Daydream Sanctuary Features

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

LivingStone - Chapter 1

by Maekawa Tomohiro and Kataoka Jinsei
At the beginning of the 20th century American Doctor, Duncan MacDonald, engaged in a series of unethical experiments. Those experiments concluded that should one suffer a death not ordained by fate the human body lightened by an average of 30 grams, the weight of the a man's soul stone.
Today, two men, Sakarai and Amano, are in the hunt to find people who are about to die before their time and either prevent their unnatural death or recover these stones, "Livingstones." (Manga Helpers)

I already knew this was my type from the title alone~ The title already screams that it's a supernatural series, which is my favorite genre~ The cover art looking so good got me more attracted! And when I checked out the raw, I was still so amazed even if I didn't understand a thing. I'm so happy that translations were out so fast~

And it turned out to be more interesting and intriguing than I expected! I love it when a series is much better than my high expectations~

If I understood correctly, the Livingstone is the human's soul. So the name can be taken literally since it's a stone that has life. As a stone it weighs around 21 grams (the weight concluded from a controversial experiment).
The soul is like the DNA of one's life, it 90% pretermines how one will live and die. It's like a "plan" in one's life, in other words it's "predestination". Once a soul has fulfilled its "plan," it matures, leading to success in the next world; but if a soul strays from its "plan", they shatter and their shards remain in this world. Shattered souls (which are also called "stains" I think, or they at least cause those "stains") due to "unplanned" accidents create places called the "point of negativity". Those souls also drag down other people's souls.
It's the job of the people working under LivingStone Collection Services to prevent that from happening. In order to prevent the number of souls from decreasing in this vicious cycle, souls need to be protected and managed so they can mature properly. So when amending the "plan" proves to be impossible, the flesh is forced to be abandoned to this world. In other words, they "save" the livingstone to preserve its proper shape and "kill" the body that's left behind. So when the two main guys said that they'll be saving and killing the victim, they are really going to do both.

The story idea/concept is very creative and interesting~ Stories involving human souls and one's destiny aren't really that new, but this is the first one I've come across that has the idea of souls having a physical form. It also showed that negative energy can influence others. I also find it cool that there's a way to figure out what happened in the point of negativity that made is such a place. The method on how that is discovered had been really really awesome~ And I find the idea of "saving" and "killing" at the same time really really fantastic~

As for the actual story, our leading characters have a case wherein they had to deal with a dude that's about to become a shattered soul, because his suicide is something "unplanned". The two mysterious dudes just appeared out of nowhere then said stuff about one's soul, making the poor guy suspicious of them and think they're some religious freaks. Haha! The two boys had also been contradicting; one of them wants to save the victim while the other is telling the victim to die already if he no longer has guts to live (unless he was using reverse psychology). Haha! That got the victim really confused on what they really wanted to do with him. Haha!
Anyway, it seems that the victim became like that because the place he lives in had so many stains, thus making it a "point of negativity". A murder occured in that place . . . a young child was killed. That shattered soul affected the soul currently living in it, and it has been 6 years, it was long enough to make the fulfillment of the victim to drop to 52%. He's already in so much despair, that no matter what the glasses guy tries to convince him to live on, he's already determined to die.
So to prevent him from becoming a shattered soul, the two leading guys do their job. They needed the soul's permission to do so though, and well, the dying person didn't mind. As expected, the victim's livingstone was a deformed one. After the soul was taken and saved, the body was killed. The police took it as a suicide.
And of course, to prevent more incidents like that from happening, the stains had been cleaned. The room with stains look ugly, but if you see the stains close-up, they're like some adorable bacteria. Haha! Reminds me of Moyashimon~

It's just the first chapter, but it's already so good! A good concept/idea plus a good story is really a great combination! I have no complains on how it was narrated and presented, because it had been done really well! This chapter has been a nice introduction to the series; giving us some background and a sample of a case concerning a shattered soul. It also provided sufficient information on what the story concept is all about. It's not something factual though, and pretty complicated, so it's no wonder the victim can't completely understand what they mean. The leading characters find it difficult to explain as well . . . but I find it amusing that he's wishing for a pamphlet or something. As if a person in a critical situation has time to do something like that. Haha!
I also like it that the ideas about the soul, even though the series had some explanations for it, still remains pretty vague, complicated, and mysterious. A leading character even admits that he doesn't fully understand what souls exactly are either.

With the fictional souls thing, I believe this series is mainly under the supernatural and fantasy categories.It also has horror, mystery, suspense, even comedy, and maybe even drama and psychological too. With the murders, I guess you could say this one had violence too. I wouldn't be surprised if there'll be more bloodshed in later chapters. I can also imagine this having some action too, because I have a feeling that some souls will be more . . . challenging for our heroes to take care of.

I love the genre mix. I really feel that it's been balanced, at least the main ones. The comedy parts may seem too little, but there are actually more funny parts aside from the obvious ones; they're just kinda subtle (like the pamphlet thing. Wahaha! . . . or maybe I'm the only one who finds those funny. I'm easily humored you see . . . ). I think this chapter had been best in showing the horror and supernatural parts. The scenes about the room's past looked really horrifying; and the way how the livingstone was taken had been very amazing! I love how those scenes had been presented/illustrated!

The art may be pretty familiar to others because it's drawn by the dude who did Deadman Wonderland and Eureka Seven. No wonder the art is so amazing! I'm happy that there are colored pages~ Seeing those scenes colored make them look more awesome than it already is! Many other amazing panels made my jaw drop from wonder~

Heck, if the story's not your thing, I believe you could already be satisfied with that awesome art~ Unless, well, it's not your type.

The two main characters are Sakurai and Amano. They seem to be partners, with totally different personalities, but they seem to get along fine, even though Amano has a habit of making Sakurai frustrated. Haha!
You could already see how much they differ from the way they dress.They also seem to have different approaches to their work: Sakurai's serious about it and wants to save victims if possible; while Amano doesn't give a damn and just does his job.

I like it that even though they're opposites, they still get along and do their work. There are a lot of other duos like this in other manga and anime, but this pair is a pretty unique combination. For one is that, they don't argue . . . at least in this chapter. Usually I see guys like this argue a lot, even if they're partners. And the most unique thing for me is that: none of the two is a coldhearted tsundere! NONE! Oh I love this series for not following the guy duo stereotypes~

Overall: The things I mainly look into a series are the story concept, actual story, genre mix, characters, art, and enjoyment . . . . and this series excelled in all areas! I'm very very impressed!

I fell in love with this series at first sight, and I'm obviously already very hooked to it! The story's totally my type, and the first chapter had already amazed and impressed me so much! I think Sakurai's my favorite, for being so adorkable! Hahaha! It's fun to watch him being abused. Hahahaha!

I can't wait for the next chapter! I've heard it's another 50+ page long chapter with colored pages. Awesome~

Well, since I'm obviously hooked to it, of course I highly recommend it. Come on, go crazy about it with me! Wahahahaha!
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