7 Billion Needles, Vol. 2 + 3
by Nobuaki Tadano
7 Billion Needles, the sci-fi series from Nobuaki Tadano continues with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at! The battle between Hikaru, now fused with the alien entity known as Horizon, and the alien entity Maelstrom reaches its climax. Following the battle Hikaru returns to the island of her youth as events from her past come back to haunt her in a rather unexpected manner. From there the tale takes some truly insane and unexpected twists in the penultimate volume.
After the solid set up from the first volume, Hikaru’s life just gets progressively weirder and the story becomes far more complex in these volumes. Hikaru’s relationship with her two new friends ends up taking a back seat while the emotional issues that led to her being stand offish and uncomfortable around others are revealed. This was a little disappointing as watching her interact and reconnect with her peers was highly enjoyable and led to some comedically awkward moments as well. Certain twists occur towards the end of the second volume which could lead to some more comedic gems in the third, but instead the third volume spins off into much weirder and more confusing sci-fi territory as evolution runs amok. With this move the series really seems to veer away from the quiet, character driven moments that made the first volume so enjoyable. Nobuaki Tadano does attempt to maintain some of the emotional momentum of the first two volumes, but with all the sci-fi insanity going on in the third volume it just didn’t click for me. It almost feels like he lost interest in Hikaru and her supporting cast and decided to pursue some “big ideas” instead. There were also a few moments where some dialogue seems surprisingly awkward and I was left wondering what Tadano was attempting to say with them.
While the story shifts gears quite dramatically, thankfully the artwork doesn’t. It’s still as nicely detailed and wonderful to look at as it was in the first volume. With the quieter moments becoming scarce in the later portions of these books, the action sequences begin to take center stage and they don’t disappoint. Nobuaki Tadano’s artwork also does a great job at conveying the characters emotional state through their facial expressions, even during fast paced conflict. The freakish creatures that pop up within both of the volumes are fairly interesting and a few are quite weird and horrific to behold as well. If that wasn’t enough there continues to be nicely detailed backgrounds throughout, giving the entire thing a strong sense of place and adding a little something to the weight of it’s fictional reality. Not to mention some nice depictions of massive property damage too.
While 7 Billion Needles takes some truly unexpected turns over the span of these two volumes, I’m not entirely sure they’re for the best. There are interesting and unexpected developments, that’s for sure, I really felt like they cam at the cost of emotional core of the story and Hikaru’s growth. Still, it’s undeniably interesting and certainly carries a strong sense of anything could happen and it did leave me wishing I had the fourth and final volume already just so I could find out how it all ends.
7 Billion Needles, Vol. 2 + 3 are available now from Vertical, Inc.