Manga Review: I Am A Hero.
(AfroGamers.com) When it comes to manga, zombie stuff and martial arts are my go-to genres. At the moment, I haven’t found a series that mixes both but I did find a solid series. Kengo Hanagawa’s I Am A Hero delivers the goods on the survival end of zombie horror.
I Am A Hero
The series focuses on Hideo Suzuki, a mangaka working for a small publisher. He’s pretty much a shut in who talks to himself to deal with the world. When he’s not talking to himself, he talks to the team he works with in his upcoming series. See, Hideo had a cult hit years prior which was cut short two or three volumes in.
As expected, he has been depressed that he can’t get a break. To center himself he pursues shooting practice. Note that Japan has strict gun laws and Hideo adheres to those laws throughout the series.
It doesn’t help that his girlfriend, also a mangaka, continues to bring up her ex, Korori. Hideo resents Korori because he has had more success in manga. The running joke here is that both Hideo and Korori produced these series that publishers most likely wouldn’t greenlight.
After a blow up with his girlfriend over Korori, he goes to visit her only to find that she is different. He doesn’t process it immediately but she has become a zombie. From this point, Hideo slowly encounters other zombies and his adventure nears its start.
Where It Shines
The artwork gets a thumbs up from me. These character designs are solid though Hideo, in his 30s, appears to be younger at times. I chalk that up to the pace midway through I Am Hero where Hideo is doing a lot more. This guy has athleticism I didn’t know he had.
The writing for the most part was good. There was a questionable development—which I won’t spoil—that played a major part in the story in the third act. Hideo has a flawed hero works. While he adapts to his situation, he doesn’t become a hardened badass. He still has doubts, he doesn’t want to deal with loneliness, and questions if he is in fact a hero. As a matter of fact, he has to keep telling himself that he is a hero.
Then you have the other characters, some of which overshadow Hideo as an interesting character. Funny enough, Korori is one of them. Actually, the story picks up when we’re introduced to other groups of survivors. The side stories with characters who knew Hideo or are tied to him are also really well told.
Where It Fails
The first act of I Am A Hero moves at snail’s pace. I’m big on pacing and I get that Hanagawa wanted to establish the everyday life in Tokyo prelude to the apocalypse. However, this was really crawling and there were times where I wanted to just put it on hold and come back later. Towards the end of the first act the pace gets a kick in the rear and jogs forward. It’s something, I suppose.
Initially, I felt the ending for Hideo was a downer but it works given the kind of person he is. The build up to it paints him as a delusional hero which was my problem. Just the effort and agony he puts himself through for this to be his ending. It’s a mixed bag for me but I’m sure others will take to it.
In short, I Am A Hero is worth reading. It’s far from sucking as a series but it doesn’t hit it out of the park as a top 10 series. I will say that while it got a live action film, it could’ve done with an anime. Of course, the mentioned development would make it a hard sell to an animation studio and eventual distribution in the West.
RATING: 7 out of 10 (Recommended)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.