Taisuke Kanou is your average 16-year-old student. He has two close friends, Hirose and Megumi. Hirose has trouble with bullies, but Taisuke is always there to defend him, even though he just winds up getting beaten instead of Hirose. During class one day, Taisuke is hit by something unworldly and for that split second, he sees a vision of the universe. As he’s walking home from school, he sees a girl fall and die in front of him, but his first thought is jealousy. He later finds out that the strange sensation that hit him is spreading throughout Japan. Those who are struck by it either commit suicide or “evolve,” but the comrades that evolve usually have dark intentions for the rest of the world.
This is a hard series to talk about. First I read it with a friend, and second the mangaka wrote it while he was sick and knowing he was going to die, and the manga has a lot of those feelings embedded, and third the mangaka did die right after finishing it. So feelings. I had them, I still have them. I can’t reread this because I’m too close and need distance to forget all that to be able to engage again.This is a special post because today is my birthday, growing old and aging, nearing death slowly. And what better than talking about this series?
Safe to say, this is a tough read. It starts as a typical shounen manga fairly enough, until it starts dwelling into existential crisis and what it means to be alive, to exist, to die, and what we can do for those that die and for those that live.
Heavy, I know.
It’s pretty refreshing to read something that isn’t about the power of friends, or how much power and strength you can get. No, in this series those are roadblocks to jump over, and the wins are not easy. Nor bloodless, or violentless. Many a dear character dies through this series, and it saddened me.
I actually stumbled upon this manga because I’d read ES, by the mangaka of Mars, which was about, well, powers and MAL recced this one for those that liked that one. I’ll just say here that aside the powers thing, both series have nothing in common in terms of tone or genres, truthfully. But I’m glad, because this series is one of my cherished ones, and I couldn’t nave found it without that!
While it was indeed a heavy read, and lead to much thought fuel, I think one of the things that struck me so deep was how this was the last work of the mangaka and his farewell to fans and readers. In a ways, he dwelt with his imminent death through this series, and not only it reflects that, but I felt this series gained so much undertone from it.
We all face our own mortality, but I dare say phew face it with writing a series for a popular magazine. It brings me to tears thinking of this author with so many ambitious and thoughts in his deathbed, fighting till the end to complete a beloved series and his farewell letter.
I’m not even sure I can properly convey how it affected me, discovering that close to the end of the series, and how deeply moved I was by the ending. The ending celebrates both those that die and those that live, one day at a time, one thing at a time, without both talking down or talking up.
I must also say the characters suffer from a lot of psychological warfare, and again, this is indeed a heavy series, but the growth of the characters are worth it, and I dare say it’s worth it for that alone.
Though it may be heavy, I found even though both the story and the author went through so much, the series ends on a positive tone and it felt justified.
If you want to know exactly how he died, I’ll quote Wikipedia:
succumbed to liver cancer on June 15, 2010 and died at the age of 51, having finished Alive on his deathbed.
Happy readings everyone and don’t stop till the very end! ಥ⌣ಥ
Have you heard about this manga before? Have you read it? Did you know the story about the writer? If so, I’d love to know what you think of it!