Mech Cadet Yu #1
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa, Triona Farrell
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Published by BOOM! Studios
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
There’s something delightfully nostalgic about the way Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell illustrate Mech Cadet Yu. Miyazawa creates a sleek, streamlined world that Farrell fills with bright retro-futuristic pops of orange and vibrant teal, with a playfulness that feels a little closer to the aesthetic of Speed Racer than other mech-centered anime like Gundam Wing. Miyazawa and Farrell touch on longstanding visual tropes throughout the genre to build a world with a deceptive, visual surface charm that together with Greg Pak’s strong writing still hints at an ominous underbelly.
Created by Pak and Miyazawa, Mech Cadet Yu #1 introduces us to Sky Corps Academy, a military school that trains young men and women up to pilot robo mechs. The catch: the robo mechs appear in small groups every four years, and choose their own pilots. Stanford Yu’s dream of being a Sky Cadet comes true in the worst possible way when a rogue robo mech crash-lands miles from his designated arrival point.
The good news: the robo mech chooses Stanford, to his delight. The bad news: the robo mech chose Stanford, to the government’s great chagrin, making Stanford an outcast amongst the elite squad of young pilots of which he’s now a member. Pak has created a charming young protagonist in Stanford, a headstrong and curious young boy with a good heart and a quick temper that Pak gives incredible depth to just one issue in.
Miyazawa’s robo mechs are some of the highlights of the issue, their designs seeming to serve as a visual shorthand for their intentions, good or bad. The newly arrived mechs have sleek, rounded bodies, looking as youthful as the children they’re choosing to be their pilots and friends. Mech pilot hero Skip Tanaka’s mech is as grizzled and worn as its pilot, more “adult” but still friendly in its own way, while the first government-built robo mech is a little closer to an EVA unit than Baymax with its unsettling sharp angles and the eerie yellow glow Triona Farrell gives it. No two mechs in the series are alike, each as unique as their pilot, with thoughtful design touches that make pilots and easy to match - Cadet Park’s severe haircut and the dangerous-looking mech she’s designed, or stout Cadet Olivetti and his similarly stout mech.
There’s a sweetness to Pak’s writing, buoyed by Miyazawa and Farrell’s art and even small touches in Simon Bowland’s lettering. Bowland makes the mechs’ simple dialogue cute and urgent in equal measure, and the bold font colors for the law enforcement agents that chase down Stanford after he meets his new mech manages to be visually startling and an excellent fit with Farrell’s palette. Mech Cadet Yu #1 is perfectly paced, a fun comic for readers of all ages with an undercurrent of government intrigue and emotional turmoil that promises plenty of exciting reveals as the story unfolds.