Thursday, February 28, 2013

I AM A HERO

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I AM A HERO
PLEASE CALL ME HERO
Serialized since 2009, Shogakukan Publishing’s manga offering “I am a Hero” has been on our radar for some time now. The story follows the life of Hideo Suzuki, a down trodden middle aged manga artist with strong ideals towards manga, life, and society in general. After finishing work late one night, he prepares to proceed with his usual shooting range practice, but notices something strange on the streets – people have bite wounds, some are screaming and running in terror, while others are being hit by cars, and jumping off buildings. Hideo slowly realizes that a horrible zombie epidemic has broken out in Tokyo; will he be able to survive or die in the process?
“I am a Hero” has a strong cinematic feel, and is very good in the way it presents psychological tension, bringing out an overwhelming sense of dread and terror. The drawings resemble the ridiculous caricatures of Minoru Furuya and strong realism of MinetarĊ Mochizuki. And the story itself brings out author Kengo Hanazawa’s feelings towards society and its moral principles. For example, in the first issue, the main character details his thoughts on the post war product of manga culture, and expresses his passion and conviction towards the art form. He also explains how he disdains the way some people climb the social ladder through manipulation of the manga form. As he feels those people only use it as a tool, whereas for Hideo it is a way of life. These constant psychological arguments help portray the character’s identity and motives, and help align the reader with Hideo’s stance. We feel that this defining of character, gives “I am a Hero” a depth that not many manga can rival.
The story has now reached its second arc – due to increasing spread of the virus, the amounts of zombies are increasing, and the people of Japan have banded together into smaller groups for survival. Hideo’s story now takes a backseat, and the arc introduces a new character called Kurusu, who seems to be immune to the zombies. In Japan, the series has just reached its 10th volume ongoing; and the Chinese version is up to the 7th.

Text | BEBOP
Photo | Kimio Ng
Translation | Edwin Lo

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