Having successfully annulled the engagement pact in Volume 3 of A Galaxy Next Door, two months have passed peacefully for Shiori and Ichiro. As we get into Volume 4 we find that instead of romance worries, the two are embroiled in their manga work and facing plenty of challenges there!
As we reunite with our cast we find Shiori moving from assistant work into creating a manga of her very own, which she plans to submit to a newcomers’ contest that’s coming up. Meanwhile, Ichiro receives news that his current series will be ending, so he needs to think about how to wrap it up in the chapters he’s got left.
Valentine’s Day is approaching, when the two hope to make time for each other amidst their busy schedules. Shiori gets Ichiro to look over her work but this leaves him with mixed feelings. It’s immediately clear to him that Shiori is very talented and will go far in the industry, which he’s happy about as her partner but as a creator himself, he can’t help but harbour some jealousy when his series is prematurely coming to a close. Will he be able to overcome these feelings and support her endeavours or will this drive a wedge between the two?
One of my minor criticisms of A Galaxy Next Day so far is the fact that it sidelined the manga-creating storylines in favour of focusing on romance and slice-of-life elements. So, I’m very happy to see the author switch focus to this side of things and it’s just as engrossing and heartfelt as the rest of the series.
As Volume 4 goes on, Shiori ends up having some of her work published and then she has to deal with seeing people both praise and criticise it online. At home on the island she’d never dealt with negativity aimed at her (aside from her mother) so seeing people say bad things about her work quickly sends her into a depression. Worse still, she tries to keep these feelings to herself instead of sharing them with Ichiro.
Eventually, she does tell Ichiro who, to his credit, is very honest with her about the realities of working in a creative industry like this. Part of putting her work out there for anyone to read means not everyone will like it. That doesn’t make any abuse or personal attacks okay, but criticisms of the work itself are part of the job. I appreciated this conversation because not only does it feel grounded in reality, but you get the sense that the author is talking from personal experience.
A Galaxy Next Door is always fun and heart-warming, but I’m pleased it doesn’t shy away from more negative situations either. The manga strikes a good balance both in terms of its storylines and the development of the cast. Shiori has grown a lot as a person even just in these four instalments and I’m looking forward to seeing her develop from here on, particularly now she’s entered into the manga industry as a creator herself and not just an assistant.
Volume 4 of A Galaxy Next Door comes to the West thanks to Kodansha. The translation has swapped hands from Rose Padgett to Max Greenway, but there are no inconsistencies or issues to speak of and there are helpful translation notes at the back of the book as before. Volume 5 of the series is set for an English release in July, but if you can’t wait to see more of this series until then, you’ll be pleased to hear that the anime adaptation will begin in April!
Overall, A Galaxy Next Door Volume 4 changes direction to focus on Shiori and Ichiro working on their careers, which gives us some heartfelt exchanges between the two. If you’ve been enjoying the series up until now, then you’ll be pleased to hear it continues to be a must-read.