No. 6 7

November 22, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 9 volumes

Yes!  Shion and Rat speed up through the Correctional Facility, and this volume’s pretty much non-stop action.  Lots of disturbing stuff, and lots of cute/horrifying moments between Rat and Shion.  Everything from Rat resigning himself to the fact that he’s thrown his way of life out the window for Shion, to Shion doing something horrifying and out-of-character to protect Rat.

Actually, I can’t talk too much about this volume without spoiling it, but it’s also hard to talk about because it was so action-oriented.  Lots of Shion and Rat running through hallways, dodging scientists, finding brainless bodies on a conveyor belt, ducking into air vents, and thwarting security systems.

We take a peek elsewhere occasionally, with Karan and Dogcatcher/Rikiga doing their things.  We also hear rumblings about Dogcatcher’s distraction, which was spreading garbage all over No. 6 so that it stank terribly.  Shion comments at one point that the smell isn’t nearly so bad as the one in West Block, and the No. 6 residents really are fragile.  Elsewhere in No. 6, the bees are loose.

Powering through this one.  Hope to have the last two volumes read tonight!  Though this, along with the other three, probably won’t get posted for some time. (edit: I was right.  I finished this in August)

No. 6 6

November 14, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2014 – 9 volumes

This section’s a lot different than the anime, if you’ve seen that.  This is also around where I stopped reading the novels (I’m kinda tempted to start again, though I keep hoping they’ll be licensed in English and published), so I’m not sure how different the manga is from here on out.

Shion and Rat, after getting captured by someone Rat knows, manage to talk their way into a city that exists under the Correctional Facility.  They tell their story to one of the elders.  He, in turn, tells them the story of the founding of No. 6, and Rat tells Shion where he came from and what happened to him.  There’s a lot of… close moments between Shion and Rat, lots of each of them jumping to the other’s defense, which is all kinds of cute and still manages to not be very romantic.

This scene felt a little… weird in manga form?  I assume there was more in the novels that was left out.  It doesn’t really explain the city or what all the people are doing there (I assume they came from the same place as Rat?), why Rat wasn’t allowed back, or… much of anything at all.  It’s wrapped up by the end of the volume, and Shion and Rat are all about going back out and messing up the foundations of No. 6, so I suppose the manga readers will never know.

Meanwhile, I’m undecided if Rikiga tricked Dogcatcher or Dogcatcher tricked Rikiga, but the two of them appear to be helping out Shion and Rat with a disturbance in the city.  It’s also Founder’s Day in No. 6, so it seems like the pace will probably be speedy from here out.  A scene at the end of the volume indicates that whatever is in the works from the science side of No. 6 has been unleashed.  One of Dogcatcher’s contacts also links back to Shion’s mom, which is also kind of cool.  I liked having her sitting on the sidelines, worrying about Shion the whole time.  Not only did she provide a nice link inside No. 6, she’s also the rare non-absentee manga parent.

Still a great read!  Lots of action, both Shion and Rat continue to be interesting enough to follow along, and now that the 3-volume story climax is starting, it’s hard to put down.  It’s especially intriguing now that it’s diverging from what I know of the anime, so that’s fun.

No. 6 5

October 25, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2014 – 9 volumes

There’s a cute scene at the beginning of this volume that I didn’t remember from either the anime or novels.  Rat is nearly struck down by what appears to be the bee illness, and when Shion is fussing over him, Rat gives him a dancing lesson to prove he’s well and has more stamina than Shion.  If that wasn’t enough of a sort-of-romantic-innuendo, Shion gets serious when Rat tells him not to worry, touching Rat on the neck and telling him that’s where he expected the bee.  Shion touching Rat on the neck throws Rat off guard, and makes him really think hard about what’s happening in his life.

Then, the rest of the volume is Rat and Shion being collected in a huge roundup (apparently because No. 6 needs live test subjects), and the two of them wandering through horrible piles of dead and dying in the Correctional Facility.  This is pretty harrowing in the novel, and is pretty intense here, too.  There’s some nice scenes of Shion losing it, and admittedly, this is pretty depraved.

That’s pretty much it.  Rat mostly has to bully Shion through the center because the conditions are so appalling, and there’s a lot of Shion stopping to take in just how awful everything is.  Judging by the last scene in this volume, it looks like the story will follow the path of the novels, so we’ll get to find out about Rat’s singing.

