Identical to the other seinen manga from Carlsen, this one comes with a nice lacquer cover and several coloured pages as well, even though they are quite simple. The seven coloured pages also form the prologue to the real story, which is a bit uncommon for manga. Additionally the mysteriously phrased words of the nameless, supported with images of grieving children in the differently dyed colours, make us wonder what exactly happened.
This first riddle is solved after this short prologue in the first chapter. On a school sports field a fourteen year old student tries to fend of a gang of high school students. Apparently the person who they were grieving for was Masato, their friend and class leader.
The next few pages tell us about the historical background and explain the situation. Tokyo’s centre has been suffering from a horrid depopulation, causing schools to be closed down, due to the loss of students. A further explanation is not given, so it could be everything, i.e. low birth rate, very high rents, whatever. Their school is affected as well and they will be the last people to graduate from there. (Side note: Depopulation is actually a huge rural problem in Eastern Germany and just a few days ago a paper was published talking about the consequences of it.)
Moreover the previously seen characters are introduced this time with age and name. The chapter ends with the main protagonist, Eito Hachiya, appearing, stating that he’s finally back and came to take revenge for Masato. He wants to find out what exactly happened, for what reason, however he the only thing he knows is what Masato told him on the deathbed. A mysterious aura surrounds him, not only does he look similar to Masato, but he also seems to be able to transform into a dog. The manga goes on, unravelling and creating more mysteries: why does Eito know them all? Why can’t they remember him? Who is the district mayor? What’s the “13 Night”? More questions arise through the volume, yet most of them not or only partly answered, thus leaving us in utter darkness after volume one.
A good start for the first volume, as the story slowly develops, with the jokes nicely embedded into the otherwise quite serious kept plot. The only quibble I have to lament about is that the ninth graders actually look more like 16 or 17 year olds, instead of 14. This makes it harder for me to identify myself with the characters and always leaves me with a feeling of discomfort and uneasiness while reading. It also adds a bit of unpleasant irrationality to the whole setting. However this feeling was stronger when I read the manga for the first time, so maybe it solely depends on my own mood.
The art is very well drawn, fluent and dynamic. The only things I have to lament about where the occasionally empty panel backgrounds and that the few action scenes looked a bit blunt or still. Besides that the art is very smooth and fluent. It gives the whole story the dynamic feeling it needs to develop the suspense. The art style somehow reminded me quite a bit of Oh! Great’s style, especially Eito, who looks surprisingly similar to Spritfire. I would not wonder if Kamijo was an assistant of his in the past; a pity I’ll never find out.
Story: 6/7 – Intriguing and plot and interesting setting, one mark off because the characters don’t got too well with the story (yet).
Art: 6-/7 – Let’s be honest: some empty panels and not fluent looking action scenes, but Nanako looks so good!
Enjoyment: 6/7 – Despite the few flaws I enjoyed the first volume and I’m looking forward to volume 2
Comment on Carlsen’s release: As expected a solid release by Carlsen. The lettering and the Editing seemed to be fine, even though I didn’t compare it with actual Japanese RAW, so some mistakes probably escaped my grasp. Besides that the manga felt heavier than others, if that’s due to the lacquer cover, the coloured pages or simply because of the amount of pages, ~230 and I want to mention the helpful translation notes at the back.