My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m finding No 6 intriguing. I’m not a fan of dystopias but this one is working for me. I think in part because it hasn’t reduced women to the role of sexual chattel like most of them do. Granted there aren’t many women in it. There aren’t many characters period. It’s fairly tightly focused on Rat and Shion.
Shion nearly died at the end of the first volume stung by something that he had seen take a coworker. He watched that man age decades and die a desiccated mummy in a matter of moments then a black bee burst out of his neck, a fact he manages to convey to Rat before he blacked out.
Volume two opens with Shion finally regaining consciousness quite a while later. He’d gotten feverish and woke up to find his body entwined with a red snake ‘tattoo’ (which so far there’s no explanation for that) and his hair gone white. Rat had dug the thing out of Shion’s neck and it was some kind of chrysalis.
Once Shion recovers, Rat takes him out into the slums to introduce him to his new reality and to toughen Shion up. Also Rat had taken it on himself to contact Shion’s mother through his mechanical rats and she has given them a place to meet, a place he’s never heard of.
So their venture out is two-fold, to find clues to the meeting site and to educate Shion who does rather poorly. He grew up in the so-called utopia of No. 6 and is used to non-violence and honesty, things he will not find here. He’s also very sexually naïve (as seen with his would-be girlfriend in vol.1)
There is a strange, strong bond between the two young men (and there is a hint of bromance or outright sexual attraction depending on who’s reading this. For a moment, I wondered if Rat is really male, especially when we learn his avocation from a reporter who was around before the world went to hell. There is a good dollop of world history in this and we get to meet interesting characters, like a young woman known only as Dogkeeper who runs a former hotel as a hotel still for the homeless. If they can scrape up enough money they get a room, otherwise they sleep in the hall and she sends her dogs to keep them warm. It seems as if she can actually communicate with them which is also not explained (as in words since her dogs bring her information. She’s also an information broker).
It ends with the would-be girlfriend seeing Shion’s face on a wanted poster and being horrified. And with some scientists talking about getting their experiment back, assuming it’s Rat (and that he really is male). Rat’s world is violent (Shion nearly got sexually molested and/or killed on two separate occasions on one day) and interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more.
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