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7 Billion Needles Volume 1

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7 Billion Needles Vol. 1

7 Billion Needles Vol. 1

© 2010 Nobuaki Tadano

The Bottom Line

Shy and anti-social Hikaru is content to spend her high school years wearing her headphones and shutting herself off from her classmates. But all that changes when an alien takes up residence in her body, gives her strange powers, and puts her in the middle of a manhunt of intergalactic proportions.

If you've read Parasyte, then a story about a high school student sharing a body with an alien to battle another blood-thirsty alien won't seem terribly new to you. That said, 7 Billion Needles is a solid and entertaining sci-fi/action read that's well worth a look.

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Pros

  • Solid, entertaining science fiction that moves along at a brisk pace.
  • Crisp and straightforward graphic storytelling makes it easy to follow the action.
  • Encourages shy/anti-social teens to open up and engage with the world around them.
  • Clever cover design offers a retro nod to sci-fi pulp novels of the past.

Cons

  • Relatively unimaginative character designs
  • Really? Do all Japanese schoolgirls look like siblings, just with different hairstyles?
  • Story seems content to explore familiar sci-fi themes rather than break new ground.

Description

  • Original Title: 70 Oku no Hari (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Nobuaki Tadano
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1934287873
  • Cover Price: $10.95 US / $12.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: Not rated, but suitable for OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for some graphic violence and gore
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: September 2010
    Japan Publication Date: November 2008
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations, 4 color pages

Guide Review - 7 Billion Needles Volume 1

Anti-social high schooler Hikaru spends most of her days tuning out the rest of the world by wearing her headphones. However much she tries to shut herself off from her classmates, Hikaru is in for a rude awakening of intergalactic proportions.

While on a school trip, Hikaru gets incinerated by what seems to be a falling meteor. In a blink of an eye, she finds herself back in school as if nothing has happened. But something has changed. Hikaru's body is now host to an alien being who tells her that she must work with him to stop a powerful and malevolent creature that could "destroy all life in the universe."

The premise of a high school student who shares a body with an alien, gains strange powers and fights a blood-thirsty rival alien should sound familiar to anyone who has read Parasyte. There are numerous parallels here to Hitoshi Iwaaki's sci-fi horror series — normal, everyday Japanese people and urban scenes juxtaposed with extreme, out-of-this-world violence, and using this situation as a platform to discuss human emotions, relationships, and heck, the meaning of life in general. This is a classic sci-fi premise. It's nothing new, but through 7 Billion Needles, Tadano conveys these ideas very effectively, and puts his own twist on it.

While Hikaru and her alien "co-habitant" Horizon don't have the same kind of humorous camaraderie that Shiniichi and Migi had in Parasyte, Horizon manages to do with Hikaru what her teachers and her aunt and uncle can't: he/it forces her to interact with other people. In the process, Hikaru is confronted with a choice she's not had to make in a long time: she must decide whether to stay in her shell alone, or care enough about her fellow human beings to want to save them from destruction.

There's a fair amount of gore here (dismembered limbs and charred flesh come to mind), but Tadano uses it judiciously. Rather than generating a relentless assault of visual violence (which some horror/action titles opt to do), Tadano occasionally inserts scenes of extreme action to jab the reader in the gut after building suspense amidst an otherwise "normal" day.

Tadano's character designs aren't very imaginative. (Really? Space dinosaurs? Is that the best you could come up with? ) He also doesn't make it easy to distinguish one character from another. (Although to be fair, maybe all Japanese schoolgirls do look similar enough to be siblings?) His drawing style is not outrageously original either, but his graphic storytelling style is clear and strong. His crisp linework and straightforward paneling allows readers to effortlessly follow the story — that's not always a given, especially in action-driven stories like this.

7 Billion Needles won't wow you with its originality, but it is a solid and entertaining sci-fi seinen manga read that's off to a good start. It's worth picking up and worth sticking around to see what'll happen next.

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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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