Have I mentioned how glad I am that Dark Horse is publishing this series in a two-volumes-in-one omnibus format? Because I’m glad that Dark Horse is publishing this series in a two-volumes-in-one omnibus format. There’s no denying that this series works on a very slow burn, to the point where it feels like not a whole lot happens in its individual chapters. However, when you look at where this volume begins — with gun-wielding mangaka Hideo and schoolgirl Hiromi following survivors up Mt. Fuji — and where it ends — with our protagonists joining a community living on top of a strip mall — you can see that real progress has been made.
While some may feel that the pace of this series is way too slow, I think mangaka Kengo Hanazawa makes good use of the space afforded to him. Particularly in the many double-page spreads throughout this volume. There is a sense of indulgence to them, as they slow down the pace even more, but it’s generally used to great creepy effect. Whether it’s the reveal of just what is biting everyone’s ankles as they march up Mt. Fuji, or the multiple double-page-spreads which provide a frighteningly effective time-lapse of the disintegration of the social order of everyone going up the mountain, there’s always a point and a payoff when Hanazawa breaks these things out. He even manages it to comedic effect late in the volume with Hiromi’s response to a word chain game.
Hideo is still the focus of the series and this volume also shows that it’s going to be quite some time before he turns into an actual hero. If ever. It’s still fascinating to watch him try to survive within the context of his limited social skills. Even though he’s trying to be an upstanding citizen in the (misguided) assumption that things will return to normal, we still see him resort to some questionable moves here. Such as his manipulation of Hiromi in the volume’s latter half. Vol. 3 ends with some interesting developments regarding the introduction of a nurse who takes no crap and the possibility of a cure, which make me glad that I won’t have to wait another six months for vol. 4 (it’s out in July) to see what happens with them.