On January 3, 2011, ER doctor Matsuoka Tsuyoshi examines a patient presenting influenza symptoms. The next day, the patient dies from multiple-organ failure, followed by others who had shown the same symptoms. As the death toll rises, even the high-tech Japanese are at a loss over how to check the further spread of the deadly virus.
Upon seeing a few sample pages, I was really looking forward to reading this manga. After all, the art looked brilliant, the genres all fit my tastes and I love a quick read.
Unfortunately, in hindsight, the art turned out to be the only enjoyable thing about 'Kansen Rettou'. The detail adds impact to both the gruesome and the beautiful frames, but not quite enough to keep the mere seven chapters from seeming like dozens.
To be fair, the story isn't bad at all, it simply is what it is. If you've ever seen or read a single movie, anime, manga or book about a sudden
unknown virus outbreak, then you know this whole story. There are a few small scenes that have a bit of emotional impact, but overall it feels like it's only going through the motions and following a familiar equation. Patient Zero --> Unknown Virus --> Uh oh! No Cure --> Lots of people die, etcetera and so on.
If you have nothing better to do and you don't expect anything spectacular going in, then give it a try, but if you're looking for interesting characters or something that grabs you and keeps you interested, I would look somewhere else.
Characterization is, more or less, thrown right out the window. This is very event based, and the first page makes that very clear. This is a 'what if' scenario of what may take place when a country is plagued with a new disease. Very lightly, it takes into account the struggles people will face and what surrounds them. However, the biggest issue is that the events that take place are incredibly limited by the scope of the antagonistic power. The only scale we get in respect to the world in Kansen Rettou is numbers telling us how much of the population carries this unknown virus.
Beyond that, we don't learn the political conflicts, social struggles, or even the bare essentials to know what impact this has other than death.
Credit where credit is due, we do get a taste of some socio-economic shut-down in response to the disease, but it's very simple and doesn't get expanded on. The majority of this narrative is spent within the emergency room with screaming doctors left and right. Then there's a pause for 2 seconds for characters to say something with weight or value (met with a single or double page spread) and it really gets tiring.
The minor character arc that's within the narrative felt pretty cool, but like everything else, it's weighed down by emergency room horrors. Had this been 2 volumes to expand on some of the characterization, I think it's likely we would have found a real gem that pursues the conflict of an overwhelming death plague and the weight of carrying lives on your shoulders in the medical profession. Instead, what we get is a grotesque, borderline exploitation of a modern bubonic plague.
Masasumi has a signature fantasm to his work. It's gorgeous in all the right places, disgusting in the others. I never go used to seeing the sickly patients which was a surprise because of how much emergency room stuff is thrown in this. Since the narrative is limited to a hospital, the scenes get drawl and uninspiring and since there's so many single-double page spreads they start to lose their impact.
A lot of the worlds expansion, or impact of the disease, is limited to text overlaying a few panels of the ER, but what would have been great to see is a booming metropolis in the first few chapters and then a desolate artificial jungle in the last few chapters. Expanding the artistic paneling beyond the Hospital would have added a lot more realism. There's only one or two times this takes place, and I have to say I was a little disappointed by it.
Good enough. They play their parts and that's all they needed to do. Nobody 'jumps the shark' to save anyone, and nobody breaks character. There really isn't a lot here to discuss. There's a bit of characterisation but it's very minor and, man I can't stress this enough, suppressed by the ER sequences.
Boring but interesting. If anyone really wants to experience a strong narrative based on a realistic vision of a pervasive new disease, I'd direct you to Contagion. It's a movie that came out a few years ago that features an all-star cast and has everything that I hoped this would be. It's virtually the same narrative but with socio-economic conflicts, compelling character drama, and the unbelievable suffering of an incurable disease. Had I not seen that before, it's likely I would have enjoyed this narrative a little more. That said, I'm not disappointed in reading this. The artwork alone is quite enjoyable, and since it's only one volume I don't feel like I wasted my time.
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