Makoto does not have it easy. He gets bullied in School and has problems with his father due to skipping School.
His outlook on life brightens when Kirisaki, a girl in his class, compliments his drawing skills. A while later he sees her getting harassed by the ringleader of his bullies. He decides to intervene, but is cut short by the revelation that she is the ringleaders girlfriend who incited the bullying in the first place.
Depressed by his situation Makoto decides to kill himself. He lands in purgatory, neither Heaven nor Hell with the mission to save the lives of six people, whose life will be negatively affected by his suicide...
I’ve read a lot of manga that deals with revenge and bullying. Needless to say, suicide is a frequently discussed topic within those manga. However, it’s rare to see a manga that delves into the effects of a suicide on a victim’s surroundings.
Rengoku no Karma does exactly that. It actually shows a suicide, but then it goes on to show the unexpected consequences of that suicide in relation to those around the victim.
The manga deals with the subject decently enough, though at times it doesn’t explain things thoroughly. For example, why does the manga specifically say six people are affected? I had
assumed it relates to the ‘6 degrees of separation’ concept, but it’s not something the manga confirms.
Still, in spite of the less than stellar handling of the story, the sheer subject matter alone is enough to drive the manga along. What really adds to this is that the story utilizes the ‘time loop’ concept – that is every time the character fails, time restarts and he has to try again. Each attempt results in different reactions and different consequences.
Each of these concept alone would make for a very engaging manga. So the fact that the manga uses them in tandem makes for a highly engaging read.
Overall, it’s still early in the manga’s life at this point in time so it’s hard to see where it goes, but so far, it has proven to be something worth checking out, so I highly recommend this manga.
Suicide is a topic that, while included in narrative quite often, is not often the focus. Those few times when it is, more often than not, the story follows the character in the events leading up to their suicide rather than what happens to the character after. And honestly, most of the time when the focus IS on what happens after the suicide, it is not well done. This is one of those cases.
To be fair, this manga is actually quite interesting. The events that the protagonist goes through in his own little Purgatory are surprising and at times exciting and it does a
pretty good job of holding its readers' interest. As well, the art, though nothing special, is consistently good. The characters, for the most part, are quite flat at trope-ish, but that's quite normal in this kind of manga.
The problem I have with this series is a problem I have as someone who has dealt with suicidal ideation for the majority of my life and has helped other people work through their own suicidal thoughts. Because this series focuses on how much OTHERS are negatively affected by someone's suicide which, as most people who have been suicidal can tell you, is not as original one might think and is very much not a good thing for suicidal people to see.
Suicidal people KNOW that their potential suicide will have a negative affect on others, it's not something we're completely oblivious to, and trying to write a narrative of "LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE WITH YOUR SELFISH ACTION" honestly comes across as very ignorant of what people experiencing depression go through. The idea of having to "redeem" yourself after suicide is harmful and tired and works more towards further guilting people going through an extremely painful mental illness rather than taking any steps to try to help them. This takes an even bigger step down as the story focuses on the protagonist having to try to save people who abused him and directly lead to his suicide.
To summarize, Rengoku no Karma is interesting but, as a suicide survivor, it leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth.