“Who, What, When, Where, Why”- King Of Thorn (manga) – 10/10 Flowers

Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope. ~Anonymous

Genre: Action/Horror/Sci-fi /Psychological

Review Status: Complete (6 Volumes/6 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US. However, as Tokyopop is the licensor, its future status is undetermined.

Art: Crisp, clear, reminiscent of FMA in the angular facial and character designs. Plays heavily with light and shadow, with heavy shading.

Summary: Two twins, separated by fatal illness and a selective cure. Kasumi and her sister, Shizuku, were infected with the Medusa virus, which slowly turns the victim to stone. There is no cure, but of the two only Kasumi is selected to go into a sort of cryogenically frozen state along with 159 others until a cure is found. At some point in the undetermined future, Kasumi awakens to find herself and others who were in suspended animation in an unfamiliar world with violent monsters. Resolving to unlock the mysteries of her current situation and the fate of her twin sister, Kasumi struggles to survive in a treacherous world. (Tokyopop)

Review: What do you do when the world you know is gone? When Kasumi awakens from her sleep, she discovers that they haven’t awakened in a world with a cure for the Medusa virus- oh, no. They are in a world that’s who-knows-how-many years into the future, where nightmarish monsters roam the halls of a crumbling castle that they were encapsulated in, thorns grow everywhere they look, and the virus still spreads through their veins.

This manga wastes no time getting to the meat of the story. With everyone in a panic to discover what has happened, most end up getting killed off the bat, leaving us with our band of heroes: six people from all walks of life, that must now discover what happened and why the world is like what it is.

This manga is full of heart-pounding action and twists that are startling. To discover the answers, they travel all over the castle, to various labs and stations. They must face giant salamanders that spark electricity, a frog-monster that spits acid and hallucinogens, creatures like dinosaurs, and human defense systems that have managed to stay running. Along the way they discover things about each other and themselves. Marcus isn’t all he appears to be. Kasumi and her twin have a backstory that might be key to all the things that are happening. Tim and Katherine, a boy who was chosen but not his mother, and a mother that lost her child and regrets it deeply, find inner strength and courage as they face the trials that the castle holds. The other two, Ron and Peter, have the character development of minor characters, yet still manage to play decently important parts. Then you have the mysterious girl and an equally dangerous opponent.

They all are sympathetic to a degree, and seeing what they went through, how they became who they are and why they are behaving the way they are, is absolutely fascinating. It was nice to see solid character development alongside the main storyline.

Not everything is as it appears to be in this manga, and seeing all the plot threads come together is simply fantastic. The virus itself is more than what they originally thought, and becomes a key element in the story itself at a certain point. There is very little in this manga that goes unanswered- the story is tightly-written, the characters interesting and believable, the art clear and the action scenes done well. You can’t ask for more in this type of story, especially when it manages to put so much into so few volumes.

Overall, this is a great post-apocalyptic action story.

Recommended: 16+. This has the worst of FMA-level violence, all the time. People are shown dying- this usually involves limbs flying. There is very little actual gore- it’s mostly blood-spatter shown, even for the worst of wounds (including the aftermath of someone who committed suicide with a bullet through the mouth). This manga isn’t afraid to show bodies, though they are not fresh and, indeed, look more like mummies than anything. You do see a character attempt suicide, though her twin sister stops her in time. And in one scene, you do realize that a character committed suicide (again, gore-less but there is blood spatter).

Fanservice is incredibly low- the one sure instance of it is in an extras page in the back where the author says that it’s hard to draw nice boobs and prefers butts. A few instances where you get full-on cleavage is after a character transforms using the Medusa. However, this is about as fanservice-y as any classical painting. She has been acting as a mother to a young boy the entire time, nearly sacrificed herself for him once, and when she transforms it’s clear that her cleavage isn’t for kicks- it’s symbolic of her motherly instincts towards him, which is born out when she nearly dies protecting the boy. Any other possible nudity (which is virtually nonexistent), is Barbie-doll, or covered up by water/shadow/what-have-you.

The language level is a little high. Though the majority swears are usually not thrown around casually, you do have about 8 f-bombs, 6 g—d—s, and a handful of other more minor swears. It usually levels out between 5-7 instances per volume, with each volume getting a little more intense with the language and more frequent.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Ergo Proxy (anime)
20th Century Boys (manga)
Full Metal Alchemist (anime, Brotherhood, or manga)
Bokurano (anime or manga)
King of Thorn (anime)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (anime)
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (anime)


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