Hello everyone to another TAY Explores where we'll be exploring some spooky mangas. Wait it's not October any more… crud. Well to get you in the mood, to youtube and look up spooky scary skeletons or something. That should help…
In any case, have you ever wondered what would happen to you if the apocalypse happened? Would you survive and live to see what will become of the human race or would you end up as a mere statistic of all the lives lost to the apocalypse? If you did survive, who do you think you'll be? Will you be the leader of all the other survivors? Will you be the muscle that will get the group though any crisis? Will you have the strength to become a hero? All these questions and more are raised in the manga, I am a Hero.
*Warning, this manga features a lot of graphic content. There is a lot of body horror and gore within this series. Those whom are sensitive to this be warned.*
I am a Hero follows Hideo Suzuki, a 35 year old mangaka assistant who is trying get back to create his own mangas, while balancing having a girl friend and having to deal with his own nightmarish delusions. Hideo's life is relatively simple until the zombie apocalypse occurs. Soon, everything Hideo has known has been turned upside down and he must fight to survive the infected masses while battling his own delusions.
The Meaning of a Hero
The title of the manga is not just there for show because the manga explores what a hero is in the literal sense and fictional sense. Our hero, Hideo, is a very odd hero in that he believes that he is merely a side character as supported by his place in society before the apocalypse. Hideo is a mangaka assistant for a living, he has a stable relationship with his girlfriend who tends to treats him like a child, and he has his own quirk of suffering from delusions from time to time. Together these elements show that Hideo has virtually no agency in his own life yet he still tells himself that he is a hero. This is quite interesting because it brings up the issue of whether or not Hideo actually a hero. In a fictional sense, Hideo is the hero of the manga since the manga is written from his viewpoint, but on the other hand he has virtually no agency in his life making him seem more like a side character narrative wise. This disjunction between being the hero of the manga and the hero of the narrative is a great set up for when the zombie apocalypse occurs because it allows the manga to show the reader what qualities it takes to be a hero.
Once, the zombie apocalypse finally comes, Hideo is forcefully shoved into a hero's position because he happened to have his shot gun on him at the time since he needed to renew his gun permit the day of the apocalypse. Unfortunately, Hideo doesn't have the mindset to be a hero and so he often opts to run away from the zombie despite having a gun. Even when Hideo is forced into a situation where he can become a hero, he doesn't because he lacks what it takes to be a hero. In a sense, I am a Hero discusses what a hero is by placing Hideo in situations where he can become a hero, but doesn't.
I am a Hero is manga about a zombie apocalypse, but it chooses to show the reader what the world was like before the outbreak, which showed the reader how a zombie apocalypse could affect a person on a personal level. The first few chapters of this manga are spent showing the reader what Hideo's life is like and how he feels about his current life. The reader is shown how his girlfriend babies him and how he's dissatisfied with his current status. So when the zombie apocalypse occurs, the reader can feel why Hideo is feeling the way he is when he has to fight against his zombified acquaintances.
It goes without saying that the art in this manga is simply fantastic. Whether it be a normal street at night or an abandoned street strewn with debris, every place in this manga looks amazing. It's like the mangaka wanted to have real places in his manga and instead of just taking a picture of the area, he just drew the place instead. The characters look incredibly life like as well because they are able to express a wide range of emotions. I can't tell you how dynamic Hideo's face is because he has a huge variety of different facial expressions. This emotiveness isn't exclusive to Hideo either. Many side characters and minor characters are able to emote just as well as Hideo. Also, the zombies, they are just so well drawn that many of them are painful to look at. The zombies are just so horrifyingly disgusting that it's terrifying to think of them moving about in real life. I am a Hero's art is simply fantastic as it's able to convey what the contents of the manga might look like in real life.
I am a Hero is a zombie apocalypse through and through, but it has some interesting quirks to it that makes it stand out. For starters, I am a Hero has an interesting take on NEETs (slang for people who aren't in education or any sort of training) in society. Essentially, people who rejected current society live through its destruction and are possibly able to become a hero. Of course many of these NEETs eventually succumb the zombies, but it's interesting to see which NEETs do survive because it works with the message the manga is focusing on.
The zombies in the manga are also quite interesting because they have mechanics associated with them. A major point about these zombies is that they retain some parts of themselves before they were zombified, which is fairly interesting because it diversifies what actions the zombies can take. So there are times were the zombies will do other actions besides attack humans. Like how a zombie woman will move to protect her zombified baby if the zombified baby is attacked. Having these mechanics make the zombies feel unique because they have some logic behind their actions.
I am a Hero is a manga that I had a blast reading. The narrative and the message that permeated kept me invested in the series because it challenged me to think about a question that I could apply to myself. The gorgeous art and the well-constructed narrative worked incredibly well off each other as they reinforced the horror of each event in the manga. The characters were extremely easy to get invested in as we get to see how they struggle to survive physically and morally and you just want these characters to survive and be happy. The only fault I can find with this manga is that it play the zombie apocalypse story straight, but this is only a minor problem with a great work of art.
All images were taken from mangahere.co. I do not own any of these images.
You can read I am a Hero here.
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