“I Am A Hero” follows a mentally unhinged manga artist named Hideo Suzuki. He is downtrodden and a bit dumpy, and has an emotionally abusive girlfriend who is an alcoholic. “I Am A Hero” is basically an extreme underdog story. Much like in real life, there are underlying hints of the escalating danger in the background. It is revealed in the news, or just people talking in the background, that people are getting bitten. It's an interesting comment on the author's part, to note how easy it is for people to live in their own bubble and not notice the warning signs around them.
The book, originally published in Japan in 2009 was republished in 2016, by Dark Horse in an omnibus of volumes one and two.
Kengo Hanazawa's first work was a manga called “Boys on the Run,” which had a publishing run from 2005 to 2008, but sadly, during that time, it was never published in English. In 2016, Dark Horse published “I Am A Hero” in English and is still ongoing with five omnibus volumes. Kengo Hanazawa also wrote three “I Am A Hero” spinoff manga titled, “I Am A Hero in Osaka;” ““I Am A Hero in Ibiraki;” and “I Am A Hero in Nagasaki.” The three spinoff manga are set in the same world and time period as the original, but in different parts of Japan during the apocalypse, and with different characters but none of these were ever published in English.
The main character is unique in that his mental instability makes him more aware of supernatural creatures. He is one of the only people in Japan with an actual firearm, because he fears one day he will need it to protect himself against the unnatural. While walking home from work one day, Hideo witnesses a girl being hit by a car. The owner of the car gets out to help her, and she bites him while he is calling an ambulance. She doesn't kill him though. She then walks away with a mangled leg and her head snapped backwards. This was one of the first sightings of the yet-to-come zombie apocalypse. Soon after, all of Japan is swarming with these creatures, and Hideo is determined to survive.
“I Am A Hero” is an amazing manga with a unique story and characters, and is without a doubt the greatest zombie manga of all time.
Olivia Gelerman, 11, is the curator of several hundred works of manga, anime and graphic novels that can be found in a book collection for sale of 47 West. Her knowledge of these genres is extensive and she is happy to recommend certain books for tween and teen readers. Her monthly book review (Manga 101) appears exclusively in Penobscot Bay Pilot.