This first volume of an intended 4 volume series by upand coming mangaka Nobuaki Tadano, and in turn based off of the American sci-fi novel Needle, by the late sci fi legend Hal clements, is released by US manga company Vertical [whose repertoire also include the works of manga godfather Osamu Tezuka].
We are introduced to Hikaru Takade – a quiet , introverted school girl who, after the death of her parents, and despite having loving step-parents, hides herself away from both them, her classmates and indeed the world at large via her headphones and music – both used brilliantly in representing her isolation.
However her self imposed isolation is violently ripped away from her when she is accidentally killed when the alien entity Horizon arrives on earth, whereupon Horizon is forced to bond with her to not only save her, but to survive in earth’s environment itself. Horizon also has the ability to grant Hikaru supernatural powers, like strength and energy blasts, all of which come in handy, as Hikaru has been thrust into a race against time to stop the malicious, world – threatening entity maelstrom.
Does she have what it take to save the very world that she wants to hide away from?
The first thing that struck me about 7 billion needles is its initial similarity to another, more famous Japanese series, namely the live action series Ultraman, and on the surface its plot does match it in ways – namely the fact that Horizon is forced to bond with Hikaru in part out of guilt for killing her, and for the sake of self preservation, and the fact that they both fight to stop a monster fresh from the sound lot of Toei studios.
And yet at the same time Nobuaki Tadano doesn’t ignore hikaru’s “normal” life and as the volume develops we see Hikaru gradually change, both in her interaction with the world but also with her fellow students – and what’s more there are also hints of further past history that, while not covered in too much detail in this volume, I definably get the impression that there’s more to be told.
And that’s what made me enjoy this the most – from the cover [with its penguin books like appearance] with its clear, well paced and almost movie-like pacing and illustration – to it dramatic climax – everything about this series screams excellence.
At the end of the day, with only three more volumes to go, I hope that Tadano can continue to maintain the quality of this first volume.
well? what are you waiting for? Get buying it now!