Review: Believers

Believers
Let us work hard for our “Compatriots”!

Author
Naoki Yamamoto

Status
Two Volumes – Completed

Plot Summary
On a small island somewhere near Japan, three cult members have devoted themselves to the “Deserted Island Program”. Calling each other by rank, these people-two men and one women-have been chosen by their superiors to throw off the corrupt influence of modern society and “purify” themselves. But as time passes two of the members begin to give into human desire.

Personal Opinion
I don’t quite know what to call this series. It’s quite well thought out, and takes a strange point of view. This manga centers around a cult that brings out the strange in strange, taking pious to a new level. The characters are realistic, although completely immersed in the overly-virtuous views of the “Smiley Face Society”. A dark and cruel thing taking on a simple guise…

It can be somewhat disturbing at times – especially when the views of the group are shown in force. The group is relentless in it’s ideals. It is explained that their methods of operation will eventually cause not only a reduction, but a complete removal of the line between dream and reality. Members of the group are brought into the practice of reciting the previous night’s dreams for hours, up until the point where they are vivid and clear. Ritual takes a heavy role in the group, as does self-punishment. Some reach the point of death. Most touch insanity. Members have to agree to abstinence, to only eat food that has been “purified” beforehand, and be give all free will to the “Master”. Most views push members to mental extremes, causing them to lose grip on what used to be dear to them. All are pushed into exclusion, and into the belief that not only the modern world, but all it’s people are “filthy”, not even worthy of life itself. That itself brings through a strange view on existence – one only possible in such a cult. Members eventually succumb to the belief that all ideals other than those of the “Master” are idiotic and false. All of this is to reach the “Land of Comfort”, a place of untold bliss and reverence. Of course, such a place does not exist. It remains unclear throughout the entire manga. The entire group is in constant awe of a person they often never live to see. The so called “Master” answers all their questions from afar, and beguiles them with his views.

As I’ve said above, the characters are realistic above all else. They are the human mind pushed into a corner, they are an attempt at a working form. They’re situated on an island, one of which is entirely deserted. They are left with irregular food shipments, and prayer. The deserted island theme is used well. It gives way to dramatic, psychological, and physical tension. The views of the “Compatriots” allow the minds of the characters to slip further and further into insanity, as they push even the simplest thoughts into the classification of “sin”. A dream in which one participates in an activity deemed unwholesome is more than worthy of punishment. Such a fact causes the characters to hide the simplest of thoughts, which is worthy of a more extreme punishment. All this creates deceit, self-doubt, and makes the characters question the motives of the “Compatriots”. Some characters eventually leave such motives behind. These characters make this series what it is.

The only downside I would say this manga has is the choice to include random and pointless sex. Many aspects of the story tend to be smothered by it’s inclusion. I’d have to say it loses major points in my books for that reason alone – the majority of it [one or two scenes as exceptions] can be defined as nothing other than fanservice. I wouldn’t go as far as to classify those scenes as hentai [although I am a bit desensitized], but they’re still there…pointless, useless sex. It gets excessive at points [a full (albeit short) chapter as example], but that’s it. The rest of the story is pure glory.

This is a manga that anyone looking for something different, dark, and downright strange would enjoy. As long as they don’t mind a good bit of pointless sex scenes. Which I certainly don’t enjoy on any level myself, but I found the rest of the manga to be superb. It’s well worth reading!

Personal Rating
8/10.

[Reviewer: Simon A. Blake]

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