01/11/2008. Contributed by Phil Jones
pub: Orbit Books/Yen Press. 204 page graphic novel. Price: £ 5.99 (UK), $10.99, $12.75 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7595-2353-1.
check out website: www.orbitbooks.net and www.yenpress.co.uk
OK, what do you get if you cross manic with a fast pace and a bit of nuts thrown in for good measure? Oh, add to that death, zombies, boatman who happens to be loan shark and an orphaned young girl with a trust fund. Two boys who happened to have been in a road accident, apparently dead but now back at school, and flesh-eating nun. 'Zombie-Loan' for starters. Even the publishers in the back of the book state this is a departure from what they normally publish. This shonen manga (school-age based manga) distinctively gives a fantasy edge, brings a financial spin into the shinigami (death) style of manga, zombies ahoy.
So what's it about? It revolves around Michiru Kita, a school-girl who is seldom noticed and falls under the radar. Often picked on, she was orphaned. Two boys who were in a horrific car accident six months ago catch her eye when she notices rings around their necks. She learns that her two new 'friends' are actually not dead but are paying off a debt to get there lives back by catching and killing zombies. In doing so reaping their bounties and paying off their dept. The rings basically indicate who are about to die and to all intensive purposes are about to become zombies. They've sort of gone past their sell-by-date and should be dead. Hence, the two boys coerce Michiru to help them find the zombies.
Michiru has little concern for her own life or will to live. She is whiny and doesn't really want to be bothered with life generally. With getting wrapped up with the boys, she finds out about their special loan and some rather dodgy loan shark they owe to. Things come to a head when the three of them hunt a zombie nun who likes girls flesh.
OK, this is really fast-paced with some really dynamic and well-drawn artwork. The main problem so far is the main character Michiru Kita. Her lack of enthusiasm and grumpy nature makes for a shallow character. The other characters are relatively throw away as well. The two boys are flippant, especially toward Michiru. I can see where this is headed and it's about all three main characters developing and caring about life and what it can give. The story is OK but does at times become quite gory and the language can definitely get quite fruity so aimed at an older audience.
There are high points. The fact this doesn't hold back is actually a good point as is the turnaround at the end of the first volume when the two boys show their true colours. There are some good messages in here in among the violent outbreaks. I think what really saves this is the humour though. Be prepared to get lost as it does go off tangent at times. Overall, it's enjoyable and perhaps just needs a bit more time for the characters to develop.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA