All You Need Is Kill (Digital Manga Review)

Publishing decisions don’t always make sense to me. To tie into this summer’s release of Edge of Tomorrow, Viz put out an abbreviated comic version of the original story titled All You Need Is Kill. It wasn’t very good, and its short length made it a very choppy read.

All You Need Is Kill cover

Now I’ve had the chance to try the All You Need Is Kill manga, which is available digitally only in two volumes. (A print omnibus edition is due in November.) It’s a much better read and a more enjoyable experience. This should have been the lead tie-in, although perhaps comics are considered more mainstream than manga to promote.

Much of its appeal comes from the skilled, attractive artwork. Takeshi Obata has illustrated several manga titles well-known in the US, including Death Note, Hikaru no Go, and Bakuman. His detailed art is a pleasure to read.

Of course, the increased page count (in comparison to the comic) means scenes have room to breathe. Incidents that seemed to randomly appear in the graphic novel here have purpose and explanation. Characters seem more realistic, with actual human reactions. Since this is a manga, with certain expectations, the battle jacket armor fits right in. The soldiers are beautifully drawn in imposing yet tragically futile battle scenes.

The comic seemed to me like a glorified ad for the movie. This book seems like a story in itself. Keiji takes some time, understandably, to realize what’s happening to him, that he’s reliving one day over and over. That gives us some time to get to know and sympathize with him, his uncertainty and looming terror, as his experience hardens him. Plus, fellow soldiers have personalities. There’s a lot more content, many more moments to get to know Keiji as a person, as well as those around him. The space also allows for more repetitions of his death, with variations that teach him and us more about the situation and strategies. The long-standing war against the monster Mimics hangs over it all.

All You Need Is Kill is a good read for those who like battle / mecha / science fiction manga regardless of whether you not you’re interested in seeing the Tom Cruise movie. I warn you, Volume 1 ends on a stunning cliffhanger, so you’ll want to be ready to buy both books at once. The publisher has made the first chapter available as a free preview. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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