01/04/2009. Contributed by Phil Jones
pub: Yen Press/Orbit Books. 192 page graphic novel. Price: £ 5.99 (UK), $10.99, $12.75 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7595-2836-9.
check out websites: www.yenpress.co.uk and www.orbitbooks.net
This is the second instalment by the female writing duo Peach-Pit. They are known for their bishoujo (pretty girl) illustrations in their manga and 'Zombie Loan' is no different. We re-join the on going saga after Michiru's close escape from death. She is still coming to terms with the fact that she can see those who are near death and the walking dead. Her ability is being put to use by an unlikely pair of lads, Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana.
They escaped what should have been a fatal car accident but in doing so have to repay a loan by killing zombies. This is where Michiru's abilities and 'shinigami eyes' comes in handy. Life, though, as a newly found bounty hunter is not going smoothly. Having left her relatives, Michiru is to inherit a large sum of money from a trust fund but is too young to collect it.
Between the boys and the loan agency, they rustle up a place for Michiru to stay, a disused old school. This is not quite the act of kindness that it first seems, there is a cost. Not only that Michiru has a split-personality roommate to contend with. She discovers the alter personality has, how shall we say, somewhat lesbian tendencies. Koyomi/Yomi has her own special ability - again handy with the zombie hunting. She has 'shinigami tongue' which means she can make perditions of the zombie variety; hence, her usefulness to Chika and Shito.
Well, strangely enough, the extraction of said information regarding zombies requires Michiru to kiss Koyomi/Yomi. When it arrives, it seems like a load of biblical nonsense until Shiba arrives and starts to link it to recent crime scene photos and ancient esoteric Jewish mystical numerology. There are links on-line to the one who is supposedly admitting to carrying out the murders. The group discovers that there is to be a secret meeting of the members of the underground website. Meanwhile, Michiru is off clothes shopping with the Zombie Loan team member Koyomi.
OK, for starters, we've gotten loads of fan-service scenes in this volume. From girls kissing to the obligatory maid outfits. This is the real problem as there's loads of stupid asides, amusement and titillation but at the detriment of the storyline. The first volume was to be fair quite random, but this second instalment sacrifices too much of the plot for entertainment tactics.
There's plenty of generic factors here and I think that does detract from some of the better points of this series. Some of the style changes and dynamics is fresh and original. We start to get a feel for the zombie loan set-up and team. In some respects, it reminds me of the Scooby Doo team, but there are just too many random elements for it to sit comfortably at the moment. The wave of attacking zombie rats and how it's resolved was a bit too weird for my liking for example.
There are enough elements to keep you hanging on for now at least. We're left with a cliff-hanger and hopefully the next volume will address the plotting issues and is a bit more cohesive. If we're not careful this will slip into familiarity and be difficult to distinguish from a whole host of manga already out there.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA