Hikaru Takabe may not be the most social of teens. Always sporting her headphones, she gives off an aloof aura that rubs her classmates the wrong way. But her not being part of the crowd takes on a different dimension when she becomes involved in an intergalactic game of cat and mouse.
Inspired by Needle, the Golden Age hard sci-fi classic by the late Hal Clement, Nobuaki Tadano’s debut work brings a unique take on alien invasion up to date and into the maelstrom that is the Japanese high school girl.
7 Billion Needles is emotionally intelligent science fiction in a compact four volumes.
Nobuaki Tadano made his mainstream debut in 2007 with the short story Hikikomori Headphone Girl for Media Factory’s monthly sci-fi and fantasy comic anthology Comic Flapper. Tadano’s style and thoughtful panel presentation earned him respect from seasoned industry veterans. The one-shot’s success earned him Media Factory’s Comic Flapper New Artist Award and led to him being signed up to work on his first feature-length series 7 Billion Needles.
“Once I started reading it, the rest of the world faded into background, not unlike when protagonist Hikaru cranks up her music to isolate herself from her surroundings… This is a suspenseful, intense book. I love the complex and detailed art, and how clearly the action is rendered. What I enjoyed best, though, is how skillfully Nobuaki Tadano develops Hikaru’s character. By the end of this introductory volume, it’s impossible to not care for Hikaru. Oh, volume two, it will be a long wait until November! Grade: A-”
—Manga Maniac Cafe
“I am again both surprised and pleased at the level of quality Vertical Inc's manga releases deliver. Not only is the tangible product itself appealing to the eyes and of a high quality, but the manga itself is superb on every level. The heroine herself is so realistic that the reader can easily identify, sympathize, and relate to her... Having never read the original novel, I have no idea what surprises lie ahead but the premise and world that this volume has established makes picking up the remaining three volumes a no brainer. Grade: A+”
“PICK OF THE WEEK. This volume feels nostalgic and contemporary all at once… The real story driving this volume is Hikaru’s own personal journey and the beginnings of her tenuous connection to the other seven billion people with whom she shares the planet. I raced eagerly through the first volume the moment it turned up in my mailbox. For fans of character-driven sci-fi, 7 Billion Needles is a must-read.”
“It says a lot about Tadano’s writing that [intergalactic hunter] Horizon manages to have so much personality. This isn’t a story like Hikaru no Go where the mangaka offers readers a cute visualization for the voice in the protagonist’s head. Horizon is just a voice, text in speech bubbles, yet it has more personality than most actual characters with physical designs… The combination of horror, suspense, and humor gives it a ton of teen (and non-teen!) appeal, and its depiction of Hikaru’s teen disaffection feels very authentic. I can’t wait to read volume 2!”
—Joy Kim, Public Librarian
“Tadano’s artwork shows remarkable versatility in the way it captures scenes ranging from everyday school life to fantastical, superpowered combat… But these shiny bells and whistles are nothing without the story, one that has a surprisingly profound side lurking beneath the action. When shy, distant Hikaru is ordered to start communicating with her peers to help seek out the enemy, it says more about who she is as a person—and who we are as humans—than about the otherworldly turmoil going on around her.”
—Anime News Network
“Tadano made this science fiction story—with its monster-movie overtones, and a jolting dose of ultraviolence—mostly quiet and subdued, with a heroine who falls into none of the usual manga stereotypes. Hal Clement might have had a hard time seeing his story in this, but I think he would have appreciated those quiet moments, and the communications between Horizon and Hikaru.”
—Andrew Wheeler, Antick Musings
“The lack of easy outs keeps 7 Billion Needles fresh…and manages to bring the sixty-year-old story into the present day and an all new setting with aplomb. Hikaru is detached, but not to the point where it puts off the reader. She just comes across as a normal girl who is a little out of her depth in life, and a lot out of her depth when it comes to alien invasions… This is good stuff, and assuming the next three books maintain this level of quality, yet another entry in Vertical, Inc.’s stock of great manga.”
“This is a book where the cover tells you exactly what you’re in for… Reading 7 Billion Needles Vol. 1 reminded me in some ways of Parasyte, only in this case it’s less cartoonish and much creepier. And, with just a four-volume length, 7 Billion Needles already feels much more tight and focused. I came for the beautiful production design of 7 Billion Needles, but I’ll stay for the excellent story and art.”
—Read About Comics
“Maybe it was some failing that I didn’t figure it out earlier, but once the title’s meaning became evident, it became pretty brilliant… Informed by Hal Clement’s original, 7 Billion Needles has its own approach to the material. Reading the manga, I found myself not so much thinking about the other manga that it resembled as I was the novel… Few readers, regardless of whether their preferences are based in manga, sci-fi or more general, will be disappointed.”
—Ain’t It Cool News
“Let’s just say that it had meteoric impact, and I couldn’t stop myself from tearing through the book at lightning-fast pace… Nobuaki Tadano’s methods shine through, providing something you can’t put down. What carries the story, and provides most of the impact, is the art… It’s a great purchase for anyone who has an interest in non-tech heavy sci-fi material.”
“[Tadano’s] graphic storytelling style is clear and strong. His crisp linework and straightforward paneling allows readers to effortlessly follow the story—that’s not always a given, especially in action-driven stories like this… A solid and entertaining sci-fi seinen manga read that’s off to a good start. It’s worth picking up and worth sticking around to see what’ll happen next.”
“Tadano’s style of storytelling strikes a nice balance between words and pictures… His artwork leans toward ‘hard,’ with realistic and expressive faces, characters who all look different (except when the plot requires them to look alike) and detailed, photo-like backgrounds that are sometimes recognizable as specific places in Tokyo. The only problem is that each short volume is a very quick read, and Volume 3 won’t be out until February.”
“7 Billion Needles may be the most mainstream manga Vertical, Inc. has licensed for their lineup thus far. Mainstream and Vertical do not quite belong in the same sentence: these are the folks who gave us some of the best of Osamu Tezuka in English, and who couldn’t be the next VIZ even if they wanted to… This looks like it’s going to be a fun little ride.”
—Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press