For a change, I´m not going to talk about gaming with you this time. Instead, this time I will introduce to you a Manga that, in my opinion, is worth reading even when you are not really a fan of japanese comics. Written by Tadashi Kawashima and drawn by Adachitoka it was released 2003 in the monthly Shonen Magazine. Even though it´s a Shonen Manga, it really is different from your typical 0815 SJ. That is, in case you don´t know, a pretty dumb but honest and good by heart hero that is crazy strong, can eat a weeks’ worth food in one go and starts raging when one of his friends got hurt. The main character in this one instead is your average highschooler. He hasn´t got the best grades, looks or is particularly good in sports or anything else. The only thing he probably takes pride in, are his two childhood friends. It is also worth mentioning, that, while reading this, one should better not expect epic battles and fights like in Bleach or HunterXHunter. Instead, settle for a slow paced plot that needs it’s time to get going but never gets boring while doing so.
So yeah, when it´s not all about fighting, what else could there be that makes it so good that I just have to recommend it to you?
As I mentioned already, this piece of art is all about the plot – the red line that starts at chapter one and makes its way all through to the last few ones where the dots connect and you´re finally able to see the bigger picture.
A meteorite and a country wide mass suicide
Age, gender, social status, rich or poor, all of these don´t matter when one day a meteorite crashes down on our planet’s surface. Well it really doesn´t, for no one got hurt. The thing is just that shortly afterwards, as you may have guessed by now, hundreds of people commit suicide all over the country of Japan. Even our protagonist will be witness to a girl jumping down from a building, “landing” in front of him and smiling right in his face as she is about to die. Instead of being shocked though, all he thinks is: “I am so jealous of her!“. A second later he snaps and can´t decide which makes him sicker, that he just saw that girl die with a smile on her face or that he really was thinking of how he envied her. Where did these thoughts come from? Surely they weren´t his own… or maybe they were?
Without any further spoiling (it was just a part of the first chapter as I remember), this is where his long journey full of mysteries, hardships, friendship but also horrors and of course love too begins. During all of this, the author manages to make him, as well as all the other characters really believable. Most of the time, even when it´s sometimes not easy to accept, you will be able to understand why they are the way they are or act the way they do. It´s great to see how he and his friends grow and how adult he will act with time but every now and then, when you´re about to forget that this boy is actually still a child, he will act just like that. I believe that’s a good balance for indeed he is still a child and should be allowed to be just that.
Sobstuff, Tales & Anthems
While reading through this, one will notice that the plot can be divided in two parts which I will refer to as the journey and the conclusion but not detail any further than that, to avoid unnecessary spoilers. Part one, as i said is rather slow paced but very important for the plot and the whole growth of the character. There will be changes within each of the characters and these changes aren´t happening from one chapter to the next.
What I should tell you at this point is, that I last read through Alive was about a year ago at best, maybe even longer. So everything I´m telling you right now are feelings and memories which are at least a year old. Maybe I miss some points while writing this or it is not a hundred percent accurate but knowing this should tell you how strong an impression it left. There were moments that made me burst laughing and some that just made me want to hide under the kitchen table and cry to myself. Sometimes I couldn´t believe what just happened while some scenes are so beautiful or bittersweet that I doubt i will ever forget them. During one of the last chapters there is this one page, you will notice it when see it, where there is no speech bubble, no sounds effects or the like. This particular page (or pages, I honestly can´t remember) my friends is, at least for me, one of the most emotional manga scenes, if not the most emotional one, I have ever seen thus far. Believe me when I tell you that ’till I´ve read a ton of different Mangas and have equally many scenes I have to choose from. The very moment and the drawings are just perfect. He captures to mood in a way I doubt many mangakas could, which gets me to the next topic: the art style.
If you guys had a look at my Graphics section, you know that I´m into drawing as well and as such I just have to pay my respect to this artist. Personally, I think a good plot is way more important than a good art style but if it’s drawn well, that’s a big plus too. When one starts reading through the first few chapters, one will most likely not think much of it. Not bad at all but nothing above average. Sufficient would be the most fitting term to describe it. If you pay attention to it though, you will notice that there are some huge improvements as the story moves on. As I said before, it is not about huge fights all the time but there is some fighting throughout the chapters. These really are well drawn. The movements are fluid and one can … how should I put this.. see through the movements?! In comparison, ¨ The Breaker: New Waves ¨ for example, which is all about martial arts often leaves me wondering how this movement is meant to be. I even noticed some errors in the way they rotate for a kick one time. The guy starts of from left to right and in the next pic, it is still the same move, he rotates from right to left and it really disrupted my reading flow. I just stared at it, not knowing what was bugging me, ´till I noticed what was off. With Alive, if memory serves right, that´s not the case at all. This emotional scene I told you about before, it is only possible because of the way it´s drawn. Especially since there is no speech or any sound, the reader will pay more attention to the art. Something the Artist doesn´t have to be afraid of.
Maybe you start thinking that this was written by a fan boy by now. Since all I keep talking about are the ups and never get to the downs. Trust me, if I could remember some I would tell you. Now that I think about it, this is the first manga where, in fact, I cannot come up with anything that was really not to my liking. Not even the antagonists. When I said that every character is believable I was talking about them too. They aren´t people one should sympathize with but at least for some of them I can´t help but like ´em. Maybe it is just that it´s been some time since I´ve read through all of it and I will remember once I re-read it this year but overall I recommend you read it for yourself.
One last thing I would like to say at this point is that the author wrote the last few chapters on his sick bed and died shortly after it was finished so these chapters may truly reflect the author’s thoughts about life as he sees it.
What do you think about this week’s article? Was it able to make you curious about it or just a topic you couldn´t care less about? Do some of you already know it and have something to add? Maybe you completely disagree with me? Whatever it is, just let me know in the comments. Have a nice day.