Zombie Loan 12

August 31, 2011

PEACH-PIT – Yen Press – 2011 – 13 volumes

I gave up on this series after three volumes. As interesting as the premise was (that you can buy yourself another chance at life), it was a little too fanservice-heavy for my taste. I always thought about giving it another chance, though, and I thought I’d try volume 12 to see how much the series had changed since then.

I was… lost, at first. It seemed like everybody, including the main character, was dead for real at the beginning of the volume, and the only ones left were Chika and Shito, the pair that Michiru met in the first volume. It didn’t make sense to me that Michiru was killed, but I was also a little bit impressed by this. There were characters and situations I was unfamiliar with at first too, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get a handle on things.

But then Chika and Shito are killed, too. Except they don’t really die. For some reason, they wind up in a video game. That doesn’t even make sense, but I’m willing to go along with it. Another character happens to do the debugging, and they use a password reset to get a better form for working their way through the video game, but apparently the idea was that they had to play through the video game to get strong enough post-mortem to enter some sort of… recycling bin in order to rescue everyone else who is killed.

Again, I don’t think this would make any sense even if I had been reading the whole thing. But I like it anyway. When they do get to the recycling bin, there are literal garbage trucks moving “data” around. None of the characters have a body, they are simply “data.”

I… I think I like it again. I don’t think this volume reflects what came before it at all, but I’m impressed by the off-the-wall logic here. I was surprised to see that this was the second-to-last volume. It didn’t really feel like a climax to me, but then again, the main character was dead, so what do I know.

There’s not even that much action. Mostly it’s just a lot of talking heads trying to explain to you why any of this makes sense. I tuned it out, because it doesn’t matter. Two characters died and wound up in a video game. There’s no explaining that. Also, this is the second volume I’ve read in two weeks that uses Akashic Records as part of the plot/power structure. It’s unusual to see that come up so frequently.

Anyway. I’m sold. I’m going to go back and give this series another try.

This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.

Zombie-Loan 3

November 14, 2008

So here’s another one of those books that’s been laying around forever because I’ve been avoiding reading it.  This series is still just… very messy.  I probably shouldn’t review this one when I’m so tired and can’t properly gather my thoughts to find nice things to say, but this volume really did just lose me.  I was confused about most of what was going on.

Some of my confusion was because I was having trouble placing one of the characters that appeared prominently last volume because so much time had passed since I read it, which is my fault.  I remembered about 1/3 of the way through that he was Chika’s friend.  His role here kind of broke my heart, because even though I didn’t remember the character and he wasn’t really developed enough to carry that much emotional weight, I knew who and what he was supposed to be, especially to Chika, and the story surrounding him was actually quite good.

Well, thinking back on it, I guess most of the major details are pretty clear, so it’s probably not fair to say that it was “confusing.”  I did have a lot of trouble getting through it, though.  I think one of the problems is that the sense of place is really bad.  It’s hard to say this as a fan of shoujo manga, which are normally drawn with no backgrounds, but I had a hard time telling what was going on and where in several parts.  Part of this is the stylized art.  It can be pretty good, and there’s a lot of black used, which I like, but… the backgrounds and scenery are drawn in such a way that often it’s not clear if certain characters have moved, if they’re supposed to be in the same place together, etc.  The action suffers because of the stylized art too, and while it’s not difficult to get the gist of the fight scenes, following them panel-to-panel is difficult.

I also disliked its fanservicey humor.  As heavy as stuff gets here, I understand it’s pretty important to keep a light touch around too, but having the two female characters flirt together in the bath is not how you crack a funny joke, nor do you do so by having the two boys constantly picking comical fights with each other.  It’s a bit better in this volume than it was last time, but the way the boys express their hate for one another never feels quite right to me, either.  Maybe there’s more to their relationship to be revealed later, though.

I still like the basic plot, though!  More details of the payment system are introduced, as well as the pros and cons to working out your loan with the ferryman.  I love what’s going on, and I like a lot of things about the plot… I just don’t like the pieces that it’s made of.

I’ll probably get volume four within the next week or so and read it to see if reading the volumes back to back helps my understanding of it any better.  Perhaps it just employs a different style of visual vernacular that I have a hard time comprehending, and maybe following it up right away with another volume will reinforce the style and way the story’s told and help me appreciate it more.

Zombie-Loan 2

June 16, 2008

I don’t know, this still reads like a mess for me.  It took me awhile to remember the dynamics of the relationship between the three main characters… mainly re: Chika’s debt, I remembered that she was resurrected, and I thought the boys had taken the debt on for her, but I couldn’t figure out why she still hung out with them if that was the case since she doesn’t seem to like them and they take advantage of her a lot.  Then I remembered how she decided to be “stronger” last volume and not get pushed around by her classmates, and how happy she was about making this decision.  And she does stick by this, she turns her classmates down when they ask her to run errands for them.  Except she’s still weak and annoying, and she lets herself get pushed all over the place by the two boys.  I really just hate her a lot.

I also kind of hate the tone of the series.  It’s serious, and it’s got a relatively good plot, but for some reason, there’s a ton of jokes inserted quite frequently that break the mood, and… yeah.  I just couldn’t get into it.

There’s a bunch of new characters introduced.  I didn’t have much trouble keeping track of them, and I was actually really surprised since they all serve a purpose, which is usually contrary to this type of series.  A new girl who has “shinigami lips” helps out the team, and there’s a friend of one of the boys who joins up and helps them solve several problems related to their newest case.  There’s also a few more nuances about being a zombie revealed which are really well thought-out details.

I think the shifting tone and my hate for the main character just left me feeling poorly about this one.  I’m so bummed too, it’s got a great premise, and Peach-Pit is so popular that I would really like to get into one of their series.  This won’t be the one, I think, unless it seriously picks up next time.

Zombie-Loan 1

December 30, 2007

I’ve sort of been wanting to read a Peach-Pit series, but robot girls and aliens et al really aren’t my thing.  Zombies and shinigami are, so I thought this would be a good series to try out.

It could just be because I read it after Skip Beat and From Eroica With Love, but I really didn’t enjoy this volume.  The heroine didn’t go down too good after going through two volumes of Skip Beat, which has an extremely strong and entertaining main character.  The girl in this series is wimpy, a crybaby, strung along by the other characters, and doesn’t care if she lives or dies.  Of course, the point of the series is to beat this out of her, and the other characters do what they can to improve her outlook, but she spends almost the entire volume in this state.  At the very end, she’s reborn, so here’s hoping the next volume will have her suddenly and hilariously transformed into an ass-kicking monster hunter.

The plot of the series is vaguely Lunar Legend Tsukihime-esque in that the main character has the ability to see “rings” on people’s necks that let her know when the person will die, and she’s got glasses that filter this ability out (which is really only vaguely similar to Tsukihime, where the lines Shiki sees are fault lines he can kill people with).  She teams up with two boys who need this ability in order to see what are, for all intents and purposes, Zombies that are killing humans and went past their life expectancy without dying.  The two boys also have these rings and are “dead,” but are not zombies and are making a living paying back their loan to stay alive by collecting bounties on the zombie creatures they kill.

The plot is great, but the shallow characters really brought it down.  Here’s hoping things pick up next volume.