The story follows Jeremy, who is sexually abused by his stepfather. Mentally disturbed by this, Jeremy goes down a path of murder; however, he accidentally finds himself the murderer not only of his stepfather, but also his own mother.
Soon his stepbrother Ian begins to suspect him as well as discover the twisted truth about his own father.
I've been itching to write this for a long time by now.
Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai Suru is a catching story about a high school boy trying to cope with his stepfather regularly abusing him. He's suffering, running away, crying and losing it, then he faces it and solves his problem only to find another one. He is constantly giving up and trying to vanish, then being forced to live and try again.
It's not 'BL' as such, but certainly a piece full of love, desire, overlooking, suffering and regret.
This manga started in 1993. That is a year before I was even
born, so of course the art is not as fancy as in some newer ones. If you give this up because of it, I pity you. It's not bad at all once you get used to it.
The characters are beautifully pictured with real personalities, combining both good and bad traits. Sometimes the characters are lost and looking for help, sometimes they fight and face the reality. Everyone is unique and I have the feeling that even those of peripheral importance are strong individuals.
I laughed, I cried, I was completely drawn in the story. I wasn't feeling bored even once. This manga is just brilliant.
To sum it up, I love this manga. I found it when I was looking for something psychological - and it may actually be the best manga I've ever read. It's a masterpiece.
However, I would recommend it only to those who are able to understand the meaning of being wounded and can accept that sometimes, wounded people do stupid nonsense when trying to forget the pain.
The artwork is really eye-catching at times, great detail, very beautiful and distinct. A dramatic story that really grabs you from the very first pages. I come across this manga by accident, and was so glad I did.
It's a detailed story although the page count isn't high, a lot of info is discussed for a manga and things go on. It is a continuing series, so I will look forward to reading more from this writer.
Vulnerabilities are like glass threads. Communicating, the desire to understand one another- there's always a risk of breaking. The world is filled with people in the process of breaking. If you want to go through life without getting hurt, the only option is isolation. If its one or the other, in order not to break and not be broken, is choosing isolation equal to death? If so, is death something to be so afraid of in the first place?
Maybe there's someone out there who doesn't fear death, in that vein, isolation. We don't really hear from them, so they seemingly don't exist. Surely they exist.
Collectively they exist like forgotten people, dreams, and thoughts. But so what? We're not here for an abstract concept like lost art.
I expected a messed up story, a melodramatic cliche to topple over itself. For a brief time, it felt that way. I had smug self satisfaction thinking that. But the story continued, and continued. And I was sated for all of my true desires. I was very satisfied by this story. It was very sensible. There was no unwanted preaching. There were no cheap, one dimensional characters. There wasn't even a background character that didn't have their own life constantly on their mind.
No one acted in a ridiculous manner without reason. There were no mind boggling misunderstandings. There was only slow, satisfying revelation. Feeling frustration, as a reader toward a certain aspect, is acceptable if it is the intention of the writer.
Jeremy's feelings muddled everything he saw. When Ian began to share his same memories and dreams, it was not confusing to follow what was happening. Following the story along, understanding what the characters were going through...
It's so incredible that a writer can have a skill such as emotional manipulation. It's required to reach the hearts of readers. Readers want to be taken in another world, right? They want to be emotionally moved. In other words, we're willing to be vulnerable with the author's intentions. It's give and take. In that way, I feel that this author thoroughly respects her audience.
This is a very refined, very developed story with gorgeous artwork that very strongly desires to communicate with its reader. It will take the time to lay bare all of its fibers so that it can to be understood.
Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai Suru, otherwise known as A Cruel God Reins in its English translation, is much more than just your ordinary story. What's astonishing about this is that the plot is not extraordinary at all. It has no fantasy elements, no sci-fi, no action, and it's definitly not even close to being what many would consider a romance. No, what is most appealing about this manga is not any form of grandeur but the realism of it's plot and characters.
This manga takes a serious plot line and actually portrays it and its subject matter in a true-to-life fashion. Rape, torture, emotional and
mental abuse, prostitution, drugs, blackmail, suicide, and murder are all things portrayed in this manga as they really are. There is no sugarcoating, no explanations or excuses, just truth. This is what makes this manga stand out more than many of the titles sharing it's genre.
As for its actual genres, Drama, Josei, Mature, Psychological, Slice Of Life, and Tragedy are mentioned and all run true. Most understandable is the Psychological aspects and the tragedy. In fact,this manga actually begins with the expressive line, "Let me tell you about a tragedy." and even if you can't remember any other lines from the story, I can guarantee you'll always remember that first sentence.
This story is also, however, labeled as a yaoi or shounen ai. As much as one may like or appreciate the genre, there is no denying that many of the story lines in this group can be predictable and unrealistic. I can honestly tell you now that despite being labeled as a yaoi, this is in no way about gays or a gay story. Those that do not like yaoi or shounen ai have just as much a chance of liking this story as those that do.
The scenes of sex are not much scenes at all. You see nothing of the actual sex and only the before and after effects of the act. This manga definitely has no intention of turning anyone on or encouraging sexual behavior. In fact, If this manga or any of its scenes in any way excite you, you probably do have some deeply rooted psychological problems you should get checked out. This might actually scare some away from sex, or at least beat into people's head how serious it actually is and should be taken. Nowadays sex is over-rated and overemphasized in today's media, and often that media doesn't give people the right idea about many topics, not just sex. I thank this manga and it's writer, Hagio Moto, seriously and relish the day I found this story and it's tragic and amazing portrayal of its character's sad lives.
