Sunday, May 11, 2014

Graphic Novel Review ALL YOU NEED IS KILL (OGN)

VIZ MEDIA/Haikasoru – @VIZMedia; @haikasoru

STORY: Hiroshi Sakurazaka
ART: Lee Ferguson
COLORS: Fajar Buana
LETTERS: Zack Turner
EDITOR: Joel Enos
ISBN: 978-1-4215-6081-6; paperback, (May 2014)
96pp, Color, $14.99 U.S., $17.99 CAN

There is a new Tom Cruise movie arriving in theatres in the coming weeks.  This movie is entitled Edge of Tomorrow, and it is based on the novel, All You Need is Kill. Bestselling author John Scalzi (author of Old Man’s War), called All You Need is Kill “science fiction for the adrenaline junkie.” 

First published in 2004, All You Need is Kill is a Japanese science fiction novel written by author Hiroshi Sakurazaka.  Back in July 2009, All You Need is Kill and The Lord of the Sands of Time (by author Issui Ogawa) were the first two novels published by Haikasoru, a science fiction imprint of North American manga publisher, VIZ Media.

In the past few years, VIZ Media has been producing original graphic novels based on various media properties (Hello Kitty, Ben 10 – for example).  Now, its Haikasoru imprint is publishing an original English-language graphic novel of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill.

All You Need is Kill: Official Graphic Novel Adaptation is created by Nick Mamatas (script adaptation of the novel), Lee Ferguson (artist), Fajar Buana (colors), and Zack Turner (letters).  The story focuses on Keiji Kiriya, a Japanese soldier of the 301st division of the United Defense Forces (UDF).  Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor, which is called a “Jacket,” and then, sent out to kill the alien invaders called “Mimics.”

Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again.  However, he is not only starting to remember the previous iterations of his fight, but he is also learning more about the enemy and how to fight them.  After one particular rebirth, Keiji gets a message from a mysterious ally, Rita Vrataski – the American female soldier known only as the Full Metal Bitch.  And she may have a way to stop the Mimics.

Of course, All You Need is Kill is a fantastic title for a book, for a manga, and even for a movie.  Yes, producers of the Tom Cruise movie, All You Need is Kill is an even better title than Edge of Tomorrow, which is itself a cool title.

What about the quality of this original graphic novel?  It is a fantastic read.  When VIZ Media first sent me a copy for review, I did not expect much from it, after giving the book a cursory glance.  What surprised me the most is that the graphic novel is not like any other comic book on the market and shelves today.  And it is not Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers.  If I had to compare it to anything I would compare it to Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film, Full Metal Jacket.

Like Full Metal Jacket, All You Need is Kill the graphic novel tackles the absurdity of the war machine – from training soldiers and equipping them to sending them into battle.  At the same time, writer Nick Mamatas finds space in cutting the original text to present Keiji’s training method for survival as something that is plausible.  Basically Mamatas has adapted the novel into a graphic novel that does not seem like a collection of plot points and a narrative stream of the original novel’s best action scenes.  It is a complete comic book story with a good plot and well-developed characters and settings.

Artist Lee Ferguson draws the story in a spare style that establishes mood, captures the sense of desperation, highlights the absurdities, and clearly tells the story.  Fajar Buana’s colors depict the bloody horror of war, and some of the coloring also captures that otherworldly sense which classic science fiction has.

After enjoying this truly fine science fiction original graphic novel, I really want to read the original prose novel.  Readers looking for imaginative alien invasion science fiction will realize All You Need is Kill.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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