When Captain Tanaka took a few rookie cadets and some support staff into space, he thought he was dealing with a single, albeit very large Sharg ship. It has since been revealed to be one of many coming to invade Earth. They are now dramatically outnumbered and outgunned with little hope of stopping this threat before it reaches their home. This is a crossroads. They can continue to futilely fight back this menace…or put their hope in the man-made Hero Force 2 Suprarobo. Both choices could spell doom.
Stanford is at the center of this as his mech, Buddy has opted to sacrifice himself to launch Hero Force 2. We learn how the robot came to this decision in a gorgeous double-page spread from artist Takeshi Miyazawa that tugs hard on the heartstrings. To put it simply, Stanford has been such a great kid, that Buddy learned this heroic and selfless behavior from him.
Throughout Mech Cadet Yu, this young man has stepped up and helped others, constantly doing the right thing even if it meant looking foolish or getting embarrassed. We can all learn something from Stanford You. Images from the past from Buddy’s perspective pop up in front of the cadet, showing all these good deeds he’s done in the short time they’ve been together. It’s an inspiring image that even catches Stanford offguard. That’s how good of a kid he is. He didn’t even notice that he was doing all this. It’s just his nature!
Buddy is smaller than most of the other mechs, but he more than makes up for it with heart. This tiny robo flies head first into a horde of Sharg beasts, determined to get back to the base to help everyone. This leads to some of the most crushing imagery as he tries to push his way through the superior forces. It’s more than a little sad that this kind, caring robot will be forced to trade his soul in order for this heartless man-made monster to live, but that’s what it will take to save the world.
Miyazawa and colorist Jessica Kholinne give the Sharg an unnatural look and feel. Whereas Stanford, Buddy, and the rest of the characters appear warm and welcoming (for the most part), the Sharg are rough beasts. They’re like a mix of all the animals that creep people out, like crabs, spiders, scorpions, and sharks. They’re darker than anything else that appears in the comic.
Each of the Sharg’s attacks hit with these powerful and frightening sounds. Their claws rip and tear through everything they touch. Letterer Simon Bowland raises the excitement level with the sound effects here. I also like how he color codes the radio dialogue from the cadets while they’re in their mechs. It’s a nice effect to distinguish them from one another.
The action is intensified by Miyazawa’s artwork. He adds these blurred lines around the mechs and Sharg at times to indicate movement. You can practically feel each blow as it’s delivered.
I could go on and on about Mech Cadet Yu, but at this point, you just need to read it for yourself. This is an incredible book that will speak to readers young and old. It is packed with adventure, excitement, and inspiration. Writer Greg Pak has crafted an amazing story that is so full of heart. It’s like The Iron Giant on steroids.