Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Drifting Classroom

This week the last volume of The Drifting Classroom (#11), the horror manga by Kazuo Umezu, came out and I'm happy to report that the ending was a worthy one. The Drifting Classroom is about a grade school that ends up vanishing from the city and ends up existing in a world in which some catastrophe has occurred making said world a barren, harsh, alien place to live. The Drifting Classroom volumes are shrinkwrapped, but really the horror isn't as explicit as the Berserk manga. The horror in The Drifting Classroom is three-fold: firstly the cast of characters are just kids with very few adults around other than the teachers and staff at the school, secondly they don't know if and how their school and they themselves will ever return to the world as they knew it, and thirdly they are living in a hostile environment that makes just surviving difficult.
The Drifting Classroom was done by Kazuo Umezu something like thirty years ago, but if I didn't know this from reading notes on the manga, I never would have guessed that it wasn't a new production - that's the mark of a great work of art. I always go into reading a last volume or chapter of a series with some concern that the pay off will not live up to the stories build up. So I'm happy when upon finishing a series like The Drifting Classroom, it has an ending that doesn't just wander off or not even really conclude, rather it enhances everything that's come before and you know that you'll be revisiting that story again.

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