Alive: The Final Evolution Volume 5

Chapters #16 – #19 of Alive: The Final Evolution are presented here in volume #5.  Thus far, Del Rey’s supernatural/sci-fi series has had its highs and lows.  It is not very original, and its post-apocalyptic setting and characters with supernatural powers (called “comrades”) are reminiscent of countless other series.  But despite its flaws, it is usually a rewarding and engaging read for the slightly more mature manga fan.

The last volume ended with a gripping cliffhanger and I’m sure most readers would have been on tenterhooks to see how it would be resolved.  Fat otaku Okada showed just how nasty and heartless he is, and caused a major headache for protagonist Taisuke and his chums.  And so the first chapter here, called “You’re No Different”, gives a fitting conclusion to that little episode. 

It’s a great opening.  Exciting drama and action are complimented by the development of the relationship between Taisuke and Nami, the kick-ass beauty whose aim is to “destroy all comrades.”  Elsewhere in the volume we get an explanation as to why “comrades” came into existence, where they came from, and what their purpose is.  This is provided by Katsumata, the ultimate villain of the piece.  He plays the role of puppet master but actually, he doesn’t seem to do much of anything.  He seems to have a lot of information and the allegiance of his little group but it’s not clear why.  I’d like to see a little more of him and his background.

Yet another new character is introduced in the form of this volume’s cover star, Kanon.  She seems kind of spoiled and temperamental, which does not fit in with the rest of Katsumata’s comrades.  She could prove to be a thorn in his side which could make for interesting reading.  However, I do wonder how many more characters are needed.  I think they are running the risk of spreading themselves too thinly.  It’s not a big problem at this stage but I feel they should focus on the key personalities.  Another flaw is the sporadic appearance of the reporter, Amamiya.  She adds very little to the story.  She follows Taisuke’s tracks which means we, the readers, get an unnecessary and unwelcome repeat of what we already know. 

The artwork is great.  It’s one of those series where the author and artist seem to really understand each other.  Although I couldn’t help feeling that Hirose looks to have aged a few years since the first few volumes.  Overall then, this is another solid entry in this series.  It is a page-turner and they’ve created well-realised characters that the reader is able to identify with, and care about their plight.

In Summary

Alive is not original and not without its flaws, but it has a lot of personality and charm.  I urge anyone who is interested to give it a chance, and this volume gives some explanation for the origin of the “Final Evolution”.

7 / 10