Cage of Eden, Vol. 1

By Yoshinobu Yamada. Released in Japan as “Eden no Ori” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

Sometimes, when reading yet another shonen manga, I do wonder why authors keep going to the same bag of tricks. The same character types, the same plot beats, all cliches. Then you read a title like Cage of Eden and it makes sense. It’s because they’re proven winners. People have succeeded with this plot and these types of characters over and over again. So while originality is totally lacking here, no one is reading Cage of Eden for that. You’re reading it to see how the heroes will possibly get out of this one.

And so we meet our cast: our hero and ‘class clown’ Akira, who acts up in order to cover for his feeling inadequate against his smarter, more handsome friends; his childhood friend Rion, who has grown up to be gorgeous and busty, and he is absolutely not in love with nope uh uh no way; our hero’s cool friend (I bet his teeth glint when he smiles); the computer nerd type who doesn’t want to socialize with people not in his intellectual league; the vaguely psychotic punk looking for a fight; and the useless adult figurehead.

After a brief ‘here is a class returning from their summer vacation school trip’ scene, we get into the plot proper, as the plane crashes. Our hero wakes up in the midst of a seemingly deserted island, quickly meets up with the geek kid and the crybaby stewardess, and sets about trying to figure out where they are, where everyone else is, if they can ever get home, and… wait, why are there prehistoric monsters here?

I should mention first off that the fanservice is really out in force here. Cute teenage girls, hot naked stewardesses, panties flashes galore. Of course, it’s not just sex. There’s a heaping helping of gore and violence here as well, and a large number of cool looking extinct or imaginary animals. If you define fanservice as giving the fans what they want, then the whole volume is basically this.

As for the rest, it’s nice seeing Akira take on the hero role that he clearly owns so early on. Given the situation they’re in, a lot of “Eh!… No way!” is here, but when it’s life or death, Akira proves surprisingly competent, while still remaining a realistic ‘normal guy’ trapped in a horrible situation. As for his companions, Shiro may be a nerd, but his smartness isn’t limited just to books; he looks to be a long-term planner as well. And Kanako, the stewardess… well, she’s the type who will either get killed off next volume or suddenly show she’s been badass all this time. I’m not sure which right now.

The title is rated OT by Kodansha, and with good reason. There’s a scene towards the end that shows mob mentality and panic in action, and not only is there a lot of blood, but several graphic rapes are hinted at. This is clearly meant to show that the heroes are completely cut off from civilization, and it works; it’s quite disturbing.

So this is manga candy, a page-turning thriller that you won’t be going back to over and over to get the hidden depth, but which is a lot of fun as you’re reading it. Hopefully in the next volume our heroes will continue to discover other classmates, battle large animals, and try to discover what the heck is going on. Well, assuming our hero wasn’t just killed on the last page of Volume 1…

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