For the sooty industrial town's lads there's only one point of light: the Light Club, a secret brotherhood they've organized in an abandoned factory. They're on the verge of booting up their crowning achievement, a "thinking machine" fueled by lychee fruits. At the same time, the middle schoolers' cooties-fearing solidarity is devolving into a downright National Socialist muck of murderous paranoia, perverse aestheticism, and (not always) suppressed homosexuality.
First off, since you're on this manga's page you probably already know what you're getting into. If that isn't the case, I highly advise that if you have not had any experience or prior knowledge of the ero-guro (erotic grotesque) and yaoi genres to NOT READ THIS MANGA.
Yes, it is very, very explicit.
Litchi Hikari Club is an adaptation of a theatrical play of the same name that was performed at the Tokyo Grand Guignol Theatre in 1985.
(For those who do not know, the original Grand Guignol was located in Paris, France, and became infamous for it's horror-themed performances that involved large
amounts of violence and gore. It was later closed in 1962, due to World War II and the Holocaust making people realize that violence isn't exactly hilarious.)
Litchi Hikari Club tells the macabre tale of the club of same name, which involves a boy named Zera and his eight followers attempting to create the ultimate Artificial Intelligence. And then everything goes horribly wrong. This may sound a bit average, but it's executed so well that it even breaks away from the genre it's supposed to be. This isn't just porn and gore, there's drama with twisted romance, as well as friendships, betrayals, and a plot that's built off of both ancient and modern philosophy. All in one volume, to boot.
The beginning of the manga took a little bit for me to get into (the German dialogue surely didn't help, aside from creating the creepy mood), but after that the ball dropped and didn't stop rolling until the last page.
If there's one thing that should stand out with Litchi Hikari Club, it's the artwork (which surely you must have noticed by now). To put it simply, it's incredible. Usamaru Furuya's ability as a mangaka is quite remarkable, and any fan of manga artists such as Tajima Sho-U (MPD Psycho, Galerians) and Obata Takeshi (Death Note, Bakuman) will easily be drawn in by his style. While many of Furuya's older works have a rather average to mediocre style outside of his more detailed fine-art inspired panels (take Palepoli for example), he draws the characters of LHC with large amounts of detail, as well as creating backgrounds that define the industrial-dystopian-esque wreck they live in.
And sticking true to it's roots, the gore is drawn equally as well. It's intense, enough to make any fan of horror and the grotesque look away (but then they'll have to look back again, it's so painstakingly drawn to detail.)
For the most part, the manga adaptation of Litchi Hikari Club sticks with the original, aside from what looked like one name that was changed. Although the majority of the characters dress in a similar school uniform, each has their own unique personality quirks that separate them from one another, from Zera's sick and twisted Elagabulus-esque complex to Kaneda's constant thumb nomming.
However, due to the length of the manga, most character development is cut short on the secondary characters and left to the protagonists. This is kind of forgivable in my eyes, since it's still part of the horror genre, which usually leaves out developement and sticks with stock character types, but I would've liked to have known a little more about the less important members of the club.
Litchi Hikari Club does everything it should do for a series of the ero-guro and yaoi genres, and more. It's shocking, twisted, and leaves such an impact (the final chapter comes to mind instantly) it's near unforgettable. As I've said before though, if you're not interested in a series built on violence and lewdicity, you may want to check out something else.
Litchi Hikari Club was able to carve itself a bloody niche in my manga-loving heart. It was made with such panache that it could actually give a positive light to the ero-guro and yaoi scenes.
If you need a good scare, a devious plot, or just want to look at some great artwork, Litchi Hikari Club is the manga to pick up. It's a guilty pleasure that's worth the time.
To be honest with you guys, I have read this manga a while ago. However, because of the content and how disturbing it is, I had to mull it around the brain for a little bit.
The art is gorgeous and rightfully disturbing especially in certain scenes of the manga. The artist sure knows to add in those extra details when it comes to the human body – especially through the eyes of a young, disturbed, Japanese middle school boy.
From the get-go, you can tell this manga is one of those black comedy types with a lot of gore and B-movie type science. The idea of
the club is these boys don’t want to grow up to become “filthy” adults with a goal to create a robot with the ultimate AI technology who runs on lychee fruits. There’s a leader who is worshiped as a God (because of a passing fortune when he was a little younger) nicknamed Zera.
During the course of the manga, it’s revealed that, originally, the Light Club was formed between three friends but over time, they invited other boys – who never seemed to fit in within their classes – and eventually Zera took over the club and uses the boys as his personal soldiers. And, if any of the boys messes up, they get punished – very violently.
The story itself isn’t very good, once you remove yourself from the gore, disturbing images, and the beautiful bond between Litchi (the robot) and Kanon (a girl they kidnapped and decided to worship as a goddess).
It’s a typical story of a ruler gone mad with paranoia and obsesses over the possibility of a traitor. The whole traitor spiel started because Litchi wasn’t just built to become the ultimate “thinking” robot – they wanted to kidnap girls because they were curious about them and since they had already killed a teacher (in a very brutal way), they wanted to find a girl to worship as their goddess.
The betrayals start when Zera finds one of his black chess pieces broken. They end up killing one of them right off the bat by breaking his spine in half. This was when murmurings of ending Zera’s rampage started to go across. Soon, the kids start dropping one by one. In fact, after Litchi had kidnapped some other girls (due to programming trial & errors), they put them in a cage. One of them releases them and had their sister raped as a result.
There’s even a scene where one of them catches Zera having sex with another boy – but the boy who caught them is in too deep with his loyalty for Zera. Sadly, loyalty means nothing and he is eventually killed off as well.
The only survivor was Kanon because Litchi developed feelings (truly, the ultimate AI) for her and killed itself to protect her, after he killed most of the remaining members.
Now, is it good? A lot of other reviewers would tell you it is because of the art and because of how dark and gruesome it is. This manga is really not shy about showing off genitalia (even though the boys are way underage), human innards, burnt humans, and so much more other disturbing images. They would also tell you that the author took the idea of Nazism and turned into something even more messed up than it already is. Someone might even chime in that the original story came from a play the author has seen in his youth – it’s theatrical!
Okay, but does that mean it has to have a very weak plot? After they captured the ideal girl, Kanon, they kinda threw both Litchi and Kanon aside till the last few chapters and built them up to have this “forbidden” romance. I put those in quotes because, in the end, everything was kind of predictable. You knew that there was going to be a betrayal within the ranks. You knew there was going to be something disturbing happening – especially in the first few chapters with the teacher and the random student.
But because of the singular volume count it has, it’s clearly rushed. However, that’s not really an excuse for a weak plot. This type of story is clearly fit for a way longer volume count than the one it has. There’s hardly an impact to be made here, at least for me.
I’m having a hard time remembering the key points in the actual story – but what I do remember from it is the art and that’s it.
I barely remember the characters’ names and had to re-research who they were and what their actual significance was. And the only reason why I even had to mull it around in my head were the lingering questions: “Do I really want to recommend this to anyone?” “What do I actually like about this?” “What do I actually not like about this?”
And here are my answers:
Do I really want to recommend this to anyone? No. I really don’t. This is not something for everyone, as I’m clearly bothered by it. It’s very explicit and it does not hold back on disturbing images. If you’re someone who can digest this better than I can, by all means but don’t read this while you’re around other people who are not to your level of tolerance.
What do I actually like about this? Despite my feelings towards it, the art is beautiful and unique. It goes with the theme of the story and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, the characters intrigued me. Perhaps if this went longer than one volume (as in, I get a feel for the characters, the ranks, and how things operated) I would be a lot less critical of the weak plot. I really did like looking at it even if it meant something disturbing on it – because the author intended it to be very disturbing. He got my reaction of being disgusted, disturbed, and other negative feelings. But that’s about it.
What do I actually not like about this? Besides the plot issues, I didn’t like how it was disturbing because “Wow! Look how disgusting this is! Look how shocking! Shock! Shock!” After a while, it doesn’t get as shocking as it once was. After a certain point, I felt feeling very “meh” and I just wanted to finish this. Maybe it’s good in that case that this is only one volume because, like I said, I was getting really bored. The shock did wear off for me after a while. The plot is, once again, very predictable and didn’t seem to different when get down to it. The story is very bland. The characters are bland. Again, nothing is memorable.
Overall, this manga is kind of overrated. People seem to praise it for how disturbing it is and how the art is, but take that away – what are you left with?
Based on the Tokyo Grand Guignol play of the same name, Litchi☆Hikari Club is a twisted black comedy about teenage-hood.
Giving off a strong vibe of Lord of the Flies crossed with A Clockwork Orange; LHC is ironic, explicit, violent, over-the-top, sexist, and terrifying. Not entirely unlike the inner turmoil of an average testosterone fuelled and sexually confused boy toeing the line between what is taboo and what is acceptable, testing the waters before swimming through the shallow waters of puberty and out to sea... I guess you can call it a coming of age, except with more dangling innards and megalomaniacal zeal for death.
The Light Club itself is both a metaphor for society at large and for the cruelty of one's teenage peers. To submit or to perish. The comedic blind pursuit of beauty and youth, and the overwhelming innocence shown by the boys is complemented very nicely by a good dose of sexual violence. They capture and trap girls but are ultimately unsure what to do with them. They raise their chosen doll-like girl onto the pedestal to worship and neglect at the same time. They blush at the prospect of being in the presence of girls yet feel nothing as they strip and gut their female history teacher. It may just be me, but I felt the Light Club perfectly and strikingly illustrated the dichotomy between the treatment and view of women in society.
The story of the boys is contrasted by the story of Litchi (or Lychee), the eponymous AI monster designed by Zera which foreshadows his Frankensteinian fall. Litchi is the blank slate taught to kidnap, to hurt, and to kill by the Light Club. Without spoilering too much of what is already a short story, Litchi's growth and maturation is I think a highlight of the manga.
Another one of the stand-out features of this manga for me is the theatre-like atmosphere and lighting used in the illustrations. This particular framing allows a degree of suspension of disbelief over the outrageous activities happening on stage whilst not detracting from the shock and aesthetic value. It's only a play and we are only viewers. Thus giving viewers the permission to indulge in the heinous acts in the name of art, which in turn mirrors the actions of the boys in the manga itself.
There is no subtlety to be found in this manga, the metaphors are glaringly obvious and the actions of the characters are dramatised to the extremely. Litchi☆Hikari Club reads exactly like a grotesque play about the harshness and fragility of teenagers, and I loved every page. It's only a short manga, but definitely worth reading especially if you're a fan of Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange.
Lychee Light Club is basically about a club of teenage boys who's goal is to build a Frankenstein type monster that runs on lychee fruit. They want to use this machine to capture a beautiful girl as this helps the club's emperor (basically leader), Zera take over and rule the world. The club also wants to achieve eternal beauty by staying young so they despise adults for being 'ugly'. However, Zera begins to become paranoid that there's a traitor. This is where the club begins to crumble.
I love the story of Lychee Light Club. It is 'Lord of the Flies'-ish, as it
starts off with a group that starts off a close unit but soon begin to turn on each other and it turns into pure madness. This manga uses a lot of controversial and dark topics and themes (which is probably why I personally like it so much).
There's a lot of Nazi-ish type stuff going on in the club as Zera wants complete control of the club (and the world) and he's basically turned the club, that started off innocent, into a cult that completely worships him.
Another interesting thing is seeing how power (and paranoia) has turned Zera into a complete monster.
There is also the thing with the Machine they build called Lychee. You begin to see that this machine is more human than the actual human boys in the club.
Also another topic I think it highlights is- Are the club members truly beautiful if they do horrific things to achieve their 'true beauty'?
The art is fantastic. Furuya's art is good in all of his series but in Lychee light club it manages to capture the theatricality of the story. There is a lot of gore and nudity but from what people say, there's probably less than you think. The most shocking scene of gore and nudity is probably the first one because that is the opening scene of the manga and it really does set the tone for the rest of the story.
Character wise, it's not as strong as the other elements but it is only 1 volume so Furuya couldn't really focus on secondary characters like Kaneda, Raizou and Dentaku.
There are 4 members who I consider as the main characters of the club.
There's Zera and his development is really good. It starts with him as a strong, confident but calm leader but he basically turns into a blood-thirsty, control-freak psycho.
Then there is Tamiya. Tamiya doesn't completely agree with what Zera is doing with the club. You see his journey as he realises that his club is no longer the innocent club that it started off as.
Then there is Jaibo. He is first introduced as the club's psycho. However, right at the end, it is revealed that maybe he is a lot more sensitive about than we first thought.
Then there is the last main club member that a lot of people leave out- Niko. Now, I'm not saying I'm a fan of Niko but boy do I feel awful for him. He is the most loyal member of the club yet Zera basically ignores him. Niko literally gave up an eye for Zera yet Zera doesn't really care.
Then there is Kanon, the beautiful maiden they capture. She's not got much to her but she's good to Lychee the Machine.
I think if you're wanting to learn more about the club members then check out the prequel- Bokura no Hikari Club- because that was incredibly well done too.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lychee Light Club and would recommend that you read it. Yes there is Yaoi but honestly that takes up about 4-6 pages at most and you don't actually see much happening. Even though I'm a girl, I'm not a fan of Yaoi manga or anything but there is a reason for it to be in this story. But please don't let that put you off because it really is worth reading. I would say that if you're unsure, just give the first chapter a go and if you don't like it or aren't interested about what happens next, then just don't read it. But if you do enjoy Lychee Light Club then definitely check out Bokura no Hikari Club because it gives you a bigger look into the club and how it got to where it is in Lychee Light Club.
Anyway, I give Lychee light club a score of 10 because it's a dark and twisted masterpiece.