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(1963- ) Japanese author of light-hearted, occasionally bawdy Space Operas much-loved in Japanese Fandom; regarded alongside Motoko Arai as a pioneer in the serialized Young Adult chapbook format known in Japan as Light Novels. He has remained prominent, in part because of canny publishers that periodically rebrand his work with newer imagery; his debut work Yōsei Sakusen ["Fairy War"] (1984 4vols) first appeared as four separately published novellas, but has twice been reprinted with different covers and interior art, in order to move with swift-changing times and trends. It and its subsequent volumes posit a "Solar System Space Command" formed in 1973 by the combination of the world's various government agencies dedicated to investigation of UFOs, repurposed as an early-warning system to prevent Alien attack.
Sasamoto's rise to fame paralleled the sudden boom in Anime sf on video and the concomitant flooding of Japanese conventions with "otaku", a new generation of fans with a professed interest in the Media Landscape. He wrote episodes of the Dirty Pair Anime series (see Haruka Takachiho), co-wrote the animated film Venus Senki (1989; vt Venus Wars), and was credited as the scenarist in the adaptation of his own ARIEL (1986-2004 20vols), a tongue-in-cheek series about schoolgirl Mecha pilots defending the Earth from alien attack; the title is an acronym for "All-Round Intercept and Escort Lady". His subsequent textual work has been in a similar vein, including the corporate Superheroes of Komusume Overdrive ["Little Girl Overdrive"] (1994) and his reframing of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff (1979) with all-girl astronauts in Hoshi no Pilot ["Star Pilot"] (1997), the second volume of which won a Seiun Award. However, neither of these works made the expected jump to anime, presumably because of mildly disappointing results for the Ariel cartoons.
Sasamoto gained further accolades at the turn of the century as an essayist, beginning with Uchū e no Passport: Rocket Uchiage Shuzai Nikki 1999-2001 ["Passport to Space: Rocket Launch Diary 1999-2001"] (2002), chronicling the tourism, misadventures and observations of a club of Japanese authors and artists, travelling to witness rocket launches in the USA and Japan. Later volumes investigated the people and drama surrounding particular technologies, with an increasing focus on the aspirations of Japan's own space programme. Unsurprisingly, these diaries touched a significant sector of Convention-going Fandom, and all three volumes won Seiun Awards.
His most recent, and arguably most successful series began with Minisuka Uchū Kaizoku ["Miniskirt Space Pirates"] (2008), a comedy in which a teenage schoolgirl discovers that she is the owner of a hereditary and untransferable letter of marque that compels her to become a privateer captain in a distant space war. Accepting due to a very Japanese sense of obligation to her otherwise jobless crew, she becomes a successful buccaneer, in a series that would win Sasamoto yet another Seiun in its Anime form, Mōretsu Pirates (2012).
The periodic repackaging of Sasamoto's books with more contemporary art, and the perennial appeal of his perky, capable heroines (see Women in SF) with a certain sector of teenage male fandom, has ensured a long heritage for works that might have otherwise fast fallen out of favour. In particular, he is a beneficiary of the oft-unremarked social functionality of the convention scene, a popular figure with both readers and Scientists, sufficient to ensure powerful voting blocs in both his areas of greatest activity. [JonC]
born Japan: 18 February 1963
Hoshi no Pilot
Minisuka Uchū Kaizoku
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 13:52 pm on 3 December 2021.