A manga by Oishi Romy and Meshe
At the end of my last review, I talked about how I went into chapter two with my idea of what the “rules” of this story were, assuming this would be a typical “groundhog day loop” plot with incremental steps until the characters figure out how to escape their ordeal. Then, and without warning at all, we were faced with a rulebook on fire and me being back at square one! The antagonist of this story, “X” (pronounced Sai), was introduced as a largely impersonal giant monster sitting on top of an apartment building using the inhabitants as food to spread spores and mind-control all of the rest of Japan. The characters of Ryoka and Shuhei manage to slip past and make it outside, only to succumb to the horrible death that a large scale creature such as that could inflict. Ryoka wakes back up, and somehow….things are different.
“After numerous attempts to escape their apartment building, Ryoka and Shuhei find themselves being stalked by a new threat. What is happening in their building? But more importantly why are they stuck in this bizarre time-loop?!”
Somehow “X” is now a blind, but highly receptive, bipedal stalker with claws built with the sole instinct of killing anything that sets off it’s echo-location it uses to hunt. Ryoka and Shuhei create a new set of tactics to hopefully stay alive, but alas “X” is too much this time around. The crew is hampered by the fact that Ryoka is the only one that remembers previous loops, making it hard to get the point across that something even weirder than the unlikely scenario of a killer monster being on the loose is happening. She tries her best, but nothing seems to work this time.
The very last page gave me serious Gantz vibes for those familiar with the modern classic science fiction story by Hiroya Oku. in Gantz, the characters are tossed into a hopeless series of challenges to fight against foes referred to as “aliens” with very high stakes usually resulting in a massive death toll amongst the participants. Think Squid Game, but from 15 years ago. It is later revealed that aliens are pulling the strings and that the characters are basically in a videogame for their own amusement. When Ryoka is killed in an elevator by “X”, she notices that her apartment now has more floors that it used to have, as if it “upgraded along with the creature. I feel that it gives the impression of an invisible hand controlling the whole situation much like the other comic. Time will tell if that hunch is correct, but I am definitely hooked and want to figure out what’s up.
Lockdown Zone: Level X by Oishi Romy and Meshe continues to be one of my favorite little surprises of 2021. In a year when I’ve read a TON of books compared to the past, I have really found some gems, and little low key releases like this have usually been big favorites. Can’t wait to read more and try to unravel the mystery.