Drifting Classroom Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
What They Say
When a despotic student attempts to take control of the school, Sho tries to bring his classmates to their senses. But while the students squabble over power, something horrible comes closer and closer... something that followed them out of the wasteland... something that can't be stopped. As the school is besieged, the students fight back desperately, weak with hunger. But this time, running out of food is the least of their worries. This time, they are food...
Desperation, panic, and death seep though Yamato Elementary, and the time has come for the students to organize a government to help maintain order. Gamo organizes an election for Prime Minister between Princess and Sho. Princess tries to maintain her imposing power and threatens all of the students with violence if they don't vote for her. Luckily, Sho manages to squeak ahead and win the election, and because of that, Princess and her posse head out to the desert.
Sho quickly organizes a government and appoints ministers to deal with the school's most immediate concerns, such as the lack of food and the threat of the monster. During the government's first meeting, though, a boy is found convulsing on the floor who is nearly mad with hunger. He remains insatiable even after he eats, and has to be restrained to keep him from stealing more food. For a while things seem to be working smoothly: the food rations, while sparse, are enough to keep everyone going, and Ikegaki, the minister of defense, has organized significant defenses for the school. But when the food-crazed Nakata is set free of his restraints and steals some food, he trips some of the most vital defensive traps. This happens just in time for the monster to come barreling in from the desert into the nearly defenseless elementary, giving the students the opportunity to discover just how unstoppable it is.
From start to finish, the volume maintains the tension and the aura of dread that makes The Drifting Classroom essential reading. Any book that starts off, on its very first page, with first-graders committing suicide is a book that insists on not holding anything back. But it's not just the gruesome elements that make this story as good as it is, it is the attempts at normalcy, it's the frailty, it's the valor, and it's how all of those things keep getting eviscerated by the hell that surrounds and permeates the school.
Overall, there is very little to criticize here; this book represents a level of excellence that I would like to see as the status quo. The story is consistently heart-wrenching and it maintains a wonderful level of unease, and the packaging, without going into detail, works. The only noticeable things are small. There are a few times where there is some awkward word choice that makes dialog come off a bit clunkier than it should. The same thing is true of the art. This is an old book with appropriately old school art which, unfortunately, means that some people won't like it right off the bat, but the art is nice and detailed and reflects the grittiness of the story itself. But it does get a git bogged down at times and characters will move in a decidedly stiff way. However, this is all just nit-picking. This series continues to be an excellent read for anyone who even remotely enjoys horror manga.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Drifting Classroom