ES: Eternal Sabbath Vol. 2 (Del Rey)

Owing more to supernatural horror series like Elfen Lied and Boogiepop Phantom, ES shows readers just how dangerous genetic experimentation can be. Del Rey; 240 Pages B/W; $10.95

(W: Fuyumi Soryo)

Continuing the story of scientist Mine Kujyou's struggle to track down, and destroy, the escaped psychic Isaac before he endangers the world, Fuyumi Soryo's ES Vol. 2 leads Mine and companion Sakaki to Tachibana Elementary, where Isaac has already taken the life of one of its students. Part-Akira, part-Bladerunner, this story is anything but the typical schoolgirl-infested manga.

The cover to ES Vol. 2 by Fuyumi SoryoOwing more to supernatural horror series like Elfen Lied and Boogiepop Phantom, ES shows readers just how dangerous genetic experimentation can be. For the hornballs looking for cheap upskirts and gi-huge-ant boobs, sorry folks, you won't find that here. Aside from the suggested lesbian relationship between Mine and her friend Kimiko, Soryo leaves most of the action above the waist, challenging Mine with a seemingly overpowering foe.

Lucky for Mine that the scientists who created the emotionally-deprived Isaac also created Shuro, a nurtured child who, remarkably enough, has the exact same psychic powers as Isaac. He even shares Mine's desire to destroy Isaac, even if it's only out of a sense of self-preservation. While it may sound a bit simplistic, Soryo actually manages to keep readers' attention through her careful exploration of the relationship between Isaac and Shuro.

At some points, the paneling seems a bit shaky, the transitions working against the story, but when it's fluid, especially in chapter eleven's "A Victim" Soryo's art is impressive. Not only does she maintain a healthy amount of tension, but she manages to leak just enough horror without going overboard into a gore fest. Del Rey's key to honorifics and customs is also a welcome addition that will ensure gaijins get the most accurate sense of the relationships between characters.

The book is definitely one to check out for those readers who don't really care for manga. No sword-wielding samurais or uber-cutesy anthropomorphized animals in here, just people dealing with a seemingly insurmountable threat despite their frailty, and the relationships that grow because of it. A book that will certainly expand readers' definitions of manga.

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