Tadayasu Sawaki was born with a very unique talent: he can see and interact with bacteria. To him, each strain of bacteria looks and acts differently, they talk, and he can pick them out of the air. Now he is off to Agricultural University, and both staff and students will call on his unique ability.
Tadayasu understandably has a mixed view of his “talent” as it meant strange looks and rejection by others while growing up, but at the same time allowed him to interact and even make friends with these tiny germ characters. His unusual skill has remained a secret from most of the staff and students at Agricultural University, but one professor and his sceptical assistant already know about it, and plan to use it in their ongoing research.
During his first days on campus Tadayasu meets the unusual and rather creepy Professor Keizo Itsuki who has an obsession with fermentation and wants Tadayasu to work with him. He found out about Tadayasu’s skill from his grandfather, but it remains unclear throughout this first volume of Moyasimon if the Professor is taking an interest for the good of agriculture or some other darker reason.
We also meet Kei Yuki, long-time friend of Tadayasu and son of a sake brewer who is also a freshman at the University. Other characters introduced in this first volume are Professor Itsuki’s female assistant and grad student Haruka Hasegawa, and the student pairing of Kaoru Misato and Takuma Kawahama.
Misato and Kawahama are an accident waiting to happen and our first encounter with them results in a disaster with some bootleg sake production. Destroying an entire floor of a University building puts them in a lot of debt with the University, plus they lost all the money gathered from fellow students to make the sake in the first place. With no way out they join Professor Itsuki in the lab experimenting with fermentation and earthworms for fun (they help cure a common cold apparently).
Our focus always returns to Tadayasu though, and his skill has clearly never been developed beyond a passing interest in the bacteria he can see. At Agricultural University, however, his mind will be focused and the true potential of his talent revealed. That depends, of course, on whether Tadayasu chooses to study, or instead just aid Misato and Kawahama in their bid to make money. Professor Itsuki will surely try to stop that happening, but at the same time the sceptical assistant Haruka Hasegawa may throw up a few obstacles for Tadayasu to deal with.
Moyasimon carries a 16+ rating. This isn’t down to any violence or real adult-themes, but more to do with the subjects being covered which have focused on alcohol and alcohol production so far. It can also be a little text-heavy when the Professor gets into one of his explanatory rants, but this is also quite an informative tale, and you learn a few facts about bacteria and how they can help or harm you along the way.
Del Rey has seen fit to leave in the little comments made by the author that frequently appear down the side of a page. We also get little outtakes about the different types of bacteria being referred to, regular reminders of who the main characters are, and a generous set of translation notes to boot.
As an introduction, the story is setup well and I am looking forward to reading the second volume which is out late in June. Learning about bacteria, wanting to know what Professor Itsuki’s real plans are for Tadayasu, and finding out what money-making disaster Misato and Kawahama can dream up next already has me hooked.
A promising start for a series already well-received in Japan.