A manga by Oishi Romy and Meshe
A common trope for a lot of films and TV shows is the protagonist being caught in a repeating time loop, commonly called a “Groundhog Day” Loop. The idea predates that film by many years, but that is by far the most famous iteration of it. That is the plot device used in the comic I’d like to talk about today, called Lockdown Zone Level X by Oishi Romy and Meshe. The comic is serialized digitally on Amazon, and is available on Kindle (which is how I started reading it) or through the localization company, Denpa.
Denpa is a relatively new company that publishes manga in English. Each chapter is being sold for a relatively small price each, usually around a couple of dollars. If one were to group it all together, this would basically be the same size and price as a graphic novel volume at six chapters or so. As of this review, there are 11 chapters available. I am not that far, so I am not certain if it is complete, as chapters appear to be coming out at irregular intervals. A few of the volumes are free on Denpa’s own website, so there’s really no reason to not check this out.
“Ryoka is awakened by flurry of text messages from her mother! Panicked and rushed, Mom is clearly concerned for Ryoka’s safety, but she is not to keen on letting her daughter know why. Her reasoning being that nothing could really properly describe what is happening!”
I came across this manga when I got on a bit of a Japanese horror kick this summer, I read comics like Creature by Shingo Honda and 7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano, so this got recommended on Amazon and I figured “what the hell”. As of chapter one, we aren’t treated to a whole lot of the story as of yet. The protagonist, a school girl named Ryoka, is stuck in her apartment when she finds out about a giant monster attacking everything and controlling others through some kind of mind-control spores. She makes a few mistakes and dies, only to discover that she’s still alive after waking up again seemingly unharmed. It appears to be the same day, the same flurry of text messages from her mother, and the very same monster outside. She is stuck in an aforementioned “Groundhog Day Loop” The goal of her first few loops is to try to stay alive, as well as protecting her friend Shuhei, a boy that she likes from school.
This book is not for the faint of heart, as there is quite a bit of explicit gore as X (pronounced “Sai”) seems to be at every corner with razor sharp tendrils on the look out for blood. While it’s not the most gory book I’ve seen, be prepared if the sight of such things is bothersome to you. All-in-all this is a promising first chapter in a low-key series I had never heard of. With the Junji Ito renaissance making horror manga more popular in the US, I’m glad to see more coming over as it’s a genre that is wildly overlooked here. I will definitely keep reading!