Author: Kawashima Tadashi
Manga-ka: Adachi Toka
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: October 2007
Synopsis: “A strange virus is making its way around the globe, causing its victims to commit suicide. It less than a week, it’s a lethal pandemic. Now a group of Tokyo teens who have survived the outbreak are wondering why they are still alive.”
Life continues as usual for high school student Kano Taisuke until one day a mysterious rumbling in the sky acts as prelude to a worldwide pandemic of suicides. Thousands are dying around the world and some of those who survive are acting oddly, some exhibiting strange abilities and a lust for death. After witnessing first hand the peaceful face of another victim, Taisuke, finds himself in the middle of global chaos.
Alive finds a niche between shounen and horror that makes it a real treat to read. It has an interesting plot driven by solid characters that cause readers to hold a real empathy for the Earth’s strife through the horrific events that follow. While the story is involved and deals with serious issues, it’s written in a way that’s easy to follow and paced in a way more common to classic shounen titles. It comes together as a mature title that won’t be as daunting to those who find a lot of seinen titles hard to get into it.
The art style fits the telling of the story very well. It’s simple and solid with diverse character designs and attractive backgrounds. Like many shounen titles, the lines are solid and screen toning is used sparingly to depict location and mood so the art looks clean and crisp. The artist has done a great job setting these moods in each scene, from comedy to drama to horror in smooth transition. Panels have an excellent sense of movement and action that fit each event accordingly.
DelRey has treated this release with its usual level of detail and care. Words are easy to read and translation is smooth. There were no glaringly obvious grammar or spelling problems and translation notes are included in the back of the book.
While Alive has all the classic elements of an everyday shounen manga, main character with special powers, his best friend and a love interest plus a dash of space aliens, it handles it all excellently, feeling like a unique story that manages to stay a head above more clichéd titles. It’s a unique release among the so many available today and is recommended to anyone seeking something simple but engaging. Alive has begun with an impressive first volume that leaves a million possibilities for where this modern day horror could lead.