25 Days of Manga, Day 2 of 25 – Sadako at the End of the World (Review)

Publisher: Yen Press

Author/Artist: Koma Natsumi

Supervision: Koji Suzuki

Character Provision: Kadokawa

Translator: Caleb Cook

Letterer: Lys Blakeslee

Genre: Horror

Rating: OT (Older Teen/16+)

Release Date: 11/17/2020
MSRB: US $15.00 / CAN $19.50

Reviewer’s Note: I received a review copy of Sadako at the End of the World from Yen Press in exchange for an honest review of the volume. I was not compensated for my review, nor will I be compensated post-review. All manga reviews are spoiler-free and image-free unless noted in the review. Opinions are my own.

Welcome back to Day 2 of my participation in the 25 Days of Manga manga challenge! Looks like I’m back at it with more horror manga today: thankfully, this won’t be a trend. Still, I’m quite excited for this title, especially since its premise is quite unique! That being said, let’s dig in.

Sadako at the End of the World is a single volume manga set in an apocalypse. In a world torn apart and ripped asunder, two lonely little girls named Ai and Hii find a strange video that viewers of Ring will be quite familiar with. To their surprise, a girl with long, strongly black hair climbs out of the TV, not knowing that this girl -the titular Sadako- will kill them in a week! Thus starts their adventure in a ruined world.

In many ways, I found myself thinking of Girls’ Last Tour, especially in regards to the mood of this series: Sadoka, Ai, and Hii-chan travel through a ruined world together, meandering aimlessly towards some destination. For them, it’s a city and people. For Sadako, it’s anyone who she can lay her curse upon. It’s quite haunting, which suits the atmosphere of this single volume.

Unlike Mieruko-chan, my first read of the holidays, Sadako at the End of the World also strategically reminds you that it is a horror in quite gruesome ways. While it never goes full gore, characters die: that’s what it means to encounter Sadoka and receive her curse. The story never lays it on thick: instead, the reminders that Sadako is going to kill the girls -and has killed before- feels like a good accent instead of a joke.

Yet there’s something so heart-warming about seeing such a vengful ghost protecting two kids as they try to seek out any humans left in the world. There’s something so lovely about seeing Sadako form a deep attachment to Ai, the oldest of the girls. There’s something so charming about seeing her communicate using an iPad. It’s all very peaceful, despite the fact that this is a genuine horror manga.

In fact, peace reigns in this rather haunting story about Sadako being just a girl. It’s quite lovely to see such a notable character depicted as being a strange girl. Sadako even gets a haircut and treatment, which struck me as particularly funny: you don’t think of such a powerful ghost getting shampoo’d!

Art-wise, this volumes is beautiful. Like I said, it reminded me a lot of Girls’ Last Tour, which also has really lovely art. The art feels incredibly warm, which only helps to make your stomach drop when you realize Sadako is going to put the “horror” back in horrific. Actually, Sadako was one of my favorite parts of the art: she’s drawn excellently, and always looks a little shabby. It helps to remind the reader that while Sadako was once a girl, she’s no longer a normal girl. She’s a vengeful ghost that’s weathered a lot.

While the story ends on quite the spooky high note -and I do mean spooky- it’s still ar eally nice found family story that I highly recommend reading it, even knowing that there’s no truly “happy” end for this story. I also recommend reading it whether or not you’re a fan of Truth be told, I really, really liked Sadako at the End of the World. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but it really got me in the end, enough that I teared up, even as I got shocked by the final panel.

This really is a special manga. I’m so glad I read this release: it’ll be on my shelves for a long time.

On to the next read!

TL;DR: Sadako at the End of the World is a sweet, heart-warming story about found family in a ruined world. It’s a unique take on The Ring and Sadako: instead of being constantly menacing, she’s just a girl who spends some time with Ai and Hii-chan…until she’s not. The emphasis on horror and found family are an engaging mix that leaves the reader feeling warm and haunted at the same time, as are the found family elements. While the ending is quite heartbreaking, the story is still sweet, offering a more optomistic look at a famous horror character.

Read If You Like…
*Mild Horror
*Found Family
*Female Friendships
*Alternative takes on Ring/The Ring and Sadako

Rating:★★★★½ / 4.5 out of 5 stars
Bingo Card: “Star”

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