I Am A Hero returns in its 4th manga omnibus. It is published by Dark Horse and includes chapters 69 to 93. The omnibus has been well-translated by Dark Horse and comes complete with translation notes.
Just letting you know right off the bat, the omnibus has a few poorly colored illustrations. But that minor gripe said, if you like dystopian zombie apocalypses with a brutal and psychotic brand of realism, I Am A Hero has everything you need. This omnibus will keep you enthralled as the craziness of the ZQNs (zombies) below is equaled by the people Hideo meets atop a mall.
Spoiler warning for those not having reached this chapter yet!
Hideo, Hiromi and Mr. Araki have become part of a group of survivors atop a mall. One of the survivors, Yabu a nurse, becomes the unlikely ally. She offers unsettling and expected advice – don’t trust anyone there. The mall group has its own hierarchy, politics and power-struggles.
Hideo has to find out who to trust but his social awkwardness and lack of awareness stunts his ability to make good judgements. Few of the group are willing to help him at all. His shotgun becomes a political tool that promises rule to he who holds it unbeknownst to Hideo. In this arc, ZQNs become the least of Hideo’s problems.
The story is great at creating drama and humor where it needs to be without overly doing so. A joke or scene is never overdone and that is something quite enjoyable to see. The parts where a death is so matter of fact is sometimes far more shocking and depressing than an orchestrated one.
Such scenes are realistic and keep with the overall tone of the manga. An uncaring world for uncaring souls so to speak, hey?
Minor characters in the mall become keystones for the plot as their decisions ultimately decide the fate of Hideo.
Hideo is our awkward main character. He has an unexpected noble spirit but his mental state has left him withdrawn and a little naive. He’s weird and sometimes needs to talk to himself to figure things out. Hideo also maintains lawful practice with his firearm which often comes across as humorous.
Hiromi in her partial ZQN state provides us with a surreal perspective into being a ZQN. She sees people as disturbing stuffed animals and is unaware of her surroundings. She often sees herself in a playground, keeping up this “child” metaphor.
Yabu is a stern yet well-meaning person. She seems most trustworthy of the group and her experience as a nurse has made her sympathize with Hideo and Hiromi. Unfortunately, being a woman in the mall group has taken its toll on her.
Iura is the cool level-headed thinker and leader of the mall group. His bow gun has put him at the top but with Hideo’s arrival things have changed.
Sango was a social outcast and failure before the ZQN pandemic. Now that society has fallen Sango has become part of Iura’s group and attained a status far beyond what he would have had. This power has given him ambition and at times he is more cunning than initially thought.
The art, as usual, is scarily real and unashamed of itself. Kengo Hanazawa’s horrific depictions of ZQNs mauling people or being eerie are top-notch. To bring to life these types of strange zombies without being amusing takes a careful hand.
I’d say a good job was done here, as framing and close-ups are well used to depict distance and atmosphere. Hanazawa also gives no special treatment to humans. They can be as ugly or unassuming as needs be yet can still have an identity.
However, the few color pages were done quite amateurishly I think. Either they should have remained monotone or been left out completely. Colors used are far too bright and there is too little contrast for them to be any good.
I Am A Hero’s 4th omnibus is a thrilling and disturbing continuation of the story. The action is balanced out with the dialogue and pacing is kept steady. An interesting art direction shows fresh takes on survivors’ lives. It provides a glimpse into the types of survivor groups forming.
The difficulties of taking care of a large amount of different kinds of people are apparent. Tough decisions are made and cruel actions are taken to keep some sort of structure. Hideo is once again in an uncomfortable situation with sinister people and must try his best to keep Hiromi safe.
I Am A Hero Omnibus #4
Release Date: July 26th, 2017
Format: Graphic novel
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Written by: Kengo Kanazawa
Illustrated by: Kengo Hanazawa