Original Story: Shiden Kanzaki
Character Design: Saki Ukai
Translation: Nita Lieu
Lettering: Abigail Blackman
What They Say:
After being invaded by viral parasites known as Gastrea, the people of Japan have had no choice but to encase themselves within colossal monoliths designed to repel the beasts. The Gastrea, however, have still managed to slowly trickle through the barrier and infect some of the population. In order to fend them off, humanity has created a “Civil Security” branch trained in the extermination of the parasites. Rentarou Satomi and Enju Aihara are just two of many Civ-Sec officers fighting to keep humanity safe and fix what has become of their world once and for all.
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Our story begins with our protagonist, Rentarou Satomi, answering a call concerning a possible Gastrea after a man from a local apartment complex sighted blood dripping from his ceiling. Upon arrival, Rentarou and the local police force encounter a masked man who winds up adding to this already important Gastrea problem. It quickly becomes even more of a problem after the police attack him and lose several of their men as a result. Then it becomes EVEN MORE of a problem when that man claims that he is going to destroy the world (As if it wasn’t destroyed enough already). After a quick, one-sided battle in his favor, the masked man slips away, leaving Rentarou and the police to look for the victim who has somehow managed to live long enough to wander the streets. Unfortunately, by the time they reach him, he has morphed into a Gastrea and no longer possesses any shred of humanity. The battle moves in the Gastrea’s favor until Rentarou’s partner, Enju Aihara, shows up and completely annihilates it.
Soon after the beast’s annihilation, the book shifts right back to the beginning and we get to see the entire first chapter again from Enju’s perspective. Apparently, she was fortunate enough to run into the victim before the Gastrea’s infection fully took over, giving him a short time to leave her with a message to deliver to his family. That message, of course, being the ever-cliche, yet still impactful, “I’m sorry.” Once the battle concludes (Again), we get a glimpse of the entertainingly explosive relationship that Rentarou and Enjou possess before the two of them hang up the serious plot stuff and go grocery shopping.
Things get a little more difficult for Rentarou (Who takes back possession of the story’s perspective) when he gets back to the office and is unhappily greeted by his boss/childhood friend, the fiery and intuitive Kisara Tendou. Turns out, Rentarou is the only employee Kisara has, which has created quite an issue as far as success rate and finance goes. After another argument spanning several pages, it is revealed that Kisara is sick and has to spend the rest of the day attending a doctor’s appointment. This, being the perfect chance for some exposition, allows Rentarou to head down to the hospital and converse with Kisara’s doctor about not only her problems but how the Gastrea virus works. The most useful bit of information the doc spills, however, is the story behind the “Cursed children” which our secondary protagonist, Enjou, falls into. Children born during the time of the first few Gastrea sightings were somehow imbued with some of the DNA of Gastrea, ultimately resulting in them gaining superhuman strength. The downside to this is that the growth of the cursed children is impeded, resulting in them having a hard time fitting in. Most wind up just hiding their abilities in an attempt to assimilate with the rest of society.
Things move forward when Kisara receives a call from the ministry of defense, possibly pertaining to the Spider-Gastrea that no one has seemed to locate yet. After she yanks Rentarou out of class, the two of them head down to the ministry to join basically every rival Civ-Sec company out there for a meeting that no one really knows anything about at this point.
The first volume of Black Bullet utilizes most of its time for character introduction and exposition. There is plenty of backstory to be picked up over the first few chapters, but the way it is presented seems slightly unnatural and out of place. It wasn’t unnerving and it didn’t ruin the overall feel of the manga, but you could tell that the writer was essentially saying, “This is the part where you will learn about what is happening,” instead of slowly revealing information and building up the story. However, the upside to this is that we quickly understand what everything is and why it is happening. It just doesn’t leave enough to the imagination. Overall, I’d say this was a pretty decent first issue in most aspects. The artwork was enjoyable (Though the action sequences were a bit hard to follow), character design was fun and creative, and the pacing itself was actually pretty solid. On the downside, the ending of the volume was nothing short of a forced cliffhanger and could have been done a bit better.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015