Media Meltdown

Over the last decade or so it seems as if the following controversy has been circulating in the news over and over again: freedom of speech and freedom of the press be curtailed if the government decides that there’s a potential threat to national security? And with that in mind, to what extent does the public have a right to know about what goes on behind closed doors in Washington?

In Vertical’s latest novel, Fallout, Tetsuo Takashima takes on these hot-button issues while delivering an observant, fast-paced thriller that will draw readers in from first word to last.

The two disturbing events happen almost simultaneously on opposite sides of the country  An editor at a small-town newspaper in California receives an envelope in the mail containing a diagram for making a nuclear bomb; and a political writer at The Washington Post has a message from “Mr. Curly” waiting for him when he gets to work. Twelve hours later, presidential adviser Frank Curly is found dead on a Washington, D.C. park bench, an apparent suicide.

As the journalists dig deeper into these seemingly unrelated mysteries, each discovers that things are not at all what they seem, and the connection between the two events could have far-reaching and terrifying consequences. And given the state of journalism and how at times it appears to be making the news itself, Fallout may describe much more than Washington’s doomsday scenarios. It may be the conclusion for modern news media, as well.

Game Changer

With school violence and bullying hot topics in today’s media there are no doubts as to why Keiko Suenobu’s Limit has captivated a growing audience. Scenes of shallow high school society that everyone has lived through has been eliminated from memory, as a dire, desperate world becomes fully realized through the pages of Suenobu’s comic. Limit deconstructs the relationships between teenagers and presents them in a setting where focusing on the superficial aspects of them will result death. Far away from their comfort zones, these girls might not survive this ordeal if they don’t survive each other. Unlike in high school, there’s no home for them to return to.

In this third volume, Morishige, the scythe wielding bully victim turned maniac dictator of the group, has lost her power, as one of her “underlings” has run off with her weapon. So will the other remaining girls in this Lord Of The Flies-esque situation forgive her for her dangerous actions or will they condemn her for what she’s done? The group’s dynamic is further changed once another survivor appears. However, the newest addition is not only a male, but also someone who’s been disgusted by how the group acted so far and begins to make a positive impact.

Keiko Suenobu is no stranger to writing manga that addresses the darker issues facing today’s youth. She isn’t afraid to put her characters in adverse situations to get into the thick of them and develop engaging narratives around them. Every moment in this unconventional shojo manga (girls comic) is chilling, making Limit one gripping and unforgettable ride every reader should take. Which is why rare shojo thrillers like Limit are poised to revitalize the shojo market at a time when the sector needs it the most.

Into the Darkness

Another year and with it comes another set of releases. Our first release of the year is oddly apt for these dark days of winter. Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil has earned critical acclaim since its debut last year. However, whatever naïve and almost disturbingly cheerful narrative may have developed throughout the first arc of this series will quickly be erased as Oshimi’s cast willingly dive deep into the darkness to create a world uniquely their own.

Volume four of The Flowers of Evil finds the panty stealing nervous wreck of a protagonist Takao as a new person. No, he didn’t shape up after trying to run away backfired. Instead of reforming, after burning his bridge with the former girl of his dreams Saeki, Takao openly accepts his new life as a “filthy pervert.” However, his recent actions have left class-bully Miss. Nakamura more than a bit disappointed. As a matter of fact, she wants nothing to do with the once bookish teen. Will they ever be able to reconnect, or will not even committing an act of graver indecency than ever before be enough for Nakamura to give out a second chance?

Contrary to what the media may be propagating recently The Flowers of Evil continues to boldly break convention and says it’s okay it’s okay to reject society’s values. So this year, instead of making resolutions that will never be kept, why not attempt something that may come naturally to a well read manga enthusiast and regularly partake in our guilty pleasure known as The Flowers of Evil.