A Castrophe Report (Shuumatsu no tenki)
Story by Kenji Sakumoto, art by Keiichi Tsuha
Published by Kodansha (2015)
Length: 3 Volumes (25 chapters)
Why oh why does it have to be like this? After the first few chapters of this manga, I was already visualising the fairly positive review I would be writing for it. It seemed to know when to use classic elements of storytelling, and, when needed, to incorporate newer plots and writing to produce a truly unique and enjoyable read. Unfortunately, a few chapters later, A Catastrophe Report completely resets itself, providing a duller, disappointing experience which somewhat warranted cancelation.
Kurokawa, the protagonist of the manga, is jobless, friendless and directionless. The shut in can feel the ridicule of society coursing through the walls of his apartment. However, after waking up from a strange dream, the young man attains a peculiar ability, being able to banish others with a “bang”.
There was an interesting premise here, one with echoes of the iconic Death Note. The idea being a young adult, frustrated with his inability to harmonise with outer society, comes into the possession of a divine power which allows him to pass judgement on those who ridiculed him previously. Despite his insistence that his actions are moral, they are usually devoid of any logic, and more often than not surface from ugly human emotions, such as envy and spite. Our protagonist’s first victim, accidentally banishing his only acquaintance, emphasises this imbalance. A hard working salaryman with a loving family and kind disposition, he represents a life our protagonist can never fully posses, and is punished for it.
This arc of the manga was exactly how I wanted it to be. There was unique power, an interesting character who possessed it, and suspenseful situations resulting from the two. This in itself could have been a successful series, but about a third of the way through, the author throws in a twist, one which alters the entire course of the series. When it first happened, I was confused. When the story progressed from there, completely rebranded, I was frustrated. And when it ended, I was disappointed. When it’s revealed that Kurokawa’s power was not, in fact, to banish people, but instead to sort necessary people, I was immediately worried about the direction of the series. It would make sense to reveal this in the last chapter, and have the series end with his “victims” getting a form of biblical revenge on him, but instead, the creators incorporate another aspect of the bible into this manga. A retelling of Noah’s arc kicked off the second half of the manga, and effectively killed this piece for me.
The storyline was altered so drastically that all previous developments were essentially pointless. The manga began to lack continuity, and this resulted in a much weaker manga. It was so sporadic that I couldn’t tell if a character was actually developing, or if the story now needed them to act a different way. Ultimately, the biggest issue with this narrative decision was that it was completely unneeded. Sakumoto’s creation literally started with a bang, and was in no need of a reboot. The second half is so different it could have become its own series, if the creators had wanted to explore those ideas, but jamming them into a story with an already established cast and setting did in no way contribute to immersion.
There were some redeeming qualities towards the end. I liked how from the beginning of the manga it is suggested that only the protagonist takes a truly disgusting form, only for the second half to introduce the uglier elements of seemingly moral characters. Their deceptive qualities did border on extreme, and the angsty overtones of this piece were often clumsily displayed. The art was underdeveloped, and nothing particularly pretty to look at. But its rough, sketch-like appearance complemented the often disturbing elements of this manga. Their skewed morality, bordering on delusion, seemed ever more disconnected from our reality when paired with these dark and messy lines.
Unless it gradually builds off of the original premise, adapting a manga’s plot during the series is completely jarring and often destructive. This was the experience I had with A Catastrophe Report. As opposed to a series with a good idea but poor delivery, this manga’s beginning suggested that the creators had figured out how to produce the thought provoking drama they wanted it to be. But it proved that no matter how good, consistency is key in world-building.
Art – 6
Story – 5
Writing – 6
Overall – 5.5/10