No. 6 1
July 5, 2015
Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2013 – 9 volumes
So, I’m not really an anime watcher, but I sure did watch this one. I loved it. I even read about half the novels (got bogged down – they’re a little slow). So I bought this series immediately when it came out a couple years ago. But because I had watched the anime twice, and read the novels, the first couple volumes of the manga didn’t appeal to be because… it’s basically the same story. Re-reading this today, it’s still a great story, and I’m glad it’s a little fresher after stepping back a couple years.
The city of No. 6 is a utopia. Everything’s perfect all the time. There’s no crime, the city is beautiful and well-maintained, it is impregnable, and everyone is happy all the time. Except Shion, who is 10-12 at the beginning of the series. He’s one of a very special number of elites, children tested at the age of 2 and determined to be geniuses, and he just got a promotion to the elite of the elites. He lives in a special luxury housing area called Chronos. But he’s indifferent to it all. On his birthday, he opens the window during a storm, and Rat runs in. Rat (who I wil accidentally call Nezumi more than once) is a scraggly boy who’s been shot. Which is impossible, because nobody would shoot another person in No. 6! Rat hangs around long enough to get patched up, fed, sleep, and threaten and belittle Shion. Then he disappears out of Shion’s life.
Flash forward 4 years. Shion’s “bad judgement” for hiding an obvious criminal earns him a demotion. He and his mother are now living in the low-rent district of No. 6, and Shion isn’t sure he’s going to be able to graduate from school. But he works for the park services office, and he and his mother are finally happy. But Shion’s life suddenly takes a turn when his ladyfriend Safu suddenly asks him for sex, Rat’s voice suddenly comes out of a rat on the street, and an old man dies in the park and defies all science. After the second park death, Shion is framed for the murders, and Rat shows up to rescue him and abuse him some more. The pair escape No. 6 and start their life in the poverty-stricken, crime-riddled West Block outside the city gates.
Admittedly, the two main characters are a little annoying. Shion is a little too optimistic and harps on the goodness of man, Rat is pessimistic and harps on how stupid Shion is for thinking the best of people. But they balance each other well. There is a slight whiff of romance, though Shion and Nezumi realistically never rise above the level of bromance, save for Shion’s inner monologues about Rat’s eyes. Actually, they’re pretty close despite all their complaining about one another, and their friendship is one of the reasons this series is so addictive.
This is a bring-down-the-city story, but it’s a fun ride.