If you're looking for a non bias review, this isn't one. For myself, this is exactly the manga I have been searching for. Scouring never ending lists of anime in looking for a mature, esper/super ability, well drawn, high action, takes place in a microcosm (prison,) and has several main characters with interesting abilities kind of manga.
I found all of this in Area D. I shall make some attempt to be objective especially since I am writing this at chapter 36 and feel it's a bit early to rate the story and characters in the middle of their being established.
*Only spoilers is for the actual setting of the prison. As the characters do not know what to expect until they get there and might neither.
While a prison setting, even one with abilities is nothing new I find this one interesting so far. The 'Arkham Asylum' set up of Area D allows for great freedom of writing and social inner workings of the prison. Many similar mangas employ gimmicky prison systems, like Deadman Wonderland's Corpse Carnival and any such setups where combatants are forced to fight. Here, that doesn't happen and in it's place they establish a system that actually makes sense for a military controlled prison for the super power. Even then currency system allows for people to focus more on the story and less time worrying about getting food or, in some cases getting serum to negate collar poison (really Deadman Wonderland, really?)
The warring factions of the prison are very exciting so far. They promise for more interesting conflicts and already give rise to favorite characters outside the main cast. The established events years prior to the start of the series has set up most of the major conflicts at this point and at the same time interconnected many of the characters besides having abilities and being placed in the same prison. (Trying to stay well clear of spoilers here.)
I am going to say 8 for now because I think it's very well written and the best presented prison survival to date. I am really wanting to know how the tension between theses factions affects our protagonists and to determine who really ARE the antagonists of the series. I see great margin for the series to end up with a 10 at the end. (I hope.)
While everyone has their own taste in art, and I myself prefer realistic and gritty art that show great detail to musculature and expansive back drops. Having said that the quality of this art is consistently impressive. Frames are dense and layered, characters are drawn with detail in every frame and are athletically pleasing while anatomically accurate (unless you are a giant lizard man... then not so realistic I guess.)
One of the first thing that catches my eye is art work and I find this to be top notch.
Another reason I'd love to hold off my review is that many characters' story have not been explored and it has just been enough time to establish their ambitions. A significant amount of time has not elapsed in order to show character growth or see how they all play into the whole plot. So far there are some cliches when it comes to the some, but I enjoy the interactions of a large cast introduced incrementally but still rather quickly in the series time frame. I like most all the characters introduced thus far whether it be for your personality or ability. The characters' ties with the already preexisting faction conflict with in and out of the prison give them some considerable depth for the the time frame thus far.
This is literally the exact manga I have been looking for. I would give a 10 in a heart beat but as long as this series is being serialized the jury is till out and therefore I cannot condone a perfect score (as of yet.) This became one of my top 3 mangas of all time in a 24 hour period. I had reading another manga that I found enjoyable and read a large amount of chapters and then decided to give this one a quick trial right before bed and found myself unable to put it down. Prior to that experience I had tried about 5 series over the course of that week and while also all similar to my preferred genres I because dis-enthused.
Like I said this is right up my ally but I think that I can justify most of my thoughts. I admit its a little early to commit to permanent rating for the story and characters, but for now, this manga is my most anticipated of every week, as I even have a desire to readit again (a rare feeling, especially so soon after first run through.)