Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Text/Translatin Rating: B
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Released By: Del Rey
- MSRP: 10.95
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 978-0-345-49746-8
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
- Series: Alive
Alive Vol. #01
By Matthew Alexander
August 30, 2007
Release Date: July 31, 2007
© Del Rey
Writer/Artist:Tadashi Kawashima / Adachitoka
Translated by:Anastasia Moreno
Adapted by:Anastasia MorenoWhat They Say
A strange virus is making its way around the globe, causing its victims to commit suicide "and becoming a lethal pandemic in less than a week. Now a group of Tokyo teens who have survived the outbreak are wondering why they are still alive.The Review
I never thought mass suicide could be so entertaining.Packaging:
The attractive front cover does a good job at subliminally hinting at a few things. Taisuke and Megumi are standing near the windows in their classroom (they share a strong friendship). Red and purple hues dominate the picture and maybe hint at the massive amount of blood we can expect to see spilled during this series. The 'Alive' title is written with wide font and appears to be an overlay of space, which is where planet Earth's problems come from in this story. The back has a short synopsis and is a wrap-around from the front cover, showing the rest of the classroom and Hirose staring at the other two characters on the front cover (Hirose is connected to the other two but doesn't share as strong a bond with either). The print quality is good throughout the book and extras consist of comic strips at the end, a letter from the writer, and translation notes.Artwork:
The artwork is interesting. For as sparse as the backgrounds are, and as plain as the clothing designs are, I really enjoyed the characters themselves. There's not very much detail in Adachitoka's art, but the characters still show a wide range of facial expressions, which often switches to more comicky faces during extreme moments. Taisuke is a rather average spikey-haired student, but all the female students are refreshingly different from each other. Plus, Taisuke's older sister and school nurse, Yoko, is just plain awesome. Not surprisingly, she's cute, but she also has an average body (not the school nurse standard DD's) and her lipstick changes from lighter in the first chapter to absent while at home and then to a darker shade in the last chapter. Something else I found interesting is the artist's penchant for drawing characters from behind and at an angle. Adachitoka does this much more than I've noticed other artists and it creates refreshingly different poses. Text/SFX:
I like the font in this book a lot, it's just different enough. The text reads well except for a couple parts of this crazy guys dialogue. However, because he's crazy I think his dialogue is supposed to read a little different. Honorifics remain and the large number of nicknames the students have for each other lends a slice of realism to the story. With that said I was disappointed with the empty dialogue box on page 81. Taisuke is eating and talking about how he wants to see Hirose and then the left box is empty. So I don't know if dialogue is missing or maybe the dialogue in the first box was supposed to be split in two.Contents:
(Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Taisuke is a tough kid, but he sure can't fight. In fact, I think I might prefer his friend Megumi as my back-up in a fight because she comes off tough as nails. However, what Taisuke lacks in martial skills, he more than makes up for in loyalty. His parents died when he was young and since then it's just been him and his older sister, Yoko. Eventually, Taisuke was befriended by a scrawny kid his age, Hirose, and ever since Taisuke has been taking on Hirose's bullies and usually getting his butt kicked in the process.
Years later, Taisuke's life gets a lot harder one average day. While walking home a girl commits suicide right in front of him. She jumps off a building and narrowly misses Taisuke, but not before he catches a glimpse of her smiling face the instant before her brains are dashed across the concrete. By the time he gets home there is an epidemic of suicides taking place across Japan and even the world. There is some speculation by the authorities that a new virus that causes humans to kill themselves has suddenly appeared. But for us readers, we know from the first few pages that some kind of sentient being has invaded Earth from outer space. The question is, what does this thing want? And why do people look so peaceful just before they kill themselves. If the alien is some type of parasite it isn't a very good one because it kills the host, the best parasites keep their host alive. Past that, what's the deal with the people that seem to be possessed by something. These characters are just plain crazy and they also possess some kind of ESP powers.
To make all these things even more confusing, Taisuke seems to have some kind of connection to the crazy people. However, he doesn't seem to be possessed like the others. Why's that? Will he ever have the same powers as the crazy people? Can he keep his sister and friends safe from this 'suicide virus'? I don't know, but this is definitely one of the better titles I've started this year.Comments
I have to give kudos to Del Rey for picking up a more adult/serious title, and one that doesn't flinch at killing off characters. Alive is just plain good. Using suicide as a medium for an alien invasion is a pretty cool idea, and the crazy characters with special powers open the door for some potentially bad-ass battle scenes. With that said, the strength of this title lies in the strong character development and the ties that bind the main characters. Taisuke and his sister obviously have a strong bond since their parent's death has forced them to rely on each other. Hirose's mother has been his only family for a long time, so he knows what Taisuke's life has been like and their friendship has only strengthened over the years. Then there's Megumi, who has known Taisuke since before his parents died. They have that whole 'childhood friendship leading into confused feelings of affection at the onset of puberty' thing going on. Now take all these characters and make one crazy, another somehow connected to the suicide epidemic, and then dash their lives against the rocks of jealousy. Then hold on for dear life in an attempt to see where this disturbing story takes us.
If you have grown somewhat bored of the standard harem, fight, or puppy-dog romance genres, then I Recommend picking up this title for a disturbingly enjoyable look at friendship, family, and suicide.