Otaku USA Magazine
New JUMP+ Manga Astro Baby Is Already Intriguingly Weird

Astro Baby, now on Jump+

There’s a fresh new manga hot off the presses this month, and its first chapter has already got us intrigued. Shiro Moriya is back with Astro Baby, which debuted February 2 via Shonen Jump’s JUMP+ site and app. Fortunately for the rest of the world, it’s also on Viz’s SJ app — so we can read as it comes out!

The first chapter of the new series is almost 80 pages long, getting us off to a running start with the small-town sci-fi story. Here’s all you need to know to jump in.


Previous Works

Soloist in a Cage

Manga enjoyers may know Astro Baby creator Shiro Moriya from his previous work, Soloist in a Cage. The dystopian thriller, which ran from 2018 to 2021, follows orphaned siblings Chloe and Locke as they attempt to escape a city-sized prison. The series was praised for its beautiful artwork — which you can enjoy for yourself via Shueisha’s Manga Plus website or in print editions from Seven Seas.

Moriya’s gorgeous and multifaceted artwork is on display again in this new title, mixing stylish character work with old-school cartoonish moments. Characters even interact with speech bubbles in the manga’s more comical moments. But those comical moments are interspersed throughout a strange, dark piece of science fiction.


The Plague


Astro Baby kicks off in flashback, showing young protagonist Billy witnessing what looks for all the world like a zombie attack. We quickly learn that that’s only sort of right. Six years on, the truth is clearer and much more accepted. A disease named Couper-29 makes its host hungry for human flesh. And the strange disease emerged from a meteorite.

There is some hope, though. For one thing, the infected have been quarantined to one small peninsula. For another, Couper is very difficult to transmit, and it seems to have a limit to how far it can spread. In other words, an end is in sight. And Billy has returned years later to join the fight against it. Oh, and to try to get together with his childhood crush.


A New Peril

A strange meteor

Billy, now 16, has set his sights on Eleanor — who’s a bit older than him. She’s also pregnant with her ex-husband’s child, who’s due to be born any day now. Oh, and Elly is one of the scientists researching the Couper outbreak. Billy is aiming to become the new man in Elly’s life. But for a number of reasons, that’s becoming increasingly unlikely.

We won’t spoil the end of the first chapter, because it’s a doozy. But suffice to say it’s a compelling and emotional read. And while Billy’s carefully-planned new life may not go as he intended, it seems he may end up becoming something of a dad after all.

Start reading Astro Baby on the Viz website!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.