I love consistency, and a consistently good manga is the tops!
Writer/Artist: Nobuaki Tadano
What They Say
As strange as "normal" might seem to Hikaru now, "happy days" are much more welcomed than the surreal days she experienced with Celistial. Having wasted Maelstrom in a massive battle, she has been freed from the voices in her head(-phones) and is now moving on with her life with new-found resolve.
When Hikaru gets an opportunity to formally exorcise her personal demons, Hikaru takes the first ferry to the Izu Islands to pay her final respects. When she and her friends arrive and make their way around Hikaru's ancestral home, they all quickly realize that they were not alone in making this trip.
This volume starts of with another set of beautiful color pages that recount the final events of volume one with a little bit of a different perspective. It really shows the brutality of what happened at the end of volume one without focusing on gore and just adding some beauty and grace. Since this is just to tie in with the previous volume the story moves quickly to the next arc.
In this arc, Hikaru travels to the island where she used to live and we, the readers, know that we will get to see more of her past and hopefully understand why she is the way she is a little better. The story delivers here and I couldn't have been more happy with the results! Instead of treating her past like some run of the mill ‘jaded past’ storyline, Nobuaki Tadano treats the material honestly. Sure it may seem typical and a trope but the pacing of the story and the way all the new supporting characters display their emotions, with reserve and contemplation, it makes it feel as if the plot is real and not just a device.
It turns out that Maelstrom did not die in the last battle and has followed Hikaru to the island to get his revenge. Again, the way the material is handled prevents this aspect from becoming another typical revenge plot or a monster of the week type of deal. Maelstrom seems to be more self-aware than previously hinted at and his statements when challenging Horizon to a game really peaked my interest. What really would happen if Maelstrom won? Would he continue his murder spree or will his new found self-awareness lead him down a different path?
Since these volumes are relatively short there aren’t too many events that play out. This volume is a self contained arc that shows a lot of development for all the main players. Hikaru especially as she is not just the main character but someone to really identify with as we learn more about her and see her growing out of her shell. 7 Billion Needles continues to be a very exciting series as it avoids any preconceived pratfalls this type of story can lean towards. With the twist presented in the final pages there are a lot of directions the story can go and all the possibilities I can think all lead to intriguing paths because of how the material has been treated so far.
Another Vertical hit that just keeps getting better and will definitely keep me reading and re-reading for quite some time. I still would love to see this series animated because of how clean and attractive the art is and how mature the overall story is. With this volume the heavy sci-fi influences take a back seat to the characters and make it much more than an alien hunt with a poor unsuspecting human lead. The honest, bare emotions shown in this volume not only keep the series grounded but add layers to the story that transcend the vibe of the first volume. My suggestion, start reading this series!