Ever since he was young, Keidai Saeki could remember his past life. In 79 A.D., he was the roman soldier Sirix, living in the city of Pompeii. Everyone around him, his parents, and his best friend, Mii Serizawa, are also reincarnations of people from Pompeii. Keidai’s problem is, he is the only person who remembers these past lives. No one understands what he’s talking about. They just think he’s a little strange. But when his reincarnated wife finally appears as Yuuma, the boy next door, Keidai can only describe his life as "no good."
NG Life Volume 1
By Mizuho Kusanagi
Age Rating: Teen (13+)
Tokyopop, March 2009, ISBN: 978-1-4278-1445-6
224 pgs., $10.99
This title is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but the romantic drama takes over the chapters more often than not. The comedy comes mostly at Keidai’s expense, as he deals with Serizawa and Yuuma, both of whom are the opposite genders from their past lives. This gender bending is supposed to create comedic moments, as Keidai treats Serizawa as another guy buddy, and Yuuma as his wife. Instead, the ensuing awkward moments lead to dramatic confrontations between Keidai, Serizawa and Yuuma. Any humor that might come from these moments is short-lived and weak at best. It’s hard to keep laughing when one of the characters is angry or in tears by the next page.
The pace of the story is uneven, and it doesn’t seem to be heading in a specific direction. With a lot of the emphasis on Serizawa’s feelings for Keidai, it’s not until the end that you realize the purpose of this volume was meant to bring the three back together and re-establish their friendship. The characters of Serizawa and Yuuma are well written, as are their past life personas of Loleus and Serena respectively. Keidai, and his yearning to have Sirix’s life back made him less interesting. He wasn’t a very sympathetic character, as he causes most of the problems because of his refusal to let go of the past. Even though they spend most of their time at odds with each other, when the three of them work together, the story seems to come together.
The flashbacks and dreams of Ancient Rome are interesting, and make up some of the best scenes in the book. The close friendship of Sirix, Serena and Loleus is plain. Sirix’s farewell to Serena just as Vesuvius is erupting is especially touching. The Ancient Rome story line could easily make a good series in and of itself.
There is nothing overtly objectionable in this title. There is some cartoon violence, with Keidai getting punched by Serizawa and Yuuma several times. The cross dressing is kept to a minimum, usually to either help Keidai out of a bad date, or manipulate him into doing acting in a play, and Yuuma does not enjoy it at all.
Overall, I liked reading NG Life. The characters and story make it intriguing enough to want to check out, though I think calling it a comedy is a bit of a stretch. It’s biggest problem was holding my interest. At the start of some of the chapters, my interest would start to wane, but the strong endings would draw me back in. The romantic drama and frustrating romance will probably appeal to some girls, but its uneven pacing, and lack of laugh out loud comedy may keep it from flying off shelves.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Tokyopop.