Manga Review: King of Eden Volume One

King of Eden Volume One sets the stage for a mystery with horror overtones.

King of Eden Volume One
Written by: Takashi Nagasaki
Publisher: Haksan Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: September 22, 2020

After reading Junji Ito’s Venus in the Blind Spot recently, I have opened myself up to the idea of reading more manga in the horror genre. I was given the opportunity to read and review King of Eden, and I decided to give this title a try. But I will warn you, this volume has roughly 400 pages, so there’s a lot of read and take in.

It’s established early on that across the globe, there are entire villages going up in flames and everyone perishing. The same man is seen standing nearby at every incident. Meanwhile, there’s a rumor going around about a highly contagious disease where those infected by it fly into a blind rage, attacking and killing everything crosses their path.

Of course, these mysterious incidents garner the attention from various agencies around the world, with some of them launching investigations. From what is revealed early on, it appears that the virus and the burning villages are tied together, and that the disease is some kind of biological warfare. I have to admit that, to some extent, I have a very different outlook for a storyline like this now that we’re living in the age of COVID-19. At least it’s emphasized in the volume that the spread of the virus in this story is not a pandemic.

The first chapter establishes the horror that is prevalent in this manga. The fact that the first chapter is completely in color helps to emphasize the blood and gore. It also introduces the virus and its effects, as well as the mysterious man seen near the fires. There’s a lot of exposition, but it’s needed in order to establish the story. This chapter also establishes the fact that this mysterious virus (nicknamed “Wolf”) is being utilized as a bioweapon in order to take down capitalist countries. The virus turns its victims into horrific creatures with properties that are almost like a werewolf, hence the nickname.

Also introduced in the story is an archaeologist named Rua Itsuki. It turns out she and the mysterious man (who we learn is named Teze Yoo) were classmates when they were younger, and representatives from three organizations come to her to ask for her assistance. Her knowing Teze, as well as her knowledge of archaeology, are the reasons why she was sought out. She agrees to help them track Teze down, and along the way, she discovers various clues about him as well as the virus itself.

What really grabbed me during this volume, especially around the time that Rua is introduced, is how much ancient world history is shared in this volume. In a lot of ways, I almost felt like I learned more about these ancient cultures in this volume than I did in my history classes when I was in school. It was also fascinating to see the story of Cain and Abel referenced early on this volume as well. This information was important to establish the elements of the mystery, but I also found this history to be fascinating on its own.

One thing I should warn potential readers of, though, is how many locations you jump through over the course of this volume. With the jumps in locations, there are also introductions of other characters. Some of these characters are rather important to the story, although I found myself having trouble keeping some of them straight due to how many pages this volume is.

As I read this volume, I found myself wanting to continue as more pieces of information were revealed. It was satisfying to see how everything came together, and how it really felt like the story was going to resolve itself at the end. Which confused me a little, since I knew this was the first volume of the series. But right near the end, it’s revealed that Teze didn’t find the right person that he’s been searching for… which explains why there’s more than one volume to this story. This volume was simply setting the stage for the next portion of the story, which seems to establish that Rua and some of the other characters will be accompanying Teze as he tries to locate the person he’s looking for.

The art in this volume was rather striking, and it’s obvious a lot of effort went into the drawings for the creatures that resulted from people being infected with the virus. The artist went to a lot of effort to highlight the horror of the story, and the art in the first chapter perfectly established that this story is in the horror genre.

I would recommend King of Eden Volume One to readers who enjoy the horror genre. I would also recommend this series to readers who are fans of Junji Ito and his works.

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