I’m pleasantly surprised by a manga that has a premise that could be terribly, terribly wrong in so many ways.
In the not too distant future the Japanese female culture has taken a wrong turn somewhere down the line; instead of being the delicate, demure, submissive flowers Japanese culture desires its women to be, they are rowdy, crude and almost like human beings. We can’t have that!
The worst offenders are shipped off to the Amazon Academy; an isolated island created for the sole purpose of ‘gently’ guiding young girls back onto the proper path to womanhood.
That’s the part that almost made me puke with rage BUT I kept reading, oh you sly story tellers you, you are SO good with twists.
Enter the narrative Amesu Kumi – just an ordinary high school girl who has come to the island to investigate the mysterious circumstances regarding her sister’s death.
Almost immediately it’s very apparent that the school is not what it seems. It’s actually more like a prison; by day the girls are taught various subjects and are well behaved. By the time the last bell rings however, the staff pulls out, the security cameras turn off and we see the true nature of humanity, male OR female; they are like wild animals, clawing for survival.
Whoever wears the tiny gold ‘star’ on their blazers has privileges and are treated better. Whoever does NOT are grunts who are routinely beaten and do menial tasks. You can guess that this is Only the Strong Survive kind of story.
There are a lot of things I really, really like about this story (short story, only 14 chapters so far). This is an all female cast from beginning to end, without any of the normal shoujo elements. This is Kill or Be Killed, it’s a brutal world and I’m very curious to see if Amesu will survive.
She is a ‘weak’ character done correctly. She is not physically strong like her benefactor, Burai, who is like a female tiger who can rip apart solid steel doors. But she is very determined and she perseveres where most would crumble. Where brute strength cannot get her what she needs, she uses compassion, kindness and stubbornness to survive.
Another thing I really, really like is that this is interchangeable; if you put in all male characters the result would be the same – either way it’s a good Lord of the Flies survival story that just happens to be all female. They are treated like characters, not inflatable dolls pandered for a male audience. We have brutal, amazing inhuman battles between female bruisers fighting for their own reasons. We have intrigue, survival, friendship and mysteries. There is still so much that we don’t know about this world, we have barely begun the story.
The art style is clean, the character designs are attractive and the characters are diverse and interesting.
Some people may hate Amesu because she’s weak but I think she is a very realistic portrayal of an average person and how they would act in such a setting. We all can’t be superheroes, you know?
The only complaint that I would have for this series is there is a slight problem with unnecessary crotch shots with the characters which makes me wonder who the audience is? Burai – the female bruiser who can kick ten kinds of ass, has small breasts but is drawn wearing a ridiculously short skirt and open shirt.
Is this a shounen? I do appreciate different body types and diversity among the female characters; the overblown GIANT tits and barely-there clothing is getting pretty old with anime and manga. So much so that it’s actually very rare to see anything OTHER than giant torpedo tits that defy gravity, unless of course the small breasted character is being played off as ‘unwomanly’ for not having giant tits.
Well, not much more to say since there isn’t much material to work with. I look forward to future chapters and some spectacular fights. This would be a good manga to pick up as an anime.