After the body dies, the soul lives on. Many spirits progress toward the world of light, through the levels of the spirit world where they study how to improve their souls. These spirits are sometimes reincarnated into the physical world, and sometimes they are sent back as guardian spirits for other living people. Guardian spirits must protect their charges souls from the blackness that oozes up from the world of darkness below.
Riyon is a very laid-back spirit, who often skips her spirit classes to fool around. To train her further, she is sent back to the physical world as a guardian spirit. Instead of following a human from birth, she is helping a beleaguered man, the Japanese Prime Minister Kasuga Soichiro, in the last year and a half of his life. After an unexpected close call with death, Kasuga gains some unusual talents, including the ability to see Riyon. Will Riyon and Kasuga together be able to protect his battered soul?
This manga was PHENOMENAL. I can't believe there aren't any reviews yet. The story was completely unique from what I could tell. The art was a little bit sketchy but it fit the story PERFECTLY. I didn't think I'd like it because I'm more drawn to shoujo-like art. However, after about one or two chapters, I changed my mind COMPLETELY. It just adds to the story. The characters were a bit confusing and it was hard to remember who was who. However, the main characters were well thought out. I really enjoyed this manga. I would stalk the website I use day after day
just for an update. I'm so glad that the translators finished finally. It was worth the wait. Finally, this was the only manga that made me cry. I don't mean mangas that make you feel like you're going to cry. I mean, I started to BAWL my eyes out around the last 5 chapters and I hadn't even read it in MONTHS. That's saying a LOT. This is my favorite manga now. (Although I think Pandora Hearts will top it once it finishes. But that's a whole other review.)
Firstly, the summary on the Hito Hitori Futari page misses the entire point of the manga, which is politics; the whole saving-the-soul thing is only a result of political actions taken by the Prime Minister on his road to denuclearisation. It's a little secondary in the plot.
So a better summary would be this:
Riyon is a soul that's been rather naughty in the Death Realm because she's been ditching Afterlife School (yes, you'll never get rid of it. Ever.) and has gotten into serious trouble because of it. So, she gets sent down as a guardian spirit to “refine” her soul and ends up with, as
chance might have it, the Prime Minister. This story is set in 2011 and faces the turmoil that is Japan's Fukushima Daiichi incident.
So, the manga tackles this nuclear problem in the form of having Riyon and the Prime Minister team up to take down the powerplants in Japan, facing the political jungle of the government that stops them from creating a safer and saner way of living for the citizens and the entire world.
Assuming you've done thorough research, you should agree with the Prime Minister too. **Nudge, nudge**
Throughout the entire story, the idea that denuclearisation in Japan should be achieved through the guidance of the Japanese Prime Minister is highlighted endlessly. The author goes to great lengths to show how this could happen, the resulting feuds within the government that could occur and the international political discontent that this may cause. This discontent and pissed-off-ness is visually presented in the manga through the idea of black balls or evil spirits oozing out of people trying to rip the Prime Minister and Riyon to spiritual shreds. Inspite of this, the ideal Prime Minister, Kasuga still strives to get rid of nuclear energy for Japan and its people.
Big thumbs up for the main theme of the story. I like the concept and the scenario.
Secondly, the art style for the entire 8 volume manga was c-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-t (read: pure awesomeness) and REALISTIC (subtracting the evil psychopathic guy); even the eyes, bro! There weren't any sparkles, surreal blobby shapes or anything! The features were totally proportional. The author had outdone himself with the illustrations, his style had added a darker ambiance to the settings and really brought out another dimension to the story-telling. I just can't seem to detract anything from it (scary, right?).
However, we've come to the inevitable 'however' in this review, which is mainly caused by the crappy content that are the plot ideas and their various contradictory inconsistencies.
From the first page (literally, page 1 i.e. the page after the chapter list) we see the beginning of a paradox. In the first page, it is stated quite clearly that ALL souls have guardian spirits, this is disproved within chapter 1 itself (probably after the author took a long nap) through the secretary pointing to a field of souls who don't have guardian spirits as a way to show Riyon her options. Of course, when the inconsistencies start from page 1, you probably expect my mental Black Book of Manga Inconsistencies having pages, PAGES of contradicting and, just absolutely random things happening within the plot-line. But I think I've made my point clear so I think more examples won't help.
Then we tackle the tepid ideas that the author came up with for this manga (to his defence Takahashi-sensei has written better works than this). Such as: WHY is the afterlife a desert? Could he not have thought of a better way to picture the afterlife? If this desert afterlife is “beautiful”, as one character declares, then all those people living in Sub-Saharan Africa must be livin' the life. Boy, does never-ending sun and sand bring a limitless joy to peoples hearts. Not.
That aside, why do we never get to see other scenes of the afterlife, like Heaven? Aren't some characters supposed to end up there? If not, then where's Hell? Why don't we ever get to see these places that are so fundamental to the afterlife? After all, it IS the afterlife.
Then, of course, we have the entire theme of karmic balance and fairness. Okay, if those things exist, where are the law enforcers of the spirit world? If there is going to be balance and laws (which apparently, there are in the manga), who says a person is guilty or innocent for breaking the law on Earth? Apparently, no one.
There's a guy in Japan doing something that suspiciously looks like bad shit but oh well, it's just the Prime Minister that has to suffer a psychopath that's acting like an unhuman darkness-vessel/witch. It must be karma...
If we assume that it is karma, then why does that psychopath NOT suffer karmic punishment? Where the Hell is the fairness in that?!
Having (barely) tamed my desire to further violently jab holes in the smack-forehead-bad plot-line, the question of would I recommend this comes to mind.
Do I like the theme? Yes.
Do I think it was presented as best as it could? No.
Was it presented so badly that it would make me consider killing myself and wish MyAnimelist had a -27 score? No.
I think it's a good read. It's not the best read but it's certainly, MUCH better than the regular mainstream quality (read: inverse-diarrhoea inducing) manga. I would not recommend this for people looking for a mind-twisting-ly flippin' awesome read. BUT if you're having a good day, needing a nice read, what's not to like?