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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

The zombie apocalypse has never been more surreal! A mentally unhinged manga artist witnesses the beginning of a zombie outbreak in Tokyo, and he's certain of only two things: he's destined to be the city's hero, and he possesses something very rare in Japan--an actual firearm! Kengo Hanazawa's award-winning series comes to Dark Horse, and this realistically-drawn international bestseller takes us from initial small battles for survival to a huge, body-horror epidemic that threatens all of humanity! These special omnibus volumes will collect two of the original Japanese books into each Dark Horse edition and include all of the color pages. "Probably the greatest zombie manga ever." --Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide)…

I Am A Hero Omnibus Volume 1

by Kengo Hanazawa

Overall Book Review:

I Am A Hero is a zombie apocalypse story envisioned and told in manga style. This unique cultural perspective sets it apart from the many other zombie novels on the bookshelves today. The story is told from the point of view of a manga writer, which means that the author has a connection to the protagonist that makes the satirical depiction of his mundane darkly, humorously believable. The novel provides an insight into the industry of comics and the struggles that writers face in a very tongue-in-cheek, lighthearted way.

This book takes a while to build up to the action, and some readers looking for a fast-paced story with plenty of gore, zombie-slaying, and adventure may find they are disappointed as far as the pace. The story has plenty of gore, zombie-slaying, and adventure, but it is nestled inside a study of the protagonist and his business and social associates. This graphic novel has some extremely memorable and, in some places, disturbing situations and illustrations, but the exploration of the protagonists very human, very ordinary side serves to provide a depth to the story that takes the narrative beyond the simple gorefests that it could otherwise be. This story is a good read for anyone who is a zombie aficionado or a horror manga otaku.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 18 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 9 derogatory names; 16 scatological terms; 25 anatomical terms; 23 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  A few verbal threats; report of deaths in a fire; a few reports of people biting each other; report of a car accident with injuries; characters find blood on furniture; a few reports of shootings; report of rioting and property damage; a room has many bloodstains after violence occurs there; gunfire and explosions are heard and seen in the distance; advertisements for other titles in the back of the book mention serial killings and mutilation;characters bite each other a few times; a fight scene in which characters pummel each other with blunt objects, bite each other, and a character’s teeth are knocked out; a character is stabbed in the chest; a creepy illustration of a walking, contorted corpse; a character listens as others are attacked a few times; a few instances of a character attacking and biting a child; a few characters are hit by vehicles (illustrated sometimes); a character is attacked by a mob of monsters, and death is implied but not shown; a plane crash; a few characters fall to death on the pavement, sometimes taking others with them;a few illustrations of character’s bodies is twisted at grotesque angles; illustration of a dead body with bloody wounds; a man’s privates are bitten off (blood is shown on his crotch, but actual biting is not illustrated); illustration of a character beaten and stabbed; fight in which a monster is stabbed, beaten, has items shoved painfully down its throat, and is burned to death; a character’s body is grossly bloated with decay (this is shown in a few illustrations); a hand with bloody stumps for fingers is pictured; a character’s lower body is crushed under a vehicle; a character bites another’s fingers off; a character is eaten alive and decapitated; a bloody zombie is illustrated.

Sex/Nudity:  Characters hug; characters kiss a few times; a woman pats a man’s backside; characters flirt verbally; characters hold hands and snuggle; a character is illustrated with his pants down on toilet, but privates are obscured by the angle; characters are naked because they were not dressed when an emergency happened (not sexual); a character is naked, and part of their buttocks is illustrated (non-sexual context); a woman runs down the street in her bra and panties (this is illustrated); a character’s backside is partially revealed due to pants coming down accidentally (this is illustrated);a few discussions about a man finding female news anchors attractive or wanting to sleep with one; a character wears cleavage-revealing clothes and makes a brief joke using the word “boob”; a program on TV has the word “boob” in the title, and this is mentioned a few times; someone is called a “virgin” as an insult; the title of a book includes the word “penis”, and it is mentioned a few times; a character jokes about groping fellow mass-transit riders; a character is invited to a singles mixer with the implication that hooking up will take place; a man asks a woman about her sex life a few times; mention of a woman’s period; word “nympho” used to describe a woman; a few conversations where characters discuss wanting to get famous in order to get sex; mention of a “three-way”; a man stares at a woman’s chest; character mentions being a virgin; afterword contains a discussion of an art method used to blur genitals in comic books; characters touch tongues instead of kissing; a male character asks his girlfriend for sex; a few reports of characters having sex at their place of employment; characters have hickeys; a man and a woman make a wager with the stakes being if the man wins, they will have sex; a man and a woman have sex, but the act is not actually illustrated; a few discussions of characters having extramarital affairs; mention of erotic literature; discussion of art featuring a woman’s genitals; mention of a character being “turned on” by erotic art; a woman offers to show her breasts to a man, and it is implied that she does so (but not shown): a character is illustrated peeing on someone (no genitals shown); portion of a woman’s buttocks is exposed as she removes her pants; characters discuss whether or not to have sex while a woman is on her monthly period; characters discuss masturbation a few times; mention of “fingering” a girl; characters discuss going to clubs to have sex and having sex with their fans; a character sings a song about women’s genitals; a man talks to a woman about her private parts; a character mentions eating penises; a woman performs oral sex on a man, and it is illustrated in such a way that the reader can see his reactions but not the act itself.

Mature Subject Matter:

Gender discrimination; women are heavily objectified by some characters; verbal/emotional domestic abuse; death (loved one).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol; adults smoke cigarettes; a character begs for liquor; afterword contains a description of the Japanese “beer voucher” system used in retail liquor stores.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My taste in literature leans heavily towards sci-fi, fantasy, and (my favorite) horror, and the latter can present some fairly murky waters for parents to let their children explore. I enjoy novels of both the standard and graphic varieties. Since those genres, and graphic novels in particular, tend to appeal to boys, I hope that I can help other Boy Mommies in their quest to find books that their little video gamers--I mean, future bibliophiles will read and enjoy. When I am not reading, I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, video games, and singing karaoke. I have a wonderful husband who lets me indulge my reading habit by sharing the housework and being a great dad to our genius kids and their faithful hound.