These dystopian worlds show that the Doomsday Preppers might not be all that crazy.
Cyberpunk has long been the realm of manly stories about people eking out a living in a post-apocalyptic world. Man, woman, child, doesn’t matter, you must be tough to survive in a dystopian world. Currently, the popular theme is the zombie or pandemic apocalypse angle, but a truly dystopian world doesn’t need zombies to be a crappy place to live. This month we examine two stories about pandemics that resulted in dystopian societies; one a shonen series with supernatural aspects and the other a seinen hardcore sci-fi survival series.
EDEN: It’s an Endless World! was written and drawn by Hiroki Endo. His art style is what readers would expect from a seinen genre manga; realistic character designs with highly detailed landscapes and surroundings. This art is almost a mixture of sci-fi and horror. Plenty of robots and cyborgs mixed with horrifically graphic battle scenes and bloodletting. A good series for fans of Akira to check out.
There aren’t many dystopian stories more manly and vivid than EDEN: It’s an Endless World! This series takes place in a world post-pandemic disease that killed much of the human population. Remaining is a nightmarish hellhole run by those with power, essentially military states. Considering the government in our current world holds most of the power over us, it makes sense that in some form it would maintain power. The government does have the biggest guns after all. But what additional group would benefit from life going to shit? Drug lords, they would be able to prey on the weakness of the survivors hoping to detach from their dystopian world whenever possible. These two powerhouses are exactly the way South America shapes itself after the pandemic. It is an interesting examination of what could happen if the bird flu mutates enough to make the Spanish flu that killed millions around the world after WWI look like sporadic cold outbreaks.
EDEN: It’s an Endless World! focuses on a young man in South America. Elijah, the son of two survivors of the pandemic, scrapes out a living among the ruins of mankind. Elijah’s father has become a ruthless drug lord with an incredible amount of power and influence in this new world order. In this depraved world, Elijah finds himself mixed up in graphic battles between the descendant organization of the United Nations, mercenary forces, and drug runners. Nearly immortal super soldiers, robots, full- and partial-body cyborgs, and humans struggle in a brutal world where it is every man and woman for themselves. Can Elijah avoid his estranged father while rescuing his mother and sister from those using them as pawns against his father?
EDEN: It’s an Endless World! is a psychological examination of mankind’s basic needs to survive and our darker side when pushed into a corner. Food, shelter, power, and sex; these basic needs can push nearly anyone to do things we would like to deny we had the stomach for. EDEN: It’s an Endless World! is truly a complex and oftentimes disturbing series.
Alive: The Final Evolution
By: Tadashi Kawashima (story); Adachitoka (art)
Publisher: Del Rey / Kodansha
Number of Volumes: 1-8 released by Del Rey in U.S. and 9-ongoing by Kodansha Comics USA (21 Complete in Japan)
The FandomPost Review: Alive: The Final Evolution Vol.#01 Manga Review
Whereas EDEN: It’s an Endless World! keeps with the sci-fi tech side of things with robots and cyborgs, Alive: The Final Evolution jumps into its dystopian future world with supernatural powers. Because of Alive’s shonen audience, it doesn’t have the same graphic situations and art as the usual seinen manga in this column. However, it makes access to a manly dystopian world easier to stomach for those that don’t like the graphic horror depictions of EDEN: It’s an Endless World!.
Alive: The Final Evolution starts off with a bang in the unbelievable event of mass-suicide across the planet. This epidemic initially appears to be the result of a new and unknown virus. It leaves the world’s authorities spinning their wheels with no hope in sight. However, the suicide virus is actually the result of an invading alien life form. For those that accept the alien invader, they commit suicide with a smile on their face. For those humans that resist the invader, they gain ESP-like powers from sharing their bodies with the alien entity.
Taisuke is a young man when the world is gripped in Nightmare Week. Afterward, he struggles with his relationships with both his best friends Yuta and Megumi. Both survive the initial suicide week, but Yuta takes advantage of his powers to kidnap Megumi in hopes of making her his lover. Yuta quickly accepts the world and kills people without a thought. Taisuke is the complete opposite and struggles with surviving while keeping his morals. To that end, Taisuke strikes out on his own to track down Yuta and talk some sense into him. The problem with that is Yuta has teamed up with other survivors lacking any morals and they make it a priority to kill Taisuke.
While these stories differ in the age of the audiences they are aimed at, they are both the products of a horrible potential future resulting from a pandemic disease that shatters society. Where Alive: The Final Evolution begins at the onset of the pandemic and the quick changes immediately after, EDEN: It’s an Endless World! mostly examines the state of the world years and decades after the pandemic. It makes for an interesting contrast between the two series.
Both series show the desperateness that life would take on. Alive: The Final Evolution isn’t as hardcore graphic as EDEN: It’s an Endless World!, but it does deal with terrible and opposite parts of human nature; giving up and committing suicide and refusing to give up by resorting to doing anything to survive. Both series focus on how powerful the relationships within a family and between friends can become when push comes to shove and society breaks down. Because in a world where you can’t survive alone, there is no other companion more likely to support you than your family or best friend. Both series are recommended to readers looking to examine dystopian futures and the guts it takes to survive them.