by Junya Inoue
published by Yen Press; $11.99 US
It kinda disturbs me how much I look forward to this violent video game thriller, but its adrenaline-packed action is addictive.
Unfortunately, this installment wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped. There’s plenty of gore, but that’s something I tolerate, not look forward to. I want each book to move the story forward by revealing more about the premise, why this particular people are trapped on an island and told to kill each other and who’s behind it. There wasn’t much of that in this volume. Instead, it was an extended hunt-and-threaten chase sequence.
The opening section provides more insight into the personality of lead Ryouta, but since his character — a kid who doesn’t know what he wants from life and sinks into a video game where he gets the adulation he can’t in the real world — is familiar to manga readers, it’s not particularly surprising or insightful. Most of this book features Ryouta’s face-off with another island player, an older former soldier and Rambo-style survivalist who uses a hunting knife more than his game-supplied bombs and likes maiming people.
The unnamed girl Ryouta is hanging out with, as expected, becomes a prize and a pawn, taken captive after revealing she’s also a game cosplayer, to emphasize her visual value. The publisher mentions that this is the climax of the first arc, but I don’t find this particularly worthwhile as a conclusion, even a temporary one. There’s a little reveal at the very end, so I hope the next book, due out next month, provides more of that kind of revelation. (The publisher provided a review copy.)