365 Days of Manga, Day 16: Variante


VarianteVARIANTE ???????? • Iqura Sugimoto • CMX (2007-2008) • Kadokawa Shoten (Dragon Age, 2004-2006) • 4 volumes • Shônen, Action, Horror • 18+ (infrequent language, graphic violence, brief partial nudity)
15-year-old Aiko miraculously survives an attack by “Chimeras,” grotesque mutant blobs which murder her parents. Somehow her injured arm picks up the Chimera trait, and develops a sort of mute mind of its own, gushing forth into a wave of slimy flesh that tears other Chimeras apart. Taken into custody by the mysterious biotech corporation Atheos, Aiko grows from a crying wreck into a determined human weapon against Chimeras, but what is the true nature of the mutants? (As the sinister lady scientist says, “As long as she finds some reason to live through fighting monsters, that’s enough, isn’t it?”) Dark and gory (mostly just due to the “heap of ground beef” appearance of the Chimeras), Variante has a few good plot twists but falls apart at the end. The “evil corporation” plot is predictable, and the grim but rushed ending reinforces the feeling that the whole thing is a sort of gray mopefest.
** (two stars)
This is one of those manga whose protagonist is so emo and paralyzed by doubt, it could never have happened without “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” I love “Evangelion”, but I’m not certain that its influence on manga and anime was a good one.
Today’s winner is Jason B. of Rhode Island! Congratulations, Jason! Related to “Variante” and the horror genre, I have a confession to make — your whole state makes me think of the horror genre because H.P. Lovecraft lived there. Send us a photo of yourself with your manga when you get it!