Direction: Left to Right
by: Tow Ubukata
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi, Shonen, Drama
Kazuki Makabe was never an ordinary boy; whatever the sport, he always dominated his peers. He never realized the reason for his superior athletic abilities—a calling that would be revealed only under the direst of circumstances. Based upon the anime, from the producers of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fafner-Dead Aggressor is the story of a group of children thrust into extraordinary circumstances under the threat of impending war, and the life and death decisions they must make when their talents are put to the test.
No character thoughts this time, mainly because for the most part the entire novel is taken from Kazuki’s perspective, and deals with his personality. So both this section and the character section would have over run together, so I’m just merging it for this post.
The one thing to remember about this novel is that you don’t have to have seen the anime. When Tow was commissioned to create this novel he was given everything and basically told to do whatever he wanted with the material. Usually this can be a bad thing, with the end product being an absolute pile of trash. This time however we got an excellent, but highly character driven novel.
Sadly, the fact that it spends so much time exploring Kazuki’s emotions means that it gets hardly anywhere, barely covering a few episodes. I wish (and still hope) that Tow will return and write more novels finishing off the series.
Another thing is that the characters have been changed slightly, some of them getting a darker personality, and some are missing completely. Frankly I prefer the novel characters over the anime ones, they’re more real in the novel.
I liked the way that Kazuki develops over the course of the volume, we get to see him coming to terms with the changes in his world, as well as having to learn to bear the pain of losing friends.
It’s a shame, but one of the bits I was looking forward to reading wasn’t really done very well, that was Shoko’s death and the consequences of it. The way the novel handles it is certainly a great way, but we don’t learn how she dies, only that she does. I was also hoping for more interaction between Koyo and Kazuki, but it doesn’t really come about. Though we do get to see Kazuki having a break down over it, which really does show his character off perfectly.
The other thing I found interesting was the changes in relationships, in the novel Kazuki and Soushi haven’t spoken in near five years. As a result their initial relationship is a bit strained, and we get to see them work their way through, overcoming the cause of their estrangement, yet always still a little awkward.
Kazuki gets introduced to death a lot sooner in the novel, which I think makes his changes and the way he reacts all the more potent and powerful.
The way things are revealed is a lot more sinister, and feels more secret agent style than the anime. Such as how the system knows where everyone is. This was used several times in the anime, but it was never really explored, where as in the novel it does.
Ultimately though it comes down to the character development of Kazuki. He’s a lot darker and unstable in the novel, he’s basically everything Shinji from Eva should have been.
One of the things I also noticed was that the ‘adults’ were hardly ever brought into it. It’s pretty much always just the kids. I found this rather interesting since the adults were the driving force in the anime, usually being the reason the kids fight (revenge, love, protection etc).
The novel is very description heavy though, which for some people will be a bit much. When I first read through it reminded me of Lord of the Rings, with how wordy and descriptive it got. Looking back on it again I find I actually appreciate that aspect. Understanding the emotions of those involved, and their reasons for doing things, is all laid out and explained making for a story that draws you in.
There are a few manga style images, as you would expect, which while aren’t anything special, do make for a nice addition. I did like the cover art, as well as the Kazuki x Soushi panel.
Released by Digital Manga Publishing I had high expectations, and I think over all they delivered. I don’t like the slightly smaller format, it doesn’t sit in the hand very comfortably. The cover is a good thickness and makes for a good protection, as well as a firm hold.
Editing wise I found a few spelling mistakes, all of which were missing letters from words (bee instead of been, wer instead of were), only minor issues though. They also left all of the honorific’s in place, which I think was a great, since the honorific’s the kids used to talk to each other were indicators of the way they feel towards each other. It changes the way I saw them
Note: Currently you can buy this off of Book Depository for £1.89, which is where I bought mine