Adapted by Naoshi Arakawa
On a record-breaking snowy day, eight classmates arrive at school like it's any other school day. When no one else shows up, including their teacher, they begin to wonder why. They check the doors and windows - all sealed shut - and realize the clocks and their watches have all stopped at the same time - 5:53. A mysterious phone call plays back voices of frantic adults, and they finally put it all together; they are stuck in the moment when one of their classmates took their own life, two months ago on the last day of the school's festival. The problem is, none of them can remember who it was who committed suicide. When something unexpected happens to one of them, they realize they are in a race against time and a potentially malicious spirit to regain their memories and piece together what happened.
This story was originally a novel by Tsujimura, and Arakawa adapted and illustrated it into manga form.
This story center around a suicide, but there are some horror elements that I wasn't expecting. The conversation between the eight students plays out like a "whodunnit" of trying to figure out who the student is, with lots of questions being posed, hypotheses, and tracking down of any clue that might help them. The subject matter might also be something to consider when purchasing/recommending this story since it does include teen suicide. In this first volume, the students talk about the suicide, and you hear the adults on the phone call, one of them pleading with the student to "think it over" and not jump. While it doesn't make light of suicide as a topic, so far, there is no conversation about what could have been done to prevent it in the first place.
The illustrations in this manga were very typical of the genre. There are a few characters who look similar to each other, which makes it a little hard to track, but most of them have at least one major visual quality that separates them from their classmates.
Vertical rates this for Older Teen (16+), and given the subject matter, this is appropriate. So far, there isn't any cussing or sexual situations, but the horror elements and how much focus there is on suicide makes this something I would hand to a more mature teen.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
ISBN: 9781949980493 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, School Age, Mystery, Horror
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