Happiness vol. 1 by Shuzo Oshimi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
January 1, 2017 by Dennis Amith
Knowing how Shuzo Oshimi’s manga series tend to have surprises in store for readers, this first volume is merely a setup for big things to come. An enjoyable series thus far and I look forward to reading volume 2!
Image courtesy of © 2012 by ONE. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Happiness vol. 1
STORY AND ART BY: Shuzo Oshimi
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Kodansha Comics
RATED: M for Mature Audiences
Available on September 27, 2016
Nothing interesting in happening in Makoto Ozaki’s first year of high school. His life is a series of quiet humiliations: low-grade bullies, unreliable friends, and the constant frustration of his adolescent lust. But one night, a pale, thin girl knocks him to the ground in an alley and offers him a choice.
Now everything is different. Daylight is searingly bright. Food tastes awful. And worse than anything is the terrible, consuming thirst. The tiny shames of his old life have been replaced by two towering horrors: the truth of what will slake his awful craving, and high school itself.
From Shuzo Oshimi, the creator of “Drifting Net Cafe” and “The Flowers of Evil”) comes his latest manga series “Happiness”.
With a total of three graphic novels released in Japan since Feb. 2015, “Happiness” is a supernatural manga series that will surely entertain fans of vampire stories.
“Happiness” begins with a murder with a female vampire targeting a man walking out late at night in the Nakano Ward of Tokyo.
The story then shifts to Hokusei High School and features a year 1 student named Makoto Okazaki, a teenager who is often bullied and is forced to buy other students lunch with his own money.
The only person that sympathizes with him is Nunota, a teenager who was previously bullied and forced to buy others lunch.
That night, as Okazaki goes out at night to return a DVD, he is attacked by the female vampire but as his blood is sucked out of him, the female vampire gives him a choice, to die or to be like her. Okazaki chooses to live and not die.
When Okazaki awakes, he is in the hospital with his family. Seeing that he was attacked, as the lights are turned on, he can’t stand the light.
When he returns back to school, people have heard of his attack but one again, his bully Yuki try to cause problem when Okazaki tells them that the person that attacked him was a girl. Laughing hysterically, Yuki tells everyone that Okazaki’s attacker was a girl
Upset, Okazaki instinctively punches the bully and breaks his nose. With blood gushing from the bully’s nose, he notices that he can smell the scent of one’s blood and desperately wants to lick it.
Immediately, Yuki becomes the laughing stock at school as other bullies descend on him and Yuki becomes the person being bullied.
Meanwhile, Okazaki notices that he is starting to have problems as his body wants to lick blood and is starting to feel sick. Okazaki starts to wonder what is happening to him? And why is he so sick?
With a new manga series by Shuzo Oshimi, we have a vampire story about a teenager named Makoto Okazaki who is attacked at night and his blood sucked by a vampire and being given a choice…die or become a vampire.
Okazaki starts to go through withdrawals after his release from the hospital, trying to prevent his urges from getting the best of him but noticing a big change and others are starting to worry about him.
The first volume is pretty much a standard introductory story to the characters and series and while somewhat banal of a person who was normal but bitten by a vampire and turning into one, the first volume focuses on Okazaki’s struggle to contain his urges.
As Okazaki is often getting bullied, the story also focuses on how his bully (Yuki) becomes the person being bullied, after Okazaki, sick of being bullied, breaks Yuki’s nose. And now Yuki starts to become on the receiving end of feeling the brunt of being bullied by other bullies in school.
The other person introduced in the story is Yukiko Gosho, a blunt student who Okazaki slowly starts to get to know. As his body craves for her blood, it’s still to early to see where this friendship and potential relationship may go later in the series.
But for the most part, as a first volume and and an introduction-driven story of the characters, Shuzo Oshimi’s “Happiness” begins with the obvious, it’s success depends where the series takes off after this first volume and how it avoids the banal vampire storylines that have been created. But I have no doubt in my mind that Oshimi will take this series into a fascinating direction.
The artwork by Oshimi is well-done and the series does have violence and also a sexual scene, thus giving the series its mature rating.
But knowing how Shuzo Oshimi’s manga series tend to have surprises in store for readers, this first volume is merely a setup for big things to come. An enjoyable series thus far and I look forward to reading volume 2!
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