Koukai no Naraku

One Shot
2008
2.987 out of 5 from 48 votes
Rank #32,510
Koukai no Naraku

A boy jumps off a building ready to end it all.

Source: MU

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nathandouglasdavis
2

What is hell? Is it a singular experience which is the same for all participants? Or are there various circles and segmented areas which individualize the experiences of the participants to some degree? And can the cruelty associated with hell (or, honestly, any post-life punishments) actually be considered just or justified if the participants were unaware while alive that their actions would lead to the hellscapes they then get dropped into? Short answer to all of those questions: "Hell isn't real." And the idea of hell is only used as a manipulative tool to try to scare people into conforming to certain moral ideals. In the case of this particular six-page manga which I'm reviewing, the author is using the idea of a post-death abyss to push the idea that suicide isn't worth it. The story's structure creates a sense of poetic justice, where the punishment fits the "crime," and this type creative structural cohesion can be entertaining to read if done right. But I'm not sure if this manga achieves to do it right. And the largest reason for that is that the implicit eternal nature of the punishment doesn't feel like it's a fitting consequence of people killing themselves, so the "poetic justice" doesn't actually feel like poetic justice and instead just comes across as exaggerated fear-stoking and even preachiness. It's the old idea that finite sins shouldn't lead to infinite punishments, and any system which allows for such a thing is unjust and should be abhorred. Does this function well as a horror manga, though? Well, maybe, but only in the sense that any sort of neverending torture is inherently unnerving and scary, so it's not really a very interesting hook. And the author doesn't even do that good of a job of evoking the discomfort of the characters themselves.

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