Some time ago, I read and reviewed the first volume of Eternal Sabbath, and the verdict was that while it didn’t get off to the best of starts, the series did at least have promise. Now, all of the subsequent volumes have been read, and so the question must be asked- did the series ever live up to its potential?
At the end of the first volume of ES, Mine had made contact with not only ES himself in the guise of Ryousuke Akiba, but also with Sakaki, the sole survivor of the research group that worked on the Eternal Sabbath gene. According to Sakaki, Akiba is not the only one of his kind- he also had an unstable clone named Isaac (Izaku) who killed the researchers and is now at large in society. Sakaki desperately wants to capture Isaac before more lives are endangered, but capturing a superhuman who can control the minds of others is not going to be an easy task.
As I mentioned in my earlier review, it was the mind hacking aspect of Eternal Sabbath that first brought it to my attention, but unfortunately, what once seemed like the series’ greatest draw has long since been relegated to the background by the time we embark on the main storyline. Although both Isaac and Akiba’s special abilities are at the centre of the storyline, they seem to exist more to assist the plot than to be explored in and of themselves. Instead, the focus of the series is more about the game of cat and mouse between Isaac and his pursuer. For his part, Isaac has befriended Yumi, a girl who is immune to his powers, and together they have begun using Isaac’s powers to punish wrongdoers; meanwhile, it is left to Mine and the other to use all the leads they can in order to track down Isaac and find his weakness, all the while being careful of his deadly abilities.
Unfortunately, the upshot of all this is that Eternal Sabbath ultimately lacks any sort of identity of its own, instead reading like a watered down version of superior series such as Monster, Homunculus and Death Note. Is it a story about using mental powers or simple psychology to get to the heart of people’s problems; a morality play about the dangers of taking justice into one’s own hands; or maybe a tale of normal people doing their best to find a flaw in a seemingly invulnerable enemy? In Eternal Sabbath’s case, its attempts to be all of these things ensures that it does none of them particularly well, before eventually devolving into a overused heroes vs. final boss encounter by the last couple of volumes.
Like the story, the characters also seemed to have potential after the first volume, but by the end, all traces of this promise have long since vanished in the face of their somewhat dull personalities. Mine, who takes centre stage for most of the story, is an irritatingly weak female lead who is constantly apologising or agonising how everything that has gone wrong is her fault; worse yet, an important piece of background for her character is arbitrarily introduced some thirty pages before the end of the series in what must be the laziest piece of character development ever to grace the pages of a manga series. It does, however, say a lot about the series that Mine is the most well developed character present- all of the others are bland and stereotypical to a fault.
Some series can use their artwork to cover a multitude of sins, but unfortunately, Eternal Sabbath is not one of them. As initially seen in the first volume, both character designs are simplistic to the point of ugliness, whilst backgrounds are minimal at best. The colour pages, usually a special treat in any manga series, actