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LIVES Volume 1

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

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LIVES Volume 1 by Masayuki Taguchi, from TokyoPop

Lives Volume 1

© Masayuki Taguchi / AKITA SHOTEN

The Bottom Line

When a meteor shower decimates the Kanto region of Japan, the survivors discover that their cities have been transformed into a savage world where humans have been transformed into blood-thirsty monsters, and the only law is kill or be killed.

From the artist who brought you Battle Royale comes another over-the-top action story that hopes that its unrelenting assault of violence, monsters, and panty shots will distract you from its threadbare plot and one-dimensional characters. It didn't do much for me, but I'm hardly its target audience. Let's just say if you're turned on by its cover, you'll enjoy LIVES.

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Pros

  • Lots of over-the-top action and bizarre monsters in the tradition of Go Nagai's Devil Man
  • Unabashedly created to tantalize adult male readers, and proud of it
  • Taguchi draws dynamic action scenes that are full of visceral, gut-churning violence

Cons

  • Taguchi never misses an opportunity to show an up-crotch shot of his female characters
  • Plot-to-panties ratio is slim at best
  • Extremely stylized artwork distorts human anatomy to distracting levels
  • Characters are predictably one-dimensional archetypes of familiar tropes

Description

  • Original Title: LIVES (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Masayuki Taguchi
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1427816672
  • Cover Price: $12.99 US / $16.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: M – Mature, Age 18+ for graphic violence and gore, nudity, brief sex scenes
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: February 2011
    Japan Publication Date: December 2006
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations
  • More Manga by Masayuki Taguchi:

Guide Review - LIVES Volume 1

Have you ever walked into a room and immediately realized that you aren't supposed to be there? If you're a guy, maybe you've walked into a nail salon or the midnight yaoi anime screening at a con. If you're a gal, maybe you've walked into the men's restroom, or ventured into a strip club. Kinda awkward, right? That's pretty much how I felt reading LIVES, a fanservice-filled, sci-fi/horror/action series from Masayuki Taguchi, the artist responsible for the Battle Royale manga.

I went into this knowing that this manga wasn't created for readers like me (i.e. female). From the busty woman in torn clothing and the saber-toothed demon on the cover to the scantily-clad pop idols who get their flesh seared off their bones from a meteor, LIVES told me exactly what to expect in the 190+ pages ahead: lots of boobs, blood, mayhem, and monsters. On that front, it pretty much delivered.

While I’m not the target demographic for this type of story, it's not as if I was pre-disposed to dislike LIVES. I enjoy over-the-top action (see Black Lagoon). I can appreciate violent, mind-blowing sci-fi (Dorohedoro and GANTZ). Heck, I can even stomach stories with cover-to-cover cheesecake (Video Girl Ai and GANTZ again). But as a reader once remarked to me, fanservice is kind of like chili peppers: A little bit can spice things up; too much can obscure the flavors of everything else, and be almost be painful to endure. With LIVES, Taguchi unscrewed the lid on the bottle of fanservice chili pepper and poured it into this action-packed but plot-deficient story.

In this first volume of LIVES, a meteor shower decimates the Kanto region of Japan, and turns it into a jungle world where humans are transformed into gruesome monsters. It doesn't matter if a person is inherently good or evil — no one is immune from the strange transformations, and the overwhelming bloodlust that comes with it.

Like most post-apocalyptic stories, LIVES spins a morality tale about human nature degenerating into a 'kill or be killed' mentality when the social order breaks down. To illustrate this point, Taguchi populates LIVES with a diverse cast: a pop singer, a high school teen and her food-crazy brother, a boy from a troubled home and a peace-loving martial artist. All of them see their past lives become irrelevant, and struggle to make sense of what's right and wrong in this savage new world.

This could have offered opportunities for thought-provoking sci-fi and intriguing interactions between these characters, ala Lost. Instead, Taguchi settles for giving his characters one-dimensional personalities and limited options for action: they generally fight, scream in terror, or in the case of the female characters, they flash their cleavage or panties from every conceivable angle. Ew.

If you don't expect much out of LIVES other than what its cover promises, you'll be entertained by this first volume. As for me, I don't think I'll be coming back for more, and maybe that's as it should be.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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