The manga series Alive: The Final Evolution (Saishū Shinkateki Shōnen) was written by Tadashi Kawashima and illustrated by Adachitoka. It ran from 2003 to 2010; the final instalment was published shortly before Kawashima’s death. The first volume covers the first three instalments.
Small and timid, Yuichi Hirose is a natural target for his school’s bullies. His only defense is provided by his friend Taisuke Kanou. Taisuke is an orphan, which would likely make him a target too … if it weren’t for Taisuke’s determined pugnaciousness. Taisuke never hesitates to step between Hirose and his tormentors, despite the fact that Taisuke always loses the scuffles that follow.
It turns out that all Hirose needs to do to end his torment is to tap new potential.
An inexplicable wave of suicides has swept across Japan and later the world. People are killing themselves in job lots, without reason or warning. Taisuke witnesses one such suicide, a student whose plummet from the school’s roof ends at his feet. To his surprise, the girl is smiling happily even as she hits the pavement.
Authorities initially suspect that some cult must causing the deaths. Investigation proves that this isn’t the case. The victims do not belong to the same sect. Indeed, they don’t seem to have anything in common other than senseless suicide.
Perhaps it’s a virus, messing with human neurochemistry and driving victims to suicide? Close but no cigar. There is an entity at work here but it does not seem to be a virus. Although exactly what it might be is not explained in the first volume, we do know that it is extraterrestrial and that it delights in death.
We also learn that not all the victims of this entity kill themselves. Some are changed. Hirose, for one, seems to have become immune to bullying. Hirose’s tormentors drag him onto the school roof for a spot of torture. Taisuke races to save his friend and finds Hirose surrounded by the scattered remains of the bullies.
Police are called; Hirose is detained. He insists that he didn’t kill the bullies. The police believe otherwise and yet Hirose is released, thanks to a corrupt cop invested in seeing death and chaos spread. Once he is released … he returns to school, attacks Taisuke, kidnaps fellow student Megumi Ochiai, and flees. This is a new Hirose.
Hirose’s attempt to kill Taisuke fails. Taisuke has new abilities of his own.
I vaguely remember another manga featuring an outcast driven mad by new powers, who has to be dealt with by the person who previously protected them from bullies.
Not that the theme of bullied kids gaining new powers and going all Carrie on their schoolmates is unique to manga.
If you are bothered by death, this is not the series for you. If you are bothered by graphic depiction of mutilated corpses, this may not be the series for you. I thought that this might be the origin volume of a superhero manga. It seems to be the first volume of a horror manga.
Adachitoka’s art is not as polished as it is in Noragami, a later effort. The translation is also dodgy from time to time. However, if you can overlook those defects the story is solid enough. The manga bristles with narrative hooks that will grab many readers. I’m afraid they didn’t grab me. There’s just too much murder for my tastes. I may or may not give future volumes a try.
Alive: The Final Evolution (Saishū Shinkateki Shōnen), Volume One seems to be out of print.