Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Author: Yoshinobu Yamada
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: OT (Ages 16+)
Release Date: Available Now
Well, at least there’s no black mist monster or the Others on this island.
School excursions … it’s but one of many big moments in a Japanese student’s life where bonds are strengthened between classmates, romance occasionally blossoms and wonderful memories are made. For one class, however, a jaunt to an exotic locale turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival for one group of students in a most unusual island in Volume 1 of Cage of Eden.
We meet Akira Sengoku, a 15-year old student who delays the plane that holds all his classmates by arriving late during boarding. Nobody seems surprised at all seeing as they all know him to be something of a slacker with no real prospects. Still, he is a big part of the class that had traveled from Japan to Guam on a pleasant school excursion that – judging by the class pervert’s video footage – was composed of fun in the sun. Akira’s actually quite a popular guy seeing as his friends include the hottest guy in the class by the name of Arita Kohei and the hottest girl in the school who is a childhood friend who goes by the name of Akagami Rion.
The flight starts off peaceful enough for us to see the interaction between Rion and Akira is on the friendly side but Rion clearly sees the boy in a different light. Meanwhile, we meet the class brain, a boy named Mariya Shiro, and a new flight attendant named Ohmori Kanako. However, the peace is suddenly and violently disturbed when the plane suddenly takes a dip as all instruments begin to fail in the cockpit. Then all hell breaks lose in the cabin as Akira attempts to find Rion who moved out of her seat when an unusual anomaly appears before the boy.
The next thing we know, Akira opens his eyes to see that he is on a strange island rather inside an airplane. He thinks the plane might have crashed and he was thrown out somehow but if that was true where is the wreckage? On top of that, he sees unusual animals in this island such as tiny horses and an odd beaver-like creature. When he hears something that sounded like a voice he realizes he has come face-to-face with a huge man-eating bird that has attacked the class smart kid Mariya and the Ohmori, the flight attendant. Akira manages to lead the bird away in order to regroup with the only two survivors.
Thanks to the fact that Mariya managed to somehow fall out of the plane with his laptop, the brainy kid looks through an encyclopedia only to find out that all the creatures they have seen so far – including the giant man-eating bird called a Diatryma have all be instinct for millions of years now. Since they see no wreckage, Mariya also assumes that only ones that survived. Of course, all of this doesn’t sit well with the attractive and busty Ohmori.
Somehow, Akira manages to keep both his companions composed enough to keep searching anyway. It isn’t until Ohmori decides to take a bath in a stream that she notices a water bottle from the airplane that they realize that the plane has crashed somewhere and there might be survivors like them. When they manage to locate the plane, they also find the class pervert’s video camera that seems to have new footage.
Unfortunately, things get even more terrifying when a carnivorous creature with a huge maw kills a few students and forced them all back into the plane. It is Rion who tried her best to keep everyone calm before things turned badly back inside the plane. What they see on the camera is actually very disturbing as they watch what happened to the survivors on the airplane and how the pilot ended up murdered with a knife stuck into his stomach. Panic takes hold of his classmates that turns into something even more shocking.
Still, Akira manages to be reunited with Rion after figuring out what happened to her and the group tries to make sense of all that has happened so far. The four still don’t know what happened to the others since the camera doesn’t show where everyone went after they all became a panicky mess. As the others take on duties they are capable of carrying out, Akira feels useless. When he goes outside the plane, he is attacked by a person in a mask.
Cage of Eden has an intriguing setup and the “Lost” meets “Jurassic Park” vibe offers a number of interesting possibilities. Still, the series isn’t without its few problems that make some things seem so farfetched. Mariya’s laptop not being broken is one of them and just how did somebody smuggle a switchblade on board? Some might even have a problem with the fan service as well that has detailed panty shots from Rion (that seems out of place) and a nude bathing scene with the buxom Ohmori that seems tacked on just for the sake of adding nudity.
Still, it’s hard not to ignore its good qualities such as the decent characters and the fact that the survivors are going up against extinct animals that include saber-toothed tigers. Then, to add to the intrigue, there’s a maniac with a hockey mask on the loose.
Volume 1 of Cage of Eden has numerous possibilities that make for an interesting and fun read that – hopefully – will become stranger and even more exciting in future volumes. The characters and the island itself are fun to follow but despite a few issues I have with some elements I feel that it could have been a lot better. Still, there’s more than enough good here to make it worth picking up in hopes it gets even more fascinating.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
After a fun excursion in Guam, a class trip turns into a terrifying ordeal as the airplane crash lands on a most unusual island. Soon, student Akira finds himself, a fellow classmate and a surviving flight attendant discover that the island is filled with animals that have long been considered extinct. When they manage to locate their crashed plane, they find out that something terrible has happened as their struggle for survival is just beginning.
The artwork in the series is the kind we’ve seen before but, thanks to Yoshinobu Yamada’s attention to detail, you’ll find yourself appreciating the setting and the character design. Then there’s the fan service that can be a bit out of place at times a little too detailed for some, which is why the rating is appropriate for this title.
An intriguing survival story with plenty of mystery to boot, Volume 1 of Cage of Eden is off to a good start despite a few weak spots that hold it back from being a truly extraordinary story. Still, there’s plenty of potential in this first volume and, despite its flaws, Cage of Eden is actually a very entertaining read. This is certainly one worth checking out.
Review copy provided by Kodansha Comics