Feb 3, 2010
Zion No Koeda is my favorite yaoi manga, and my 2nd favorite manga of any type. But I agree with bleeb that it's not easy going. Set immediately after WWII, the main characters are a Jewish doctor and the ex-Nazi who raised him. Due to various circumstances, they've ended up with reversed positions- the Jew now with absolute power over the Nazi. The story is full of violence and sadism, and won't be to every yaoi fan's taste.
But it's also beautifully drawn, psychologically complicated, and, at least to my mind, very moving. The story is essentially about the intersection between love and violence, and is
one of the few stories available in which a long-term abusive relationship is treated with the multi-layered complexity of real life. It's told mostly from the Jewish seme ex-victim/now-perpetrator's perspective, and his growth as a person is what I find most compelling about the story.
My one complaint with Zion no Koeda is that there's a pretty big gap in the characters' understanding of their situation between chapter 2 and chapter 3 (the last chapter). The chapters were written years apart, and it's obvious. Read as they were released, part of the beauty of the story is how the mangaka's own ideas about it have grown over time. But read all at once, it's a bit overwhelming.
In the tankoubon, this issue is mitigated a little by having some unrelated oneshots and some chibi chapters in between (there are 9 chapters in the tankoubon, but only three of them make up the main story). But for scanlation readers, taking a break for a couple days, or even weeks between the 2nd and 3rd chapter would probably make it a better read.
> Therefor I beg you please: If you have any knowledge of the
> third empire or west or east Berlin, please do not read this story.
> It'll be torture.
> I cannot possible imagine a SS'er that doesn't kill Jews.
> Even in the sweetest fiction. No way.
This is the area where my opinion varies the most from bleeb's review.
I think a decent knowledge of history is essential for enjoying the story. There's no implication whatsoever in the story that the Nazi uke/current-victim wasn't involved in killing Jews. On the contrary, the story depends on the understanding that he had to have been. By making him SS, the mangaka has set up straight from the splash page that the uke/current-victim was once the perpetrator and vice-versa. Without this piece of the story, the whole thing is just random Nazi BDSM porn, rather than a serious treatment of how violence affects people's lives and relationships.
It's gorgeous. What else is there to say?
Imo, the seme's character is one of the best, most sympathetic depictions of what prolonged violence does to a person's character that I've ever read. The uke's character is not quite as fleshed-out though.
I can't say very specifically what made this story so moving and wonderful for me without including ginormous spoilers. So I'll merely say that the mangaka writes incredibly compassionate stories, their hopefulness and grace in the face of tragedy is what makes them special, and Zion No Koeda was a perfect demonstration of those qualities.
What did you think of this review?