Having said all that, this story is definitely not for everyone. As stated before it's not graphic, but the actual subject manner itself is so serious that many people may not be able to read through it to its end. Even I, who pride myself on being able to read almost anything, no matter how painful, often found myself in tears over some of the stories circumstances. Other times, I would get so angry that my hands would ball into fists, my teeth would clench, and I'd actually feel like punching something. There really is no describing the emotional turmoil I went through when reading this but, long story short, those that are looking for a happy, romantic, or sexy story should stay the heck away from this.
The story is basically about a young normal teenage boy named Jeremy who's sensitive mother Sandra gets remarried after a while of being alone. He is happy for her, but eventually this new man starts to show his true colors as a sadist and a pedophile and targets him. He is repeatedly blackmailed and forced into obeying this man and after months of horrific abuse, his mind becomes unstable and his thoughts vicious. Unable to take the pain of this torture any longer, Jeremy decides to kill his stepfather. His plans and the effect they have bring Jeremy crashing down completely when in the attempt he kills not only his stepfather but his mother as well.
While being tormented by the guilt and pain of this tragic miscalculation, Ian, Jeremy's older stepbrother, observes his much weirder behavior and starts to suspect that Jeremy, in fact, did kill them. However, after discovering that Jeremy was in fact regularly abused by his father beforehand, Ian finds himself unable to come to terms with and decide what he should do with this information.
Eventually finding that he himself lusts after Jeremy, Ian becomes disturbed and scared of his own mind and thoughts, wondering if he may be much like his father. Their relationship and, in fact, everyone's relationship in this manga become frayed and difficult to really put a name to. No character is this story is perfect. They all have their obvious flaws and they all have their own good sides too.
Without giving away too much on the actual plot that's really as much as I can give you in a review but since the characters are pretty much the true jewels in the story I'd be truly remiss to forget mentioning at least the most important of them.
First we have our main character Jeremy. Jeremy goes through a lot of changes throughout the story. We start off with a normal and seemingly happy teenager that lives and is close with his mother and has many friends, even an amazing girlfriend named Vivi. However, with the introduction of his new stepfather, into his life, we see him start to become more quiet and introverted. We watch his slow yet steady fall into insanity. We watch as the torture and turmoils eventually begin to effect him so badly that he begins to contemplate and actually carry out murder. Jeremy is my favorite character mainly because I understand his motivations the best. I find that many of his reactions match what I myself would have probably done in the situation, and as scary as that is, giving his actual situation, his authentic character makes him a great lead.
Next I'll give a brief summary of Jeremy's older stepbrother, Ian. At first we can interpret Ian as your average good looking playboy. He's apparently good at getting girls and through most of the story he has one. Of course him being in this particular story means he'll end up being much more than that. In many instances, it's Ian that's looking after Jeremy or trying to help him, even if the way he goes about things is often not all that helpful. Part of the problem with Ian stems from his ignorance. With everything that is going on and with all the clues he is offered, many from Jeremy himself, he still does not put two and two together. In fact even when told alright what is happening between Jeremy and his own father, he refuses to believe it until given concrete proof and, he unintentionally hurts Jeremy more than once. Even with the proof he seems to just have a hard time coming to terms with stuff, and it's apparent that he does not understand Jeremy at all although he's constantly trying to.
Next we have both Sandra, Jeremy's mother, and Greg, the stepfather.
You see right off the bat that Sandra is a very sensitive woman. She doesn't take things well, or more accurately, at all really. She's attempted suicide quite a few times, and even the smallest things seem to send her over the brink. Sandra is a very messed up character, and this causes me to have very mixed feelings about her. On one hand, I understand her and her depression since my mother suffers the same way and, in fact, has a lot in common with this woman. I'm also furious with her, because if she had been a better and stronger mother and really looked into what was going on and tried to stop it, then none of the tragic incidents in this manga would have had to occur. I know it's usually not fair to point fingers or put the blame on any particular person, especially since quite a numerous set of people share the blame for what happened, and continued to happen, between Jeremy and Greg, but I see her guilt as the greatest. Jeremy really cared for his mother and, in most of the incidents, suffered through what he did just so she wouldn't have too. While she was living a happy and seemingly cheerful life, as we saw from the outside, her son was suffering and she never did anything to help.
Greg, however, is the true horror of this story. Without him there is no plot and no real horror. You are never given any true reason for why he is the way he is or how he came to be that way, so it's easiest to just think of him as a psychopath. It's definitely the title that best fits him. He brutally tortures not just Jeremy but Natasha and other prostitutes from the past as well, and feels no apparent remorse. He gets off on other's pain and even treats his youngest son Matt as if he is not his while just seemingly ignoring Ian. The thing with Greg is that he's a good actor. In the eyes of people that haven't been abused by him, he gives off the image of a perfect English gentleman. This makes it all the more terrible for those that are stuck in his trap of abuse and torment. He tells Jeremy that he does what he does to him because he loves him, which probably completely turns Jeremy off from the feeling and the word in the future.
As many more characters as there are, those are the main four and mostly the glue and the whole of which the whole rest of the story centers around.
This manga is not for the faint of heart and not something that some people would want to read. However if it matches the type of story you believe yourself to be interested in, you will definitely not regret having checked this one out.
The Art: 8/10
The last thing I want to talk about for this manga is the art. The manga started releasing in 1992 so some of the drawings and character designs will have a style about them that some won't like. Personally I love the art and think it was done in the best way for the subject manner. Lots of beautiful and symbolic imagery is used throughout the story and people that don't like the art even have to admit that it has some great images. The art can and will eventually grow on anyone if you give it time, so don't let that be the reason you don't give this manga a longer look.
Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai or A Cruel God Reins is a tragedy manga about serious subjects actually taken seriously. I believe this manga to be a masterpiece in it's own right and a true must read for people that want something a little more real life.