God’s Child (Kami No Kodomo)
Story and Art by Kyoudai Nishioka (duo)
Originally published by Ohtan Shuppan (2009)
Length: 1 Volume (11 Chapters)
“God’s Child” was a very intriguing, yet horrifying read. Though it wasn’t the most original story direction, a captivating protagonist and surprising amount of artistic depth led to a terrifying experience. In some instances, its angsty roots were identifiable throughout the manga, turning impenetrable walls into broken barriers.
The manga follows the life of a mesmerising serial killer. The reader watches as the boy advances from sociopathic tendencies to messiah-like murderer. The authors were able to encapsulate one of a psychopath’s most effective, and in the same sense, dangerous qualities; their charm. As the killer narrates the atrocities of his life, we can’t help but sympathise with him. He stresses to the reader how much he’s been through, and how the trauma he’s endured on this Earth has affected his future. Despite all the dismal acts, it instinctively feels like survival instead of amusement to the reader. Everything the killer does isn’t (always) out of boredom. If he didn’t commit these acts, he would cease to exist, or worse, be brought down to the standards of society. But what’s fascinating, and highly angsty, is his ultimate reason for behaviours. Revenge. In the first scene, the narrator makes it very clear that he’s life is an act of revenge in response to the ultimate betrayal of both his mother and god; his birth. For all his future suffering and endurances would not exist if he had been “digested in the womb”.
This manga isn’t powerful based on its accuracy. In fact, some may even describe the events portrayed in this manga as “poetic” as opposed to realistic scenes. I partly agree. The narrator does not paint this picture of his world with logical thought; it is with feelings. All these manifestations, the grotesque and horrifying imagery comes from his own skewed perception of reality. This manga attempts to answer a question that has been pondered by many; what does the mind of a serial killer look like? God’s Child gives an example through its pacing and flow. The story, based on how “our protagonist” is feeling, can be emotionally polarising or completely indifferent. He can be the embodiment of logic when he wants to, but just as easily divulge in his narcissistic tendencies. His consistent inconsistency, for some bizarre reason, is almost endearing. I enjoyed having a protagonist who never attempted to hide or parry his reasons for behaving, no matter how evil or embarrassing we may perceive them to be. While this extreme inward awareness leads to many interesting monologues, it does mean the manga’s writing is all telling and no showing. In saying that, the manga does have a completely different component which specialises in showing, that is, the art, and I enjoyed having a narrator tell us about him as opposed to ineffective verbal descriptions. And considering the art style, sometimes extra explanations were necessary.
The art in this manga was incredibly important, and provided a surprisingly aesthetic experience. It really is the guide on this journey; while pacing and characters may become inconsistent at times, the art helps the reader make sense of not only the world, but how other characters see it. Its abstract qualities created a disconnect between our reality and theirs, so not only were scenes less graphic, but a scene resembling that of a murderer’s perception. The abstract world building also implicitly alerts readers that the boundaries in this world are very different to ours, meaning the stories it can tell are equally as skewed. Not only does this peak the reader’s interest, but can also be a source of anxiety, as the experience is unpredictable.
The only weakness that I found with this manga was its depiction of others. This isn’t a soft and fluffy piece that explores the hypocrisy of modern society. It is a graphic rebellion of it. These acts of vengeance are also attempts at disrupting society at its core. It was only in these scenes where the killer turned from this romantic, omnipotent being into a gloomy outcast that acts out because others can’t understand him. To be honest, this character really had me under his spell. Sure, he is a romanticised killer living on the outskirts of normality, but his ability to share his vulnerabilities and yet simultaneously be impenetrable was a very appealing trait to posses. When he proclaimed himself to be the messiah, and had dozens of loyal followers beneath him, I could understand why. But as soon as he would discuss his hatred for society, he was humanised once again. He became a sad, frightened child whose inability to understand the world led to juvenile acts of frustration. He was no longer a detached being judging from a tower in the heavens. He was an adolescent throwing a tantrum. Despite what he says, his actions aren’t an attempt to distance himself from society. They are so he is cemented in it.
“God’s Child” is a deeply disturbing piece that allows readers to peer into the mind of a twisted being. From the point of conception to the point of death, we watch as our protagonist shapes his world with boredom, hypocrisy and skewed perceptions of reality. While he may be romanticised as this loner killer who just can’t get his head around the injustice within the world, I still found him quite captivating. I never loathed the character due to his twisted personality, but his inability to separate himself from society created a frustrating and angsty experience. This piece’s traumatising ending led to many days of reflection, and its grotesque imagery will remain with me for a very long time.
Art – 9
Story – 9
Writing – 8
Overall – 8.5/10