25 CommentsManga Driver / By Scamp /

Manga Driver – 7 Seeds

7Seeds_Vol02_Cover

Volumes: 25 (ongoing)

Shoujo and I don’t tend to get along very much. More specifically, high school shoujo romance and I don’t get along because those seem to be the only kinds of shoujo manga that are adapted into anime nowadays. The flitting between abusive relationships seen as totemo romanticuu, or blushy hand-holding gormless teenagers rubs me the wrong way. It’s a shame that anime does such a disservice to an entire subset of manga when it has a much wider variety of titles and genres on display.

Take 7 Seeds, a post-apocalyptic survivalist shoujo manga. What’s interesting about it is it still has a lot of the same stylings of your typical shoujo manga. For example, there’s the heart-skip panel where the layout of the pages are set with on big strip down the middle of flowers and hearts and sparkles and bubbles, which is supposed to represent the heart of the main character skipping a beat. In your usual shoujo high school romance manga, that scene is used when senpai noticed me~! In 7 Seeds it’s used when the protagonist has just noticed that senpai is being eaten by a giant man-eating plant.

Seven_Seeds_vol02_ch05_p018Seven_Seeds_vol01_ch04_p167When I say 7 Seeds is a post-apocalyptic manga, I don’t mean some pussy apocalypse. It’s not like Akira or Neon Genesis Evangelion where there was a little disaster but people are still going to school. I mean hellfire raining from the sky, land swallowed up by the oceans, entire human population eliminated. Humanity had seen the apocalypse coming, so they set up the 7 Seeds programme. 4 groups of healthy teenagers were placed into stasis across Japan, set to re-open when the planet became inhabitable again.

For a person like myself who has a big hard-on for apocalyptic landscapes, 7 Seeds is fantastic. There’s the requisite first discovery of the tattered remains of cities that have some truly powerful scenes. It can be the big sweeping shots of Tokyo being reclaimed by the land as the skyscrapers become overgrown, to some really simple little things like a subway car collapsing under the weight of someone simply leaning on it, crumpling as though it was made of seaweed from years of corroding and rust. They go a long way to establishing the setting and giving you a proper feel for the scale of the devastation and where the world is at now.

Seven_Seeds_vol08_ch45_p150-1

The planet’s ecosystem has been altered drastically and there’s lots of cool ideas brought in to make nature more volatile. Some of it is your standard angry ecosystem such as giant bugs that plants its eggs into your body, but then there’s more insidious versions too There’s creatures that collapsed in the desert and appeared dead, waiting for the monsoon season to arrive again, upon which they would all burst into life and terrorize the poor group that had set up camp in this calm valley. One of the characters accidentally awoke a monster by peeing on it, causing it to think the rainy season had arrived. Its connection to science is pretty loose, but it plays with these ideas of how the rapid evolution in the post-apocalypse could work in enough crazy unique ways that I don’t mind that they’re perhaps a bit silly.

I do have a bit of an issue with how they depict the characters’s state in this hostile world. Considering they spend an awful lot of time crashing through undergrowth and being hurled into the water, it’s surprising how intact a lot of their clothes are. The story seems to gloss over a lot of the general day-to-day details such as how they get food, how do their shoes stay intact through so much travelling, how are they able to transport the amount of gear they would need to survive from place to place, and a bunch of other details. Maybe they raided a surprisingly intact clothes store at some point and their bags are full of spare shoes and t-shirts. Or maybe the people who put these teenagers in stasis in the first place gave them the most resilient clothes humanity could develop. It seems like a strange complaint on my part, but given the manga spends so much time emphasising how inhospitable the planet has become, it pulls me out of the experience somewhat.

Seven_Seeds_vol09_ch49_p090_091

The story jumps between the groups within 7 Seeds that have been left on the planet, showing us the different group dynamics and how they each dealt with their situation. There’s also the occasional story that jumps to before the 7 Seeds were released and how humanity started to prepare for the coming apocalypse. You didn’t think humanity only had one plan, did you? The one involving the kids who were all jacked up on steroids and bred to be the best of the best was particularly memorable, especially the grim way the arc ended. I won’t spoil, but it’s one of those endings that makes you put your book down, breathe out deeply and then go outside and watch rabbits frolic for a while as you contemplate how lucky you are.

The most impressive feat of 7 Seeds is that, despite jumping from story to story, it manages to make each individual story compelling. Each one is meticulously planned out. Each character is noticeably different with personality and goals and fears that makes the group dynamics in each story fascinating. The focus on the manga is more on the broader picture of how we will face the apocalypse and how people react in these harrowing situations, but it never forgets that these people are humans. As much as I’ve got that hard-on for general post-apocalypse landscapes, the real meat here is in the people and how they react to the situation. The author is a truly fantastic storyteller.

Seven_Seeds_vol03_ch12_p130-131

It’s a fucking long manga by the way. There’s 25 volumes out at the moment and still ongoing, and with anything that long there’s bound to be some nitpicky problems. The art isn’t fantastic. Sometimes the squiggly way the lines are drawn means I can’t tell where one object begins and another ends, leaving me staring at a page for several seconds before I realise “oh right, she’s wrestling a mutant crocodile”. It’s also completely humourless, which might fit something this grim, but when a character is supposed to be the Funny Guy, it never comes across well. There is a way to work dark humour into a story like this, but the author never bothers. Maybe she’s aware she can’t do humour so simply never tries, which is probably for the best.

