|Japanese Title||メッセージ |
|Release Date||July 4, 2011|
|WSJ Issue||30, 2011|
|Next Chapter||Chapter 2 |
Start of the Entrance Exam
UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) 2019.08.10 3:02:40AM: A message has reached Earth.
One month later, on September 1, 2019, before the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a large audience gathers in an amphitheater just outside. The Secretary-General of the United Nations invites everyone around the world to listen in on their broadcast. He starts with a question: What would people in the future say about this day? He proclaims they'd say this day would be as important as the day the Earth formed, as they now know they are not alone in the universe. The crowd erupts in cheers with some American flags waving within.
In an earlier agreement with the International Association of Astronautics (IAA), should extraterrestrial signals be discovered, it must be confirmed by worldwide observers and facilities before it becomes public. Upon validation, the information on the signal shall be released immediately, with the discoverer holding the first rights to announce it.
The Secretary-General confirms that the message they had received one month ago is, unlike in the past, real without a mistake. He presents the person behind the discovery of the message, astronomer Drake Collins' granddaughter, Fifie Collins. The crowd murmurs upon realization that Fifie is actually a young girl. A TV network frantically searches up Fifie's background as she prepares to present her discovery. Nervously, Fifie introduces herself as an American. Already, the crowd erupts again in a loud cheer. Fifie struggles to finish her presentation, so the Secretary-General comforts her. The TV network discovers that Fifie is actually a child prodigy, having skipped grades, graduated from university at the age of 10 and discovered many supernovas too. The network attempts to get as many shots of her as they can. Meanwhile, Fifie reveals that she and her grandfather actually discovered the message together in an observation, but because of his legs, he couldn't make it with her to New York, so she had to come alone. She reveals the time the message was sent: 06:35:27, August 10, 2019, UTC. She then reveals where the message was sent from: An area commonly known as the Winter Milky Way, in the opposite direction from the center of the galaxy, where the Gemini and Auriga constellations can be seen. Finally, she reveals the decoded message as follows:
July 7, 2035: Let's meet on Mars.
The crowd is shocked into silence. Gradually, they clap and start to make another loud applause.
One month after this public announcement, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs had renamed itself as the Space agency for Transcedent & Revolutionary technology of Spaceman, otherwise known as ST&RS. It changed it mission, announcing a program to send mankind on Mars on the Promised Day. Since then, an astronomical amount of funds and resources were allocated to build a Mars-bound rocket. In 2022, 50 years after the Apollo project, humans set foot on the Moon once again. Nowadays, massive space stations orbit the Earth and the Moon. To educate the staff, space academies were established all across the world regardless of sex and age. All of this was for the sake of mankind's largest project: To set foot on Mars on the Promised Day.
Meanwhile, on the same day that message reached Earth, on August 10, 2019, 12:02:40AM, JST (Japan Standard Time, UTC+09:00), in a certain town along the Pacific Ocean in Northern Kantō region, Japan, a certain baby boy spoke for the very first time...
"Mars..." the baby spoke. The baby is Maho Shirafune, 1 year and 3 months old. His mother, Umika Shirafune is delighted and calls his father, Kajio Shirafune, over. In an outburst of excitement to Umika's concern, he shakes Maho frantically and demands for him to say his first word again. Maho repeats his first word, "Mars". Kajio wonders why "Mars" is his first word and considers the television. Umika debunks the television as the program it broadcasted has nothing to do with Mars. Holding Maho up, Kajio proclaims Maho's dream to become an astronaut and go to Mars. Umika is stunned at his rather blunt dream, to which Kajio throws Maho up in the air and proclaims it's great to have big dreams. From then on, Kajio and Umika raise their son Maho for his dream.
14 years later, in December of 2033 at Seiun Middle School class 3-2, a girl sitting next to Maho tries to call him as he stares blankly out the classroom window with binoculars. He tries to look for something in the sky that should be flying, which should have at least a faint glimpse. Suddenly, he spots a star, which actually turns out to be his teacher's hand flying towards the telescope, hurting his eyes. The teacher had caught him again looking outside the window during their math class. 15 year old Maho claims the Third Space Station had been completed the day before and that he wanted to see it during the middle of the day. He calls his teacher mean, to which he teacher claims he's too noisy. As the class laughs at Maho, the girl in disgust quietly calls him an idiot. Tired of Maho, the teacher proceeds to call on 15 year old Wataru Amachi, who had just finished solving a problem on the chalkboard. As Amachi walks back towards his desk, the teacher smiles at him. He expresses his gratitude for Amachi transferring into their school before their exams to raise everyone's morale. He makes an announcement to the class for the exams that will begin after the new year and calls for everyone to learn from Amachi (and especially Maho). Maho apologizes to Amachi for leaving his problem on the board behind. Amachi forgives him. Looking outside the window, Maho still wishes to see the Space Station and claims that the next time he'll be able to see it is a week later.
On break in the classroom, the girl, Maho's 15 year old childhood friend Meguru Hoshihara, breathes a long sigh, noticed by Maho. Meguru claims his mother told her to keep an eye out for him. Maho claims he didn't ask her to, to which Meguru bursts into yelling for him to shut up and calling him a space idiot. She reminds him that they have less than three months to the exams and asks if he wants to fail, reminding him of the country's low birth rate. Nearby, Amachi is tutoring two girls when he spots Maho and Meguru. He asks one of the girls about Maho, to which the other girl points that Amachi just transferred, so he knows nothing about him. She explains that Maho is a complete space geek who thinks about nothing but space. She points that his behavior was like so earlier in class too. She then recalls being in elementary school with him, where he spent his summer project reciting the names of stars. She also recalls Maho being yelled at for drawing a planetarium all over the school. Another student claims Maho is harmless as the exams are coming soon, to which Meguru finally overhears their gossiping on Maho. She begs Amachi to help tutor him. A student asks if Meguru just wants to go to the same school as him, to which she claims she's just worried about him. As the girls keep talking, Amachi stares at Maho as he blows his nose with a tissue and throws it perfectly into the trash can.
Back in class, the teacher notes that Maho and Amachi are the only students left who haven't filled in forms for which high school entrance exams they want to take and tells them to pick up their forms from him later. He then asks Maho which high school he wants to go to. Maho says he plans to enter the Space Academy, to which the class stares and chuckles at him. He stands up and says he wants to go to Mars because the aliens are coming in less than two years. Meguru is stunned as Maho claims there's an exam over the winter holiday that wants to attend. The teacher tells Maho to take his life seriously, then resolves to ask him again next year. Amachi is quiet.
Cleaning the schoolyard outside class, Meguru is outraged as she asks Maho if he can pass the Space Academy exam alone. Maho aspires to be like Usubaru, the first Japanese man who landed on Mars, also graduated from the Space Academy, while Meguru resolves that Maho hasn't really thought about it at all.
More coming soon...
Characters in order of appearanceEdit
- Fifie Collins
- Maho Shirafune
- Umika Shirafune
- Kajio Shirafune
- Meguru Hoshihara
- Wataru Amachi
- Keiichirō Usubaru (flashback)
- Noboru Amachi
- Fumihiko Nakayama
- Yūko Mimuro