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God's Got Nothing to Do With It

January 3, 2010

     I happened to greatly like an anime called Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning, which involved a bunch of teenagers using logic and reasoning to outwit each other.  What isn’t cool about that?  So I tried the manga version, since the anime ended without ever explaining one of the biggest questions of the story.  In Spiral, the main protagonist, Narumi Ayumu, lives under the shadow of his disappeared brother, Narumi Kiyotaka, detective and genius extraordinaire.  He lives with his sister-in-law, Narumi Madoka, who hasn’t entirely gotten over the shock of her husband randomly disappearing.  Ayumu ends up getting involved in a series of incidents revolving around the mysterious Blade Children, a group of kids all with cat-like eyes and one rib missing.  Along with the aid of school journalist Yuizaki Hiyono, his bubbly “friend,” he investigates the Blade Children and ends up learning that they are following some sort of scenario that his missing brother has created for them.

     The anime covers Ayumu and Hiyono meeting all of the Blade Children but ends with a different version of his conflict with Kanone Hilbert, the last of the Blade Children.  The manga continues on to explain that the Blade Children are actually the children of Mizushiro Yaiba, a murderous super-genius who Kiyotaka killed in the past.  Yaiba’s blood lust and violent nature is destined to eventually awaken in his children, and Kiyotaka is manipulating Ayumu to free them from this eventuality.  This leads to the comparison of Kiyotaka to God and Yaiba to the Devil, and the same with Ayumu and Yaiba’s younger brother, Hizumi.  Unfortunately, this is where the manga falls apart.  The anime was fun because it never dealt with this issue.  First, there’s the ridiculousness of the Blade Children.  Realistically, how can you possibly believe that these kids will randomly snap at about twenty and turn violent just because their daddy did?  And now said kids have become mass murderers, “fighting to survive” against enemies that have no real reason to run after them other than an unfounded belief.  Isn’t everyone’s fear what’s turning them into monsters, not their blood?

     Second, there’s the ridiculousness of the God and Devil comparisons.  As almost any Christian will tell you, belief in God is all about faith.  What is this manga about?  Reason.  Faith and reason are two rather incongruous concepts.  The idea that all these characters can run around reasoning their way through things but believe that God created Yaiba and Kiyotaka is rather ludicrous.  It weakens the believability of the story and ultimately makes the manga less satisfying than the anime, which didn’t even have a definite end.  That’s not to say that the manga still isn’t good.  The personalities that made the anime good are still all present in the manga.  Takeuchi Rio is a delightfully creepy little genius girl, Asazuki Kousuke is still a crazy assassin with a soft spot for his best friend, Eyes Rutherford is still icily charismatic, and Hiyono is still cute and occasionally annoying (though that gets ruined by the last plot twist).  And Mizuno Eita’s art is rather good, if not particularly eye-catching.  But these strange revelations really hurt the manga.  It would have been so much better had Shirodara Kyou focused on the reasoning part and the characters themselves rather than outlandish, pseud0-religious concepts.

Plot: 5.6      Art: 8.0      Dialogue: 8.2      Overall: 7.5

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