Other zombie fiction – I am a Hero

So. Speaking of zombie fiction, I just read a zombie manga, I am a Hero that’s surprisingly well constructed. One of my issues with zombie fiction is people failing to take into account how zombies function. They might learn some factoid (like the popular “zombies are attracted to noise”) and there might be a scenario where people even use that to their advantage, but then they forget about it again. Here, people seem to learn and carry forward those lessons. Also, these zombies are actually a lot less predictable than the standard ones, so they’re far harder to deal with.


The manga is imperfect, of course. It relies really heavily on the idea that no one really reacts to what’s going on for the first half, which is undoubtedly commentary on the state of Japan, but the manga’s a lot stronger when it’s going for realism. Also, the initial zombies are pretty awful – I think the half-naked zombie girlfriend bit was trying for grotesque horror but it was just gratuitous, and the next major one isn’t better. 
What I really like are the characters.
The main character is not really a great guy, but you can see he’s actually trying. He’s also insane in a wonderfully accurate, reasonable way – he has hallucinations, and not the cool, insightful kind, and he tries to deal with things by sticking to rules and regulations. He wants to be a hero, but he’s not one. He can be an asshole, but much of that turns out to be posturing as well. He actually has a gun (and the typical lack of gun ownership in Japan is a major point) but it’s a security blanket, not something he uses. There’s this wonderful sequence where he’s in the middle of the forest at night after escaping zombies for the moment, and talking about how he’s safe because he has the gun, and going through each component that he has available, and then the camera pulls back and you see what’s actually happening.
And unlike most of these stories, the zombies are characters as well.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

WWZ doesn’t like this sort of touchy-feely thing, but I think having it, or even just the uncertainty of if it’s there, is crucial to zombie fiction. Otherwise they might as well be a plague of orcs. The fact these were once people, and perhaps part of them is still there, is the particular horror of zombies. And these zombies having something left to them serves to make them more dangerous, because they’re not all acting in one standard way. WWZ views zombies as a survival test only, and that’s its greatest failing.

19 Comments

  1. Guest says:
    I just finished Franken Fran a few weeks ago, and this makes Franken Fran look happy and upbeat in comparison.

    I think what makes it so awful is that there are constantly and consistently these very human moments, where people are nice, reasonable and self-sacrificing, but in a resigned, last-resort sort of way rather than being badass action heroes or anything like that. It makes it really hard not to think of all the characters as *people* rather than devices, and you can’t just detach yourself from all the violence and horror.

    … And now I’m going to have trouble sleeping.

    1. Farla says:
      I find Franken Fran really squicky, but it’s a pretty lighthearted take on body horror.
      If you can detach yourself from the horror, it’s not really horror any longer, it’s just plodding splatter. Horror should be a trial to get through with good horror being worth it.
      1. Ember says:
         I read through all of what was out a couple years ago or so, and there was only one chapter that really got to me.  It was the one featuring the lady-creature in bandages with all the extra organs, and I guess what really hit me was the betrayal.  She’d been gradually built up as this sort of grotesque angel-in-disguise… but, no, actually she *is* a monster in every sense.  Sometimes your instincts are right, and that’s awful.
        1. Guest says:
          “She’d been gradually built up as this sort of grotesque
          angel-in-disguise… but, no, actually she *is* a monster in every
          sense.”
           
          Not in every sense.

          It’s only that her face is a mass of body-part-eating tentacles and she’s compelled to do what people say. She was actually a human once. Her story is actually pretty sad.

          1. Ember says:
             Oh man, I didn’t get that far.  Maybe I should read the rest of it.
              1. Ember says:
                 “Sorry, it’s licensed and not available.”
                … :(
              2. Farla says:
                Google for it, there’s another site that’s the same with less scruples. Also presumably straight downloads/torrents.
              3. Ember says:
                 Oh, but I’ve found another site that hosts it!  I’m picking up from the chapter I left off on, so it will be a while till I get there.  But October is a good month for this!
              4. Guest says:
                Assuming you left off no earlier than the Adorea chapter, you can’t have more than a few chapters to go.

                And boy, that means that cocoon baby chapter is coming up!

                Dead baby comedy usually doesn’t phase me, but… so many wasps! D:

              5. Ember says:
                 I missed it the first go-through because it was just labeled as extra!  I just find it though!  Yesssss, revenge story, good! :D

                I don’t see the part about her being compelled to follow orders, though?

              6. Guest says:
                 That’s because it’s in a much later chapter. The one about blood types, I believe.
              7. Ember says:
                 Ah!

                And the cocoon baby chapter didn’t so much horrify me as leave me going, “Oh, come on!” at everyone involved.  Wasps eating your slug-baby doesn’t mean the slug-baby idea is fundamentally unworkable and women get pregnant ~for a reason~, it means you need to develop a way of keeping the slug-babies more secure!  It’s not like being carried around in a mobile person’s body is really all that safe!

                Of course, with all the bad press it’s understandable that people aren’t particularly interested in perfecting the method, but you would expect Fran to be more practical.  It was such an awesome idea!

              8. Guest says:
                 It’s more that I just have an absurd and irrational fear of wasps and bees, and seeing so many emerge from anything is all my nightmares brought to life. The day I found out that some figs have wasps in them, I stopped eating figs.

                It was definitely a really awesome idea, though!

              9. Ember says:
                 I just got to the octopus story.  I think I have a new favorite chapter.

                Even the horrible pseudo-incestuous sex scene didn’t faze me, because Octupus!  Being brilliant and weird!  And possibly taking over the world!  :D

              10. Ember says:
                 …and now I’m reading over what I just wrote and wow even I am disturbed at just how much of a weirder and more blasé person the internet and Japanese media have made me.
              11. Guest says:
                 … Is it bad that when I read most of these chapters I can’t help but think of how awesome it would be if these procedures actually existed? I mean… So long as you didn’t use them like a moron like a lot of the examples in the manga.
              12. Farla says:
                I found I liked the chapters about gonzo procedures as well. But the  other chapters where it’s terrible things happening to people because she’s insane and won’t listen are too much for me.
              13. Ember says:
                 @Farla:  Those are pretty much my feelings as well.  I especially dislike the recurring female characters who seem to exist for her to abuse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar