After an exciting first seven volumes, the second half of the Zombie-Loan manga series does not disappoint. Our reluctant heroine, Michiru, is still hunting illegal zombies along with her Z-loan colleagues, the legal zombies Chika and Shito. Meanwhile, surprises keep cropping up and secrets are revealed. Michiru and pals learn about Shito’s origin and his connections to a group of Chinese mobsters, uncover the backgrounds of the legal zombies who work for competing company A-Loan, and finally discover the motives of the mysterious Ferrymen who operate both Z-Loan and A-Loan.
In volumes eight through thirteen, we get a lot of background: characters’ origin stories and information about how their world works. Most of it centers on the Akashic Record, a kind of semi-magical supercomputer-like entity that maintains order in the universe. The Ferrymen are supposed to preserve the integrity of this record, which begins to break down due to paradox — inconsistencies between what’s written in the record and what actually happens. One common inconsistency, it seems, is the existence of illegal zombies. Thus the creation of Z-Loan and A-Loan to make things nice and neat by keeping the dead folks dead. But Michiru also has a connection to the Akashic Record, one she won’t understand until the truth of her past is finally explained.
The art, as one might expect, is a lot like the art in the first seven volumes. The characters are willowy and well-accessorized, the way manga characters are wont to be, and there are a couple of cute little chibi characters hanging around. (Apparently, if someone takes your “core,” a mystical energy center, you lose a lot of your power and, as a side effect, become tiny and adorable.) There is some nudity, but not in a sexual context, and no genitals or nipples are ever visible. The story is action-packed, with a lot of fighting but not an excessive amount of gore.
There is less profanity in the second half of the series, and we seem to have said goodbye to the cringe-inducing rape comments that pop up once or twice early in the story. The characters often find themselves in dire straits, but now that they’ve come to care about each other and are better able to work together, there’s less infighting. (Well, there’s still infighting, but now it’s mostly played for laughs.)
There is a brief mention of Biblical verses early in the manga, and the theme crops up again toward the end of the series, though in heavily-adapted ways. Certain characters are found to be “children of Elizabeth” — results of a medical experiment which wreaked havoc with the Akashic Record. These children are repeatedly likened to children of the Elizabeth who bore John the Baptist, and some explicit parallels are made between certain characters and Biblical figures. This comes across more as flavor than an attempt to fit the series into a Biblical frame or give it Christian significance.
I won’t give away the ending, of course, but it’s clever and interesting. Teens who like complex stories, a little mythology, and a lot of action will devour Zombie-Loan.
Zombie-Loan, volumes 8-13
Vol. 8 ISBN: 9780759530973
Vol. 9 ISBN: 9780759530980
Vol. 10 ISBN: 9780759530997
Vol. 11 ISBN: 9780316177979
Vol. 12 ISBN: 9780316178006
Vol. 13 ISBN: 9780316204682
Yen Press, 2010-2012
Publisher Age Rating: OT (Older Teen)