“The Good Life” – NG Life (manga) – 10/10 Apples

The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. ~Wendell Berry

Genre: Comedy/Romance/Spiritual/Drama/School/Gender-bender

Review Status: Complete (9 Volumes/9 Volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop- has yet to be relicensed

Art: Clean, distinctive, nicely detailed. Expressions are clear, as are actions, and the panel flow is very nice and easily followed.

Summary: Kedai Saeki is a high school student who remembers his past life in Pompeii, living as the Italian warrior Sirix… His friends around him are all also reincarnated- although they don’t quite remember things the way he does. Kedai’s wife from the past? She’s now a middle school boy- while his best male friend is now a cute girl?! Throw in a case of love at first sight, and you have a new look at romance- manga-style!

Review: The past affects us in more ways than we can ever realize. Sometimes we remember what it was that has changed us, sometimes we don’t. NG Life explores that theme in one of the most literal ways- by Kedai remembering his past life, while almost no one around him does. He clings to the memories where he had a wife who loved him, a friend that was the best, most loyal guy around, and where he abandoned those he loved the most to die as he did his duty to someone he deeply honored.

This is one of the funniest manga I’ve read in a while. There can’t be anything more awkward and uncomfortable than dealing with two genderswitched people that you adore! Sirix loved Serena back when she was a woman… but Kedai isn’t gay in the modern world! His mother used to be his younger sister, and his father was his most hated rival, which bugs him to no end. And though it’s rare, he isn’t the only one who retains his memories of the past.

NG Life isn’t only sunshine and awkward moments, though. Many of his friends don’t remember the past- and when another suddenly forgets her past memories, Kedai is desperate to know why. He carries deep guilt from the destruction of Pompeii. He had abandoned his wife for reasons that are slowly revealed through the story, and the circumstances are as tragic as they are unchangeable. The past weaves in and out of the present seamlessly, tying the people and incidents together in an incredible way.

This is a story about coming to terms with the past. Kedai must forgive himself for what happened, realize that he is no longer Sirix, and find peace with the life that he has. The way that this is told and brought about is slow, steady, unstoppable, and beautifully done. It’s one thing for others to forgive you- it’s another to forgive yourself. Nothing feels out of place, no strings left hanging. And that makes this a manga worth reading.

Overall, this is one of the most touching (and funny) manga I’ve ever read- check it out ASAP!

Recommended: 12+. I don’t remember any swearing. There’s no nudity, though when recalling the past-life of one of his friends one person only recalls big boobs (these are focused on perhaps twice, and no nudity in them). One guy is a bit of a playboy but is only shown flirting. There’s occasional cross-dressing (mostly to psych out Kedai).There is violence, which ranges from comedic exaggeration (a woman standing over Sirix with a whip) to the serious (his friend getting stabbed). Only the comedic is shown on the page. There is death.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Please Save My Earth (manga)

Yukari Zumu (manga)

Oyayubihime Infinity (manga)

Fruits Basket (manga)

Red River (manga)

½ Prince (manga)


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