Cyborgs are tricky things – they can either be soulless, menacing villains or mirrors of humanity struggling to reconcile a technologically driven program with a desire to mimic humanity. Used to discuss epic questions about souls and identity, people altered into cyborgs or cyborgs striving to be human are frequent characters in manga and anime. Kazemichi is one of the most poignant examples of a technologically enchanced person, a riveting combination of human yearning and cold machine programming. Kazemichi’s life was fated cut short by a horrific car accident. His survival, however, was guaranteed by rebuilding his body from organs inside to skin outside, all without his knowledge or consent. Kazemichi returns to consciousness with a body cobbled together from experimental artificial parts and the remnants of his mutilated frame. Once reconstructed, these parts cannot be replaced and will slowly malfunction beyond repair, leaving Kazemichi with a limited extension on life. But at what cost? He struggles to take chances, spark his elusive emotions, and most importantly find love with a young woman Juri before his time once again runs out. When most of your parts are plastic and steel, no matter how seamless and invisible they are to other people, can you be human anymore? If you can feel neither pain nor caresses, does your life count as real?
Made in Heaven creates a melancholy, sensual, and edgy alternate world that will appeal to older teens who want their science fiction to ask tough, perhaps unanswerable questions about what scientific innovation might sacrifice in its quest for extending life. The fluid art reflects the simmering tone of the tale, building tension slowly with glimpsed expressions and careful pacing. Although this volume stands alone, the complementary volume Made in Heaven: Juri illuminates the same tale from Juri’s point of view adding context and new puzzles to the story.
Made in Heaven: Kazemichi
by Ami Sakurai