Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Graphic Novel Review: Zombie Loan

Title: Zombie Loan
Chapters[reviewed]: 1-23
Series Length: 12-ongoing
Creator: Peach-Pit (Banri Sendo and Shibuko Ebara)
Genre: Comedy, Horror
English Publisher: Yen Press

Series Synopsis: Michiru Kita is a special girl who possesses Shinigami Eyes, a power which allows her to see a person's nearness to their destined death by seeing a ring, invisible to normal people, around the person's neck. When a person is marked to die, a gray ring appears, which darkens over time. Once the ring turns completely black, the person dies. Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, two boys in her class, both have black rings around their necks, but to her surprise, they are not yet dead. It is revealed that after a tragic accident that was supposed to kill them both, the two boys made a deal with a secret loan office called the Zombie-Loan. In return for keeping them alive, the two have to hunt zombies for the loan office. When Michiru gets involved with them, she finds that her life has just become more complicated.

Review: The reason for the fact I am not reviewing a volume, but rather chapters, is because I began reading this online before it was licensed by Yen Press, and these are my thoughts from those chapters redone. On my personal journal I used to do reviews of manga that I liked unavailable in America, and since Zombie Loan is soooo cool to me I'm reformatting that review here.

Firstly--Zombies. But not like Living Dead Zombies...well not really. There's two or three types of Zombie classification. You have your 'contract' Zombies, who have a debt to pay to Mr. Bekko (aka: The Ferryman) before they are able to return to life. They function pretty much the same as a living person except they're nie on hard to destroy completely and can control ectoplasm to create weapons. Then you have your 'Rogue' Zombies, who are made either through trickery or base cruelty when alive. They can function almost normally...most of the time. They tend to be the violent ones who kill and eat humans, or do something equally heinous even in death, but can still think. From these Rogue Zombies you have 'Made' Zombies--if a Zombie kills a person they come back as what most would consider the classic Zombie--mindless, driven by their baser instinct to feed on human flesh.

The beginning of Zombie Loan starts off simply enough--Michiru (unwisely) decides to follow a couple of famous classmates one night and stumbles upon a serious and disasterous secret of theirs, namely that they are dead and zombies. Michiru has her own secret--without her glasses she can see the black ring around people's necks that signal the Grim Reaper has marked them for death. As their death approaches it grows darker and darker till its pitch black, then death. Chika (loud and brash) and Shito (quiet and reserved) find this out and decide that Michiru is the best thing ever--with her they can find zombies posing as humans much quicker, rake in more money and pay off their debt!

And thus does Michiru's fate change. She's impossibly apologetic--at one point she is so distraught over a wrong she did to Shito that she begins to apologize for everything from how they died to Global Warming being her fault. She's persistent and manages to be helpful in her own bumbling way. Chika is obnoxious and money-driven and pushy--but he cares. Once you meet his father and sister it kind of becomes obvious why he is the way he is. Shito...well. The story there is a little more twisted and complicated.

3 major things happen up to Chapter 23:
1) Michiru learns about Zombie Loan and becomes part of the team (reluctantly).
2) An old friend of Chika's turns up, insinuating himself into the Z-Loan team. At the same time a mass murderer called 'The Butterfly' is kidnapping college girls and brutally killing them via webcam--with a cult following that believes he is only cleverly staging things.
3) Shito's past catches up with him and a breech forms between himself and Chika (and Michiru). Because of this he is kidnapped by a wannabe Dr. Frankenstein and bad things start to happen.

Surprisingly there is a lot of character development in the series. The development is slow however and subtle, often sneaking up. Chika's defense of Michiru when Shito is too harsh with her or Michiru standing up for herself when her friends ask too much of her. There's a lot of violence in this, but its not gorey but almost campy. Arms being chopped off, that sort of thing.

Peach-Pit's artwork kind of takes a little to get used to though. Its almost Shoujo-like with the big eyes and pretty males, but with harder lines and more attention to detail when discerning between people.

All in all Zombie Loan is a fun slightly different manga. There's no real 'romance' involved, though there is affection (its more like Fruits Basket when it first began, with no clear relationship lines drawn yet between Yuki-Tohru-Kyo) and of course shippers everywhere have their preferences.