Genre: Science Fiction Shonen
Year Release in English: 2013-2014
Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. Light spoilers ahead.
Content warnings: Gun shot wounds, bugs, oppressive government
In a utopian city without disease, suffering, or poverty, 12-year-old elite student Shion takes in 12-year-old Rat who’s just escaped from prison. This act of kindness makes him forfeit the privileges as a member of the upper echelons of society. Shion and his mother move to a lower district. Four years later, mysterious deaths occur around Shion, and Rat saves him from being captured by the government.
The world-building for this series is so intriguing. The city of No. 6 is every techno-utopian dream, but you just have a deep sense that what’s on the surface. There’s an intrigue and a grit implied in the brilliantly clean linework.
The chemistry between Shion and Rat is so good. Sunshine naïve boy meets hardened street urchin, and I cannot wait to see how their relationship further develops. Will Rat soften or will Shion toughen up? I cannot wait to find out.
Content warnings: Threats of gun violence, rats, oppressive government
We get some more about the world-building and the source of the mysterious bugs causing accelerated aging and death. We get glimpses into the lives of other denizens and citizens in and around No. 6. I’m hoping we get to see a bit of cities 1 through 5 because I am just captivated by this nonsense.
Rat starts taking care of Shion in the western block of No. 6 and their evolving chemistry makes me want to die. Shion is so soft and it’s such a wonderful contrast to Rat’s hard edges. If these two don’t smooch by manga’s end, I am going to riot.
Content warnings: Government oppression, kidnapping, dog bites, non-consensual medical experimentation
All that development of the chemistry between Nezumi and Shion delivers during a quiet scene while Shion tries to take care of Nezumi. That’s right, the boys kiss on page in this volume.
There is so much angst between them, and its development mirrors the horrors and tensions happening in No. 6. All is awful in paradise, especially if anyone gets a whiff of dissent. This volume is so stressful from that regards.
Though, I do enjoy that we get to see Shion’s softer in action. The relationship between him and Dog-catcher is sweet in its own way. Nezumi also has his edges when it comes to relationships, and I’m really curious to see if/how that evolves.
Content warnings: Government oppression, state violence, non-consensual medical experimentation, bug bites, anaphylaxis
Every year, there is an event known as the manhunt on the outskirts of No. 6. It’s really an excuse for government-sanctioned omnicide of those who live beyond the utopian hellscape.
Shion learns that Nezumi has been keeping from him that his childhood friend is kept . I love that it isn’t as simply as a miscommunication. There is enough time spent in the chapters to really get into both of their heads. Nezumi doesn’t want Shion getting himself killed. The angst continues to be beyond palpable.
With our boys captured and sent to the Correctional Facility, I have several fears for their fates. But really, I’m more worried about how they’re going to escape without killing each other.
Content warnings: Government oppression, prison, pile of corpses, vomitting
The manhunt arrives, and honestly, murder would have been the gentler thing. Everyone in the West Block is rounded up as criminals and sent to the Correctional Facility.
While this seems like a silver lining for Shion rescuing Safu, it gets so much worse. What’s really keeping me invested is how Nezumi seems to know his way around. Granted, he had broken out of the high-security prison when he was a child. The secrets are piling up and I cannot wait for them to break out.
Their experience in the prison with people being treated like literal refuse and dumped down a chute shook me to the point that I need to take a small break, but I am impressed with how this manga is maintaining its dark tone with this little glint of hope that is the gay relationship simmering in the background.