He calls himself Eternal Sabbath (ES), although if it’s convenient he’s just as likely to use another name. A man with the unique ability to literally hack into people’s minds and rearrange their memories, he wanders from place to place, his goals unclear, his past a mystery.
Whilst using the identity “Ryousuke Akiba”, a chance meeting brings ES into contact with Dr Mine Kyujou, a researcher into the workings of the human brain, and one of the few people able to resist his hacking. Mine is immediately fascinated by ES and his superhuman abilities, but as she attempts to investigate him, she finds herself drawn into the larger events surrounding ES and the very reason why he came to exist in the first place.
Every so often, you’ll get an idea for a theme that you want to write about- only to then find an example of a series where someone has used that exact same theme already. Such was the case with the ‘mind hacking’ of Eternal Sabbath, and for that reason, I decided to investigate the manga for myself. What I was expecting was a series of standalone stories connected by a central character- the reality of the matter was, however, something rather different.
The series begins with a lengthy prologue chapter introducing us to ES and his powers, a section which proves to be less interesting than it may sound from the synopsis. There’s no doubt that the basic ideas here are sound, but somehow they lose something in the execution- the characters that ES interacts with are shallow and uninspiring, whilst his dives into their minds are so bizarre and surreal that it isn’t always easy to follow what is going on.
Fortunately, things soon take a turn for the better when the series switches to Mine’s perspective and the main story begins in earnest. Piece by piece, an actual plot begins to emerge, and although it doesn’t always prove to be the most original of tales, enough intriguing elements are built up to maintain an interest from one chapter to the next.
Although some other potentially prominent characters are introduced towards the end of the volume, this first instalment focuses primarily on the characters of ES and Mine. Like the story itself, neither of them are particularly innovative, but both are well characterised- one a somewhat detached young man using his powers to survive and protect himself best he can, the other a committed researcher who puts all her into everything she does, but often fails to get along with other people because of it. Admittedly, so far there isn’t much motivation to care about the somewhat arrogant and enigmatic ES, but hopefully future volumes will rectify this.
Unfortunately, whilst everything else is solid enough, Eternal Sabbath does suffer somewhat due to the quality of its artwork. Whilst never particularly bad, character designs are simplistic and average at best, whilst backgrounds are either sparse or nonexistent. The result is that many of the pages are rather sparse in both visuals and dialogue, negating the value for money the volume’s 260-odd pages seemed to provide.
Although it starts on a weak note, Eternal Sabbath #1 gradually builds up enough momentum to offer an enjoyable read. It’s not quite as original or interesting as the basic synopsis would seem to indicate, but nonetheless this first volume offers a solid story that will leave you wanting to order the next instalment.