(DrMaster Publications, 2008)
After over a century of earthquakes, atom bombs and Godzilla, the Japanese know disaster. I don’t mean that to sound trite. I’d guess that Japan is probably one of the most disaster-prepared nations in the world, so it’s probably no wonder that the idea of monsters or robots destroying Tokyo bleeds over into the fictive imaginations of writers.
Metro Survive by Yuki Fujisawa predates the 3-11 earthquake disaster by a few years and that shows that earthquakes are continually in the minds of Japanese, even in their manga. Metro Survive is about a mild-mannered building maintenance worker named Mishima who works at a brand-new metro complex. Tomorrow is his son’s birthday and he is eager to buy some toy his son wanted, but then his fat jerk of a boss orders him to do some overtime. Mishima, being a pushover, just obeys but the job takes all night and it’s nearly morning before he’s done. Taking the subway home, the unthinkable happens: a massive earthquake occurs and the brand-new metro-plex, hastily built with catastrophic safety violations, collapses, trapping Mishima in the metro subway complex.
The pushover Mishima then manages to summon guile and courage through several trials and becomes the unwitting leader of a group of late-night subway travelers. However, when Mishima’s group encounters another group of subway survivors they find that surviving the disaster is not their only worry. Despite the danger shared by all, Mishima’s group find that there are those who not only capitalize on disaster but also relish in it. Two sadistic nightclub creeps, their club skanks and bully college judo players control the other group with an iron fist, determined to survive the disaster while having their own sick fun along the way.
Metro Survive is short for a Japanese manga, being only two volumes, which is fine by me. I can’t keep up with the never-ending series. It’s a great story, though. Over the course of the two volumes the character development of the survivors is really shows as some, like Mishima, find their hidden courage and others their hidden cowardice. The two sadistic fancy-lad douchebag nightclub dudes were really pretty twisted and added a frightening turn to the already tense predicament. The artwork, also, was very well-done. I find that in a lot of manga there is a lot of wasted space through big splash panels and a lot of confusing action lines. Metro Survive‘s art, also done by Fujisawa, complemented the story perfectly.
All in all, Metro Survive is an exciting read and considering that there are only two volumes you can finish it in a night. You probably won’t look at subways the same way again.