No. 6 4

August 30, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2013 – 9 volumes

Huh.  I just realized that Atsuko Asano also wrote Manzai Comics, a series that probably nobody remembers or read.  One volume was published by Aurora in 2009, and it disappeared after that, but I really liked what I read in that one.  It’s cool that we have a little more of her work in English, and that it was still pretty good.  I really wish Kodansha would release the No. 6 novels.  That doesn’t really seem to be their thing, though.

Anyway, I still love No. 6.  In this volume, Rat finds out that Shion is planning to go by himself to save Safu.  Shion tries to play it cool and leave Rat without him knowing, but Rat catches him, beats him up, and makes him promise to never say goodbye to him again.  Shion punches him back, and makes him promise never to hide things from him again.  It’s adorable.

Later, they capture someone from high-up in No. 6 and make him divulge plans for a new facility, and what is going on in the city.  The man seems to honestly have no idea what they’re asking him.  He claims there’s no way Safu was kidnapped, that nobody knows what the new strange bunker is about because the health department built it themselves, and he also has no knowledge of the bee outbreak.  Shion’s interrogation techniques wind up being more effective than Rat’s.

We also learn about the manhunt, which should take place next volume.

This is a pretty straightforward section of story, though if you’re at all a fan of Rat/Shion, there’s about as much as this series has to give in here.  Which is not much, but it’s still adorable.  And the series is very focused on the pair of them, which is awesome, even if it isn’t necessarily romantically.  The interrogation scene I mentioned above is pretty intense.  Shion eventually stops it, and tries it his way.  We get a little peek at Rat, and Rat gets a little taste of Shion being right.  It’s a great scene, and one of the nice bits of character development this series offers pretty frequently.

Again, as an adaptation of an anime that was adapted from a novel series, this is pretty good.  The novels are a little long-winded, so I like this more concise version of the story.  And the art is nice, clear, and readable.  Nothing fancy, but I like how quick these read.

No. 6 3

July 29, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2013 – 9 volumes

There’s a cute story at the end of this volume about when Shion was sick.  This manga’s a bit more BL-flavored than I remember the anime or novels being, but it’s still pretty subtle.  Most of the time.

Complications with Shion’s friend Safu begin in No. 6.  Meanwhile, Rat continues to insist that Shion needs to know nothing about him, that Shion is naive, Shion is too good-hearted, blah blah blah.  Shion also gets a job washing Dogcatcher’s dogs, and we find out Dogcatcher’s weakness is that he is afraid of death and that he has connections into the No. 6 prison system.

Rat decides to keep Safu’s struggles to himself, but does the necessary research for helping her while keeping it from Shion.  Shion finds out anyway.  Next volume should be some planning, and maybe even an unpleasant excursion.

Again, most of the charm is in Rat and Shion, and how the other characters view them separately and together.  It’s not at all romantic, thus why I keep insisting it’s not really a BL series, but the two are BFFs, at the very least, and they rely and depend on each other in a very sentimental way.  The plot of the series is also fairly interesting, and kept simple and easily communicated here.  I like this adaptation, it’s not moving too fast or leaving much out.

No. 6 2

July 21, 2015

Atsuko Asano / Hinoki Kino – Kodansha USA – 2013 – 9 volumes

Still good!  Shion has to deal with the after-effects of a serious and sudden illness he contracted, the same one that killed the people in the park.  But Rat saved him, and gets mean when Shion expresses his surprise at the change in his appearance (this isn’t really a spoiler, he’s got white hair and his red scar for the rest of the series).

Shion gets a tour of the West Block and a crash course in their way of life.  Don’t answer the door, because someone with a gun could just be knocking low and pretending to be a child.  Don’t bump into people when you’re walking around.  Don’t prevent angry shopkeepers from gunning down innocent old ladies in the street.  Avoid aggressive sex workers.  Don’t shake hands.  If a guy tries to pick you up, kick him in the crotch.

Rat looks amused while Shion nearly gets shot in the head and stolen twice.  Again, both their attitudes rub on me a little.  Rat is constantly telling Shion to “get used to it,” “don’t be so naive,” “that’ll get you killed,” et cetera for regular everyday things.  And Shion just can’t keep his mouth shut or stop acting surprised by everything.  But again, their dynamic is what makes this series enjoyable.  Their banter is a little more “friendly” here than it is in either the anime or novels, or maybe I misremember.

The spy stuff is starting, with Dogkeeper and the dog hotel and Rikiga and his deal.  And we start getting a peek at just what’s going on inside No. 6.

Again, it’s a fairly simple and straightforward story, but it’s just charming and interesting enough to keep me reading.  Your mileage may vary, but I’m quite fond of this one.

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.