Lives 1

March 4, 2011

Masayuki Taguchi – Tokyopop – 2011 – 2 volumes

Aw, man. I just found out that this is only two volumes long. It had a really promising first volume, with a lot of interesting ideas, but… there’s no way it will resolve in an interesting way with just one more volume. Bummer. Hopefully I’m wrong.

So I read this after I finished the first volume of Wounded Man, and it occurred to me that both belong to a genre of comics I’m just going to call man salad. Man salad comics are… hm. You’d know if you read one. Violent, fanservicey, borderline or overtly misogynistic, and they almost never follow a coherent plot. Lives ran in a Champion magazine, and Champion’s editorial policies seem to cultivate man salad series like hothouse flowers. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love man salad. It is 100% entertaining, cover to cover.

I couldn’t put Lives down, and I’m not even sure why. Well, I know why. I wanted answers. I desperately needed to know what was going on. Meteor showers, horrible man/monster hybrids, a possible realm of the dead populated by only manmonsters, and big-breasted crying teenage girls. It doesn’t make any more sense than that. I don’t even know where to begin.

Actually, I do. It opens with an all-girl idol group concert, complete with the most skimpy costumes I’ve ever seen in a manga, and I’ve read plenty of manga porn. They all die, and the survivor is hunted down as a meal by her manager, who suddenly turns into a crocodile man. She is saved by what appears to be Devilman. Crocodile manager then slinks off into the woods, apparently devoid of human emotion.

Then it cuts to the story of two completely unrelated characters. All the characters are being transported into a thick jungle after presumably being killed in a meteor shower on Earth (and by presumably, I mean we see them hit by meteors and messily disintegrated). This jungle is populated by people in similar situations. Apparently everyone has the power to turn into a monster here. some turn into fish with the faces of men, begging for their lives. Others turn into t-rexes with human faces stretched over what appears to be a Predator mouth. Some are ox-men. Some are bee-men. One is Devilman.

There is some narrative there. The two unrelated characters, whose story is second, but the first that is told in its entirety, is an okay story. It’s full of hand-wringing, tears, and desperate optimism similar to the most moralistic parts of Battle Royale (Taguchi was the artist on that series). It, at least, makes sense, or as much sense as can be made in the insane context of this series.

No effort is made to explain things by the end of the volume. Our best lead is a naked angel that tells one of the characters to “follow their instincts” to save mankind.

I… don’t think most people will like this series. I thought it was rad. It makes no sense, but it is clearly having a ball while doing so, and full of, at the very least, interesting ideas. As I said, I can’t see that this will be resolved in only one more volume, and I’m sad. It deserves a longer run.