Alive: The Final Evolution Volume 3

‘You can choose to be barely alive.  Or you can choose a definite death.  So….don’t make a wrong choice.’  This is the sombre advice given to the protagonist of this story, Taisuke.  After surviving the ‘suicide virus’, he was left with a supernatural power.  And he’s not the only one.  These people are evolved humans, and they call each other ‘comrades’.  Taisuke’s childhood chum, Hirose, is another comrade.  But he kidnapped the lovely Megumi and headed north, with the sinister Katsumata and other comrades.

Alive has now comfortably settled into a plot arc.  Taisuke and his new friend Yuta are travelling north, looking for Hirose and the bad guys.  In this volume they come across three comrades in three separate episodes.

Firstly, our heroes do battle with Morio, of Katsumata’s gang.  They engage in a thrilling duel.  Morio’s power is to control wind, so he can hurt Taisuke without being near him.  And since comrades can sense each other, the odds are against Taisuke.  Taisuke’s power is heat.  He has to use his brain to come up with a strategy, which makes this a battle of wits as much as a battle of supernatural powers.  This is a fantastic chapter, combining action with intelligent storytelling. 

The second comrade they meet gives Taisuke the advice mentioned above.  After that, our heroes meet a brother and sister, on the run from their father who is intent on killing them.  Of course, the father is comrade #3 in this volume, and his story takes up two of the four chapters here.  This is even better than the battle with Morio, it’s just brilliant.  It’s a great mix of horror, suspense, action, and unpredictability.  A father trying to kill his children is disturbing though, and his power leads to some disturbing artwork too.  It is a little bit scary and there is a constantly menacing tone to the story, so it might not be for everyone.

Taisuke has really grown on me and I think he is a good hero for this story.  He is getting to grips with the whole situation and he’s not so slow to pick things up anymore.  It’s implied that he is not a fully evolved comrade like the others, as though he is somewhere inbetween, which is an interesting scenario.  His morals are firm and true though, and he carries his burden well.  He and Yuta look out for each other, they compliment each other well and make a for a good partnership.  Taisuke’s sister makes another brief appearance for the sole purpose of providing fanservice.

I loved this whole volume, I found it to be fantastic.  It seems to get better with every chapter, or even every page, or panel.  I’m really impressed with how much Alive has improved after a very average debut volume.  Now, it has built up its momentum and seems to really have that ‘page-turner’ quality.  Everything about it is getting better and better – storyline, characters, artwork.  After I had raced through this volume, I went back to the beginning and read it again – a sure sign of quality.  It’s really exciting and I just hope they can sustain this quality, and they will have a real hit on their hands.

Adachitoka’s artwork is really good.  I think that she has grown in confidence, and her drawings are the perfect compliment to this compelling story.  Released by Del Rey/Tanoshimi, this has bonus content in the form of four panel jokes and a sneaky peak at the next volume.  There’s translation notes too, although there are only a few notes on this occasion.

In Summary

An exciting volume of this sci-fi series.  Building on the promise shown in #1 and #2, I was really surprised at just how good this is.  Thoroughly recommended to sci-fi fans and fans of mature manga.

9 / 10