possibilities in story telling.