Good things usually go unappreciated until you lose them, or they just stay unappreciated forever.
Which is a saying that always flashes through my mind each and every time I come across a real gem of an anime or manga.
And I would like to share one such treasure today – the superb and seriously underrated manga, Seizon – LifE. (生存―LifE)
A collaborative effort by two accomplished mangaka – Nobuyuki Fukumoto (previous winner of the Kodansha Manga Award) and Kaiji Kawaguchi (previous winner of both the Kodansha Manga Award and the Shogakukan Manga Awards), this three-volume thriller details the gripping story of a father’s search for his daughter’s murderer, while gradually coming to terms with his failure to do his parental duty while she was still alive.
The story hits straight to the heart at the beginning.
The main character, a aged typical workaholic salaryman named Takeda, is told he has cancer and he has only six months to live.
Takeda’s wife has died years ago and his only daughter is still missing for fourteen years. Unable to accept that his life is gradually fading away, he attempt suicide.
But at that exact moment, his phone rings, and it is the police informing him that his daughter’s corpse has been found.
Although his world shatters at that moment, he resolves to use the remaining time he has left to find his daughter’s killer.
And the catch, the amount of time he has left to live equates to the amount of time he has left to prosecute the murderer. If Takeda fails to find the murderer before the deadline passes, under Japanese law, the killer walks free forever.
And with this premise, the manga takes us on a roller-coaster ride depicting Takeda’s frantic search for the unknown person who murdered his daughter.
The art is certainly nothing to shout about. There is none of the typical bright colours and clean lines seen in the majority of shoujo manga, nor the beautiful and smacking cool characters in some shounen manga. There is no comedy, no silliness, nor any of the over-exaggerated, distracting background art found in some other manga.
Instead, what it is… is one word, realistic.
Takeda is middle-aged, worried and most certainly looking like the desperate character he is. The backgound is nothing more than efficient. It shows what it needs to show without embellishing anything.
But it is probably this roughness that sincerely and accurately brings out the sense of urgency and growing depair that Takeda faces.
And believe me, the quality of the manga ensures that the reader will be sucked and thrown into the thick of action.
It was very difficult to not be drawn into Takeda’s emotional turmoil while reading, as there is a most definite sense of direness and dread as you flip each page knowing that his time is slowly ticking away from him.
The authors also weave in the emotional aspect smoothly, with Takeda’s guilt at his past neglect of his family adding to the weight of the story.
All-in-all, this is definitely one excellent manga I have read, and would highly recommend to anyone who appreciates a good, tight and fast story.
It may not be earth-shattering nor ever command the legions of fans like some other titles, but Seizon – lifE gives me a firm reminder that an entertaining and enjoyable manga need not be about pretty girls and dashing boys. :p
Sometimes, it’s the story that counts…and this was a seriously good one. So do give it a try.
It’s a pity they don’t make much manga like this anymore.