Saturday, January 11, 2020

REVIEW: X-Day (manga, vol. 1) by Setona Mizushiro, translated by Shirley Kubo

X-Day is a 2-volume psychological drama that was licensed and translated into English by Tokyopop.


Content warnings for physical abuse, attempted suicide, and stalking/harassment.

Rika injured herself a while back and took some time off the track team as a result. She's now in her third and final year of high school and, although she's technically all healed up, she's left the track team and keeps resisting the pleas of her former coach and teammates to rejoin. What one of her former teammates doesn't realize is that her new boyfriend used to be Rika's boyfriend - he dumped Rika not too long ago.

Rika feels depressed and disconnected from her school life but is intrigued when someone in an anonymous school chat room suggests blowing up the school (why this isn't an immediate red flag for school officials, I don't know - I find it difficult to believe that a school chat room wouldn't have some form of monitoring in place). Following some clues, she eventually ends up meeting and getting to know several people from the chat in real life.

I recall Setona Mizushiro's After School Nightmare being an interesting series, albeit not really one I enjoyed (although, looking back, my reviews say otherwise, huh). It was a little too dark and unsettling for my tastes, and the character relationships made my skin crawl.

So far, X-Day seems to be a bit more straightforward. Rika, who goes by the name "11" in the chatroom, appears to be an accomplished student with no reason to hate school, but in reality she feels like her former track teammate is taking everything from her. She desperately wants to stop feeling anything about track team and her ex-boyfriend. The various visitors to the Ursa Minor chatroom, controlled by a girl who uses the name "Polaris," also have things in their lives that are stressing them out and depressing them and have decided that blowing up the school (at night, when no one is around to get hurt) will somehow help.

Part of my problem with this series is that the characters' motivations seem so weak. Okay, so they're all having problems for one reason or another. However, only one or two of them are having problems that are directly linked to being at school (and whether blowing up the building would actually fix their problems is a whole other issue...). The rest of them just seem to be going along with the idea for some reason. Is it the social aspect? They all finally found someone they could talk to and be their true selves with, and since one or two of them want to blow up the school, they all decided to go along with it? I don't know. I suppose I could sort of understand it if the whole chatroom group were composed of teens, but one of the members is a teacher. It boggles my mind that he got involved in this too, even considering his situation.

Well, one more volume to go. Will they actually manage to blow up the school, or will they get found out before they do anything too drastic? Will Rika's actions drive a wedge into the group? Will that one teacher manage to get a job someplace else or will his obsessed stalker push him over the edge? I guess I'll find out soon.

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