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.
The story is about horrific over the top bulling that goes above and beyound any reason and makes you wonder whether the hell any adults are in thsi situation. The
writer drags the main character int of the worst possible abuse they could possibly depict without turning it into gore porn, and then suicide follows. Then the the character is locked in "purgatory" and is tasked to save people from misfortune his suicide brought on them.
Then we get more over the top events.
The work is titled as shounen, meaning there's a lot of over the top screaming, a lot of insane villainous characters that act beyound any reason and gloat and cackle hysterically even when beaten up, etc. Basically, the work takes sledge hammer and tries to hit all your feelings in it, inventing the absolutely worst possible dregs of that humanity that could possibly ever walk the surface of planet earth, then tortures main character before deah, and then tortures him some more after death.
None of this is believable. The story falls apart into incoherent string of overly dramatic events where everybody screams something. None of the characters look relatable. The writer tried do depict vilest of the vilest villain, and went so far that the villains no longer resemble people and instead look like clowns.
This is not enjoyable in the slightest, and as far as I'm concerned it was a massive waste of time.
If you want something GOOD, read Angel Densetsu or Properller Heaven, or something. This manga is complete garbage.
Tragedy stories are by nature hit or miss, but even in tragedy stories there is characters that you end up liking and characters that are actually definable or understandable.. in this, there is no such thing. There are zero likeable characters and the ones you think you might like you don't know what they're thinking- not because they are good at hiding it but because their character is inconsistent.
The lack of decent characters ties into my main problem with my story.. there is no reprieve. Stories fall into three categories, captivating, enjoyable or a hybrid of the two. Captivating stories are those that are
either deep in a logical or emotional sense, you become invested in the story and I am guessing this is what this story went for but in order for a story to actually captivate someone there has to be some kind of deeper meaning or silver lining. I'm aware I may be jumping the gun with the review since those things may reveal themselves later in the story but I'm not going to subject myself to the mental drain that is this story just because it MAY end up being something more and frankly I doubt that it will. If the story fails to captivate you or you having found it enjoyable before you finish the third chapter, it's not worth it.
It's not funny, there is no intense fights, there is nothing remotely thought provoking about it, all it does is make you feel like dirty and not the good kind either. No matter how I look at it, anyone who likes this story has a few screws loose themselves. I only gave it a two because I like the art style a bit, but even then while the characters are expressive the expressions are kind of odd.
[This review concerns only the first arc of the story as I dropped it after that.]
Rengoku no Karma is a manga with a somewhat thought provoking premise that ends up being terribly bungled by an author that seems to lack the writing skill to tastefully approach the subject matter. The story is hamfisted, laughably over-the-top and, to top it off, extremely pretentious in the way it's told. It all culminates with a "fake deep" ending that not only left me feeling bad, but also made me wonder what the point of even telling the story was, other than to cash in on edgy imagery and
appeal to fans of torture porn.
Sometimes, though, a bad story can be salvaged by good characters. Unfortunately for Rengoku no Karma, this is not the case as the characters were all as terribly written as the story, with each being almost comically overblown character tropes we've already seen in other manga.
There's also the inconsistent nature with how violence is portrayed. Injuries suffered by the victims are all handled with an air of realism while our main villain can somehow not only survive having his throat jammed into broken glass, but also apparently is so evil that this doesn't even phase him. Give me a f****ing break.
Maybe this premise could've been handled better by a more competent author, but unfortunately we'll never know. Save yourself the trouble and give Rengoku no Karma a pass.
Rengoku no Karma is not a manga for everybody. It deals with the heavy topic of suicide and depression, and acts as a warning against committing suicide.
It's a very sad story, and given the premise of infinitely looping to save people, you'll see quite a few people end up in bad ends, all thanks to the main character committing suicide.
This story is great. The High Schooler arc is almost perfect, aside from one small detail I'll save for later.
Now, you may have just noticed I called it an arc. Well, that is because there is a followup to it, covering what I presume to
be the last 20 chapters called the "Group Suicide Arc". I did not read it, mostly because my manga site only had the first two chapters of the arc and what I saw was enough.
This kind of story requires only one arc. The High Schooler Arc, on its own, ignoring the small detail, would be what I consider a 10/10. It is thoroughly enjoyable in addition to having a strong conclusion that leaves you satisfied after all the tension and drama it had built up for 20 chapters. A sequel diminishes this fact and makes the story feel less unique, especially when the main character isn't as strong of the original main. The Group Suicide Arc stars a young girl who aspires to be an idol, but isn't cute enough to make it, while the High Schooler Arc features a student dealing with pressure from his parents, bullies, and is betrayed by somebody he was in love with. Which one do you relate to more?
Now, let's not fret over the issues with the second arc I didn't get past the second chapter of. Just shove it out of your mind and put this thought in. Spoilers for the ending of the High Schooler Arc.
Now, at the end, the boy revives, saves one last person and fully exposes the bully and we get an epilogue after what seems to be a rather odd thought from one of the characters, that being "I feel like somebody is staring at me." A year and a half after graduation, the MC uncovers who was watching her, that being one of the people he saved, the cameragal. She proceeds to tell him she hated the other chick and tried to get her bullied into suicide. This whole twist comes out of nowhere with zero foreshadowing outside of "I was a side-character below Bully-kuns fawners", which isn't even true in a meta context. Following that, she asks the MC if he even saved anybody (which he did, having saved SEVEN, possible more people through his actions) with all his effort and he ends up COMMITTING SUICIDE AGAIN. This ruins the main message I got from the story, and just seems like it was done because the author wanted to be edgy. This isn't subversive, this isn't a good twist, this is dull. This makes me feel like I wasted my time.
So, tl;dr, good manga, sleep on the last chapter of the High Schooler Arc and the Group Suicide arc.