Written by Ross Locksley on 19 Apr 2011
Distributor Vertical • Author/Artist Nobuaki Tadano • Price £7.99
When an inter-galactic presence collides, quite literally, with teenage outcast Hikaru Takabe, she gets a brand new lease on life.
Although the book claims to be inspired by Needle, a hard SF novel by the late Hal Clement, it's closest stable mate is Parasyte, a hard-edged manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki that will likely only be remembered by those of us who have been active fandom since what I call Fandom BN (Fandom Before Naruto).
As Hikaru struggles to come to terms with the alien that now inhabits her body (eventually introduced as Horizon), another alien presence known as Maelstrom has also taken hold of a human host. Maelstrom's only purpose is to destroy all life, and does so by merging with other life-forms and then devouring them. This sets up a cat-and-mouse chase as each tries to find and destroy the other. 7 Billion Needles refers to the 7 billion people on the planet, and is a wonderful title for a great book.
While the pace may seem sedate at first, the measured tone of the book lends it a maturity that I genuinely appreciated. There's as much drama in Hikaru's need to challenge her repressed personality as the bloody murders that populate the pages, culminating in a rather splendid (if bloodthirsty) ending that closes the first chapter perfectly.
There's a pulp feeling to the style of the book - everything from the 50's style of the cover to the simple yet beautifully drawn interior pages. It's not a book that will appeal to the fantasy crowd, or those that like moe or bishojou styles perhaps, but as a well crafted tale with solid art and a mature pace, this is a great book for your shelf.
At only four volumes, the series certainly won't outstay it's welcome, and if you fancy a change of pace from Bleach et al, you could certainly do a lot worse than check this out.
My thanks to Stu Abbott for the loan of the book. Now I have to buy my own copy!
Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
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