Hey otakus, have you heard? Dragon Ball Z the movie is coming to cinemas in Baltimore August 5th. Why is that important? Because Otakon is a few days after that, and what better way to bring in an anime convention then with a series that helped spread anime greatness to the states? And since the anime is so close, let’s jump to our series review. This week, we’re doing Green Worldz.
With apocalyptic manga like High School of the Dead, Apocalypse no Toride, and I am a Hero, Green Worldz fits into the horror niche quite nicely. But (because there’s always a ‘but’), at the same time, it doesn’t. Breaking it down, the story follows Akira. He’s just a guy trying to make it home to see his childhood friend and love interest. There’s hardly anything wrong when he gets on the train. Then he gets on the train and has hell handed to him in a boxcar lunch. It is literally a few hours stuck underground, and when the inhabitants on the train come up above ground, everything’s green. Some kind of super weeds have sprung up, killed nearly everyone, consumed the others and turned Japan into a garden of death with posies. But don’t worry, there’s more than killer plants that go to sleep at night. There’s also giant plant human hybrid babies that snack on normal people thinking they’re safe underground… or above ground, or even in an office building.
For all the bashing that dripped from that description, it really is a compelling manga with interesting aspects to it. The plot to the story keeps reminding you that this is all about Akira getting back to his hopefully still living girl-friend, Yui. The meat of the series is the characters as you get a broad spectrum of folks trying to figure out what’s what. Those that can’t adapt die and those like Akira learn to play the hand their dealt. The first volume introduces the hybrids—or rather the one, and tries to give you the impression of just how much the world had changed from that first day to three months later. Of course, there’s also another girl who is oddly tempered for someone that’s watching everyone around her get eaten. But then she has to be, she’s got the bow and make-shift arrows. Nashina is actually so innocent, at some point, you know that she’s going to crack or get killed. But for now, she’s Akira’s rock. Akira needs a rock as he’s constantly reminding himself and others why he’s doing all this. At first, this comes across as annoying, but really looking at it, you get the clues that Akira may not be all there anymore. His world has been flipped on its head and all the blood is rushing the wrong way. It’s this reason that the manga is so intriguing as it gives a better and better glimpse of human nature in its variety when faced with hopeless odds and extinction.
The art of the series at first was a turn off. The first few coloured pages just made the series too kid friendly. People either looked too cartoonish or it just didn’t seem to have the right shading. But after the mangaka dropped the colour, the traditional shonen art came across beautifully. The art of the series is nicely drawn, giving very good detail when it counts – like when drawing corpses and monsters. You can tell that a lot of study went into plants, insects, and babies when designing certain creatures as they stand out more than the standard art style.
Now, how does the story style stand up? As interesting as the manga can be, it’s a slow build up to things. Things in the story seem to be always be moving and shaking, but the story build is slow. There’s more time spent running, surviving, and fighting than there seems to be genuine story. The story doesn’t leave you on the edge of your seat as much as other manga of the same genre that came out at the same time (like Apocalypse no Toride). As for the horror value, that’s pretty good, though spare. You’re not scared for anyone’s life, even when they’re in the jaws of death. There’s a good deal of shock value, but that’s about it.
All in all, the manga is decent, but it has a ways to go. Still, only the first few volumes of the story are out, so it’s not too late for it to pick up some momentum and charge forward. Let’s hope that it gets the chance.