This has been in the works for a while now.
I won't have time until the weekend to write the blurb I've got planned, but for now, have some links.
Two weekends later, and here we are. I know I promised a blurb, but now I realize it might not be a particularly cohesive one. I'm no Herb Caen, but hell, let's give the Herb Caen format a shot.
KABU NO ISAKI: Hitoshi Ashinano's latest work, serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine. It seems to run every other month, and currently there are two collected volumes out. It's about a young man, Isaki, who flies his neighbor's plane around.
TEN TIMES LARGER: For unclear reasons, the earth has become ten times larger. That's what the back cover of the manga says. So everything is ten times farther away than it used to be, and mountains are ten times taller. The Tokyo Tower is ten times taller, but it's unclear (to me at least) why and how the human habitations are still normally sized.
SHICHIRIGAHAMA: A beach that actually has an article on Wikipedia: Shichirigahama. Evidently it's a decent surfing spot. What's interesting, though, is that the place is literally named "Seven Ri Beach," where a ri is an archaic unit of measurement equal to 3.9 kilometers. Thus you would expect the beach to be 27 kilometers long, but as Wikipedia notes, it's only one-tenth of that length. Blow up the world by ten, though, and the name becomes accurate.
MOUNTAIN FLYING: In chapter six, Isaki catches some major air. From reading around, mountain flying is not for the faint of heart; and it probably killed Steve Fossett. A phenomenon that's particularly interesting (and particularly relevant to this chapter) is the so-called lee wave. Also known as mountain waves, these are wind currents that form downwind from a mountain range. Gliders catching such waves can attain amazing heights, reaching altitudes of tens of thousands of feet. Reading about these waves has been quite fascinating. First there's the Sierra Rotors Project, a NSF-funded study to determine the characteristics of the waves that form over the Owens Valley; as Shiro-san notes, they're not always there. Then we have writer Nate Ferguson's article on Soar Minden, an outfit closer to Lake Tahoe that puts you in a glider. (Naturally there are Youtube videos of everything these days.)
PIPER SUPER CUB: I don't know a whole lot about these planes, but the internet sure does. There's a Wikipedia article, as well as a surprisingly active enthusiast website. A few data points: introduced 1949, cruise speed 185 km/h / 115 mph, range 735 km / 460 mi.
GEOGRAPHY: Japanese geography is also something that I don't know a whole lot about. We have a few data points to work from. In the first chapter, Isaki flies to the Tokyo Tower, having just returned from Jogashima in the first pages. And in chapter six, Isaki and Shiro-san go to Shichirigahama.
That's a static map with locations pointed out. I haven't figured out how to get a dynamic map with multiple locations, but here's a dynamic one anyway.
DISTANCE: Where do Isaki and company live? The most pertinent datapoint comes from chapter one, where Isaki says that he went 120 km roundtrip to Jogashima. That makes for 60 km one-way, which we then divide by ten to get the "unstretched" world distance. Looking at the map, the folks in KnI live somewhat north of Miura City, south of Mount Ōgusu. Café Alpha is somewhere around there too, as we can tell from chapter one of YKK:
PROJECT PLANS: Volume two is out, and I have it in hand. The plan is to read and translate the entire volume over winter break, and then start the editing process. I also would like to produce a HQ version of volume one, but naturally that's a lower priority.