Alive: The Final Evolution, from Del Rey, reaches its 6th volume here. This supernatural/sci-fi series is pitched at age 16+ and so far has been a thrilling read. Volume 6 continues the story with 4 more chapters. Taisuke, Yuta, and Nami are still travelling ‘north’. Katsumata and his motley crew are still hanging out and talking in vague terms about their goal, ‘Acro’s Heart’. Taisuke’s sister still does very little, except pout. Overall then, it’s a typical volume.
The first half, (i.e. the first 2 chapters), is actually quite poor. It sees author Tadashi Kawashima struggle to keep the reader up to date with all the characters that he has created. Almost every character appears in the first chapter, which means that they are spread rather thinly and each one doesn’t get much chance to do anything. It’s like each one is making a cameo appearance. Somehow though, there’s time for some Nami fanservice. Kawashima does try to bring two of the plot threads together, but it feels rather awkward. On the other hand, it makes sense because it streamlines the plot and means there aren’t so many different individuals off doing different things.
The second half of the volume fares much better. Our heroes end up at a Bed and Breakfast, but it’s much more exciting than it sounds. Naturally they don’t just spend the night in front of the fire with a mug of tea. They embark on a rescue mission for an errant horse, belonging to the B & B owner’s daughter. This is a good chapter and sees further development of Nami’s character. Meanwhile, rounding off the volume, we meet yet more comrades. Their powers aren’t the best, but at least we get to see some action after the slow pace of the first half of the volume.
In his introductory note, the author writes – “Taisuke is weak, but he gives his all. That’s why he makes a great protagonist.” I’d agree with that. He is very endearing. He keeps the reader’s interest, even when the plot is slow moving. The other principle characters are also excellent and well-rounded, and brought to life by great artwork. This Del Rey release has bonus material in the form of translation notes and genuinely very funny “Light Visual Manga” at the end.
Alive remains enjoyable due to the great characters. While this wasn’t the best volume, I’m still enjoying it and looking forward to what will unfold.