4 out of 5
Interestingly, amidst calamity – Nokkers once again attack Jananda, but in a frighteningly novel fashion, reanimating dead corpses – Yoshitoki Oima refinds their pacing and tonal balance, crafting more nuance, slow-build emotions.
The attack takes up the first half of this tankobon, bringing events with Hayase to a head. The action is quite grotesque at points, and painful – the effects of the Nokkers start to lean into body horror, and I’d say the manga gets a leg up on the anime in this bit, perhaps because we can dawdle on the visuals at our own leisure. But the helplessness of the situation – there are plenty of dead on the island for reanimation – is also quite palpable, despite events moving very quickly. Yoshitoki also revisits the seeming theme of To Your Eternity from a new perspective, giving it refreshed weight and impact: Fushi has to reevaluate the relative “value” of life and lives – what does it mean to kill someone who’s already dead? While this isn’t a new question for zombie-related media, the way its been brought about here, in a series rife with such thoughts, hits hard.
Some of the moralizing in the concluding moments of this arc, and right before the battle begins, are rather soft-balled – Tonari is perhaps a weak character overall, sort of short-hand to put a voice to some complex concepts – but this is all followed up by a punishingly effective exchange between Hayase and Fushi, which leads into a final section in which Fushi reunites with Pioran. This part of the collection is perfect: Fushi hasn’t had to experience the human condition as directly as he does here – not distracted by outside threats, not trying to figure out a new form – and, again, though the scenes only take place over a few panels and pages, they carry a lot of emotional heft.