Is it just me or are manga and anime chock full of school-based settings? It seems to be the go to due to its nature as a breeding ground of anxiety and teen melodrama. Now imagine that setting filled with zombies, a headmistress Nun who’s all sorts of creepy and a professor who’s discovered a new strain of zombie. Sounds pretty awesome, and the Marhawa Desire is definitely that and more.
Resident Evil, Vol. 2: The Marhawa Desire (Viz Media)
Two things drive this collection of mangas and the first is rather obvious: zombies and gore. There’s a lot of action in this series, in fact it’s mostly action sequences, so if you’re in need of some intense gore you’re in the right place. Zombies get their arms hacked off, arrows fly and there’s some rather sick hammer-to-zombie-head action in this volume. The second is the advent of a new type of zombie in the Resident Evil franchise. The fast running zombie is nothing new to the genre, and even to the series since Resident Evil 4, but in the 4th installment we were getting some kind of augmentation that allowed the zombies to speak. Not so here; we’re getting the classic zombie in a fast moving form. All that said, it’s the mystery of where they came from and how they transfer the infection that’ll drive you to turn the pages.
Writer Naoki Serizawa spends the first half of this volume getting our protagonists from point A to point B with plenty of zombie action. From there the story takes a surprising turn, unveiling a mystery of the origin of all this evil and it all comes from the school’s headmistress. We learn certain characters are loyal to her for a variety of reasons, and ultimately it’s nice soap opera material. The dialogue is a bit iffy in places, but the drama of the plot keeps things fresh enough to surprise and keep things interesting.
The art is by the same Serizawa and damn is it incredibly detailed. The gore is straight out of a film it’s so lifelike and the characters are very well rendered. Backgrounds get equal detail and they look fabulous. The only downside I can find in the art is the layouts, which don’t change up much across the 176 pages. This might be due to the smaller format of the manga, but it gets a little boring when yet another diagonal panel slashes across the page.
Overall this is a good second volume that can’t get out of its action-packed way for the first half but delivers an adequate amount of reveals and revelations in the second portion to keep things interesting.