Author: Usamaru Furuya
Publisher: Manga Erotics F
First Published: March 20, 2002
Genres: Horror, Psychological
Source: Read Online
Suicide Club is a manga based on a movie of the same title, written and directed by Sion Sono. At first, the manga was intended to follow the same story, but Sion Sono asked Usamaru Furuya to adapt his own story to it, which resulted in a plot much easier to understand.
The story begins with the same opening scene, where 54 girls commit suicide by jumping in front of a moving train. However, one girl survives (Saya Kota) and opens another Suicide Club, with other victims. Her best friend, Kyoko, fears for Saya’s future and begins to search for the strange secrets surrounding the Suicide Club to try and save Saya and the other girls from committing such a tragedy again.
Based off of the cult film, Suicide Club, the distressing nature of this manga hits the reader hard and fast. A stunning thriller that is difficult to put down, I ended up reading it in one sitting. The story follows Kyoko as she watches the descent of her childhood best friend, Saya, the only survivor of mass suicide. Kyoko finds herself pulled deeper into the mysteries of a suicide cult as she attempts to save Saya.
“How do you relate to yourself?”
The scary part of this manga isn’t the gore, though it is very gory. No, the real horror here is psychological. Saya and the other girls of the suicide circle are suffering from depression, feeling that they have no one that they can talk to. It is this feeling of isolation that pulls them into a terrifying sisterhood where they can share each other’s pain. The group quickly becomes a mob driven insane with devotion to each other, like a hive.
I think that the concept for this manga was good, and it deals very directly with the dangers of apathy. It’s easy to become tangled up in our own lives and neglect the people closest to us that need help. It’s clear from the beginning that Saya was severely depressed. Kyoko witnesses it but becomes too busy with her personal life to address Saya’s issues until she is already too far gone.
Despite my praise, I do feel that this manga is lacking in some aspects. While the story is about Saya, it is told from the point of view of Kyoko, limiting the narrative. Saya acts out and starts doing terrible things because she is depressed which in turn makes her life worse, but why or what caused the depression isn’t clear. There is a gap between the normal Saya that Kyoko remembers from childhood and the outright psychotic Saya of the present, and the lack of steady development in between is disjointing and doesn’t feel consistent. I would have liked for more time to be taken to develop the two main characters.
Overall though, I had a hard time deciding how to feel about this manga. I initially didn’t care for it due to the poor character development, but after letting the story settle in my mind for a few hours, I ended up liking it more for the sheer insanity of the cult which makes this manga really stand out. I watched a little bit of the movie and I’m not sure if I want to watch all of it since it felt a little campy, but I feel that the manga is a good adaptation and a solid entry into the horror genre.
Warnings: violence, death, bullying