But these, and the earlier minor clothes problems, are but little flecks of dirt on an otherwise monumental achievement in storytelling and overall grimness. Now if only anime producers would adapt shoujo manga like this more often, rather than high school romance #5019 in which the most popular guy in school inexplicably falls in love with bland shy female lead because he is secretly a vampire walrus or whatever.

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25 Comments

  1. Gunslinger
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Wow another manga to try out. I’ve been really enjoying your manga driver series so hope to see more reviews. You should also checkout Dorohedoro, it seems right up your alley.

    Also its a pity that you don’t have a ps3 but it looks like you would really enjoy The Last of Us. Which reminds you should also start doing a game driver series too.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Dorohedoro is certainly on The List, but I think I might try the Ghost in the Shell manga first.

      I’ve considered doing game posts before, and sometimes buckled in the case of Mass Effect. But while manga is at least relevant to anime, I can’t even think of the flimsiest of justifications to post about Binding of Isaac or FTL. But hey, if there’s enough interest, I would at least post my Top 10 Games You Should Play on Steam or something like that.

      • leokiko
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Read Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer.

      • Scamp
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        I did.

        It’s shit

  2. IKnight
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Yumi Tamura is also responsible for Basara, and is therefore the best.

  3. Lirael
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    About the clothes thing: theres’ a chapter where a team that woke up 3 years earlier comments on how nice the clothes on a person that recently woke up were, and judging by their state of dress, it’s safe to assume clothes don’t remain intact after all they go through. Probably what they wear is more resistant than usual, made specially for them.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Specially resistant hoody! You would think that at least they’d wear less baggy clothes so it wouldn’t get snagged on branches

  4. arcanes
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Sounds like an interesting read, but I like to complete stuff that I do, and another long running manga to add to my read list is kinda of off putting to me. So I will return with my feedback in 2020 lol.

    /Rant on – And what doesn’t help at all is that nowadays when I try to read a manga, I’m finding myself skipping panels to rush and find out what happens next, and when I realize it I just give up and stop reading at all. Maybe I’m just sitting next to the computer too much and I need to buy a Kindle or something. Rant off/

    Scamp, Top ten games is a go. And all time favorites too.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      You just need to learn how to read manga better. Maybe just reading ongoing stuff will force you to go slower?

      • arcanes
        Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

        That’s basically what I’m doing right now. But I went from 15 series to 10 to now only 5 or so. Anime I can watch pretty easily, but with a manga it’s hard for me to concentrate. I guess I’m officially an old fart :)

  5. Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Scamp, write about games. Go to hell with this “oh no FTL is not animu enough” mindset, your blog is not writing you, it is you who is writing your blog. A non-animu post once in a while won’t kill anyone and if someone complains, then send them away to mate with themselves.
    And on a subject of the text I am commenting, I won’t read something so long and without an end, waiting for new chapters is awful. But I will wait until it finishes and then marathon it :)

    • Gunslinger
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Amen we wants moar gamess

    • Stef
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      What the hell, why not? Go for it Scamp! Or don’t, I’m not your boss.

    • Daaaaaan
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      *cough* Planescape Torment *cough* Fallout New Vegas *cough*

  6. Ciiker
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Someone finally wrote a review about this underrated manga gem. So happy to see more people appreciating this kind of shoujo.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      The good kind of shoujo. You know it’s good because they wrestle crocodiles

  7. hint
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Crap…i only wanted to give a try and now i cant stop.

  8. hint
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    So fat its great, its one of those that sucks you in.
    Read Dragon Head where the real thing happens in front of the characters eyes. Not sure if you will like it as much as 7 Seeds but if you want to see the aftermath of something recent, ongoing while everything crumbles before their eyes… read it.

  9. gw_kimmy
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    ahh! this has been on my MU wishlist since forever ago. it’s really the length that intimidates me; it’s been awhile since i’ve completed a series that long @_@ i’ll definitely read it eventually. save if for jury duty when i have a phone with better battery life.

    hurray for non-high school shoujos! …i have no others to recommend that i think you might enjoy ;_;

    • Scamp
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Is she really the only person doing shoujo manga of this style? Considering how big her manga are, I’m surprised to hear that

      • gw_kimmy
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

        well, there are definitely other shoujo manga out there with different themes then the old beaten high school blah shoujo romance like historical struggles for a throne or dark horror-esque stories, but there’s none that i can think of at the moment that you personally might enjoy. after princess tutu i dont wanna recommend anything anymore lol.

        the only ones i can think of that really deviate from normal shoujo are kaori yuki’s works (you know, angel sanctuary and the like). also please save my earth, but you already tried the anime and didnt like it ;/

      • Leah
        Posted August 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Well, there’s CLAMP’s Tokyo Babylon and X1999… but X1999 is on eternal hiatus because CLAMP won’t get their shit together and give it a proper ending.
        Also, not a shoujo, but girly: you should really check out Gakkou Gurashi.

    • stushi
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Please Save My Earth is a pretty good manga, too. Although it starts off slow, after a while you can’t stop reading it.
      The ending kinda pissed me off, though.

      • Guratan
        Posted February 26, 2014 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        Stushi, thanks for mentioning that. Please Save My Earth was good. It was grand, meaningful and bullshitless. I don’t like the author’s recent works but PSME should be considered a super-elegent classic masterpiece.

  10. Owl
    Posted August 19, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    I just finished reading how Summer Group A came about, and oh my God that was depressing. I am hooked and I can’t wait to read more. Thank you so much for this review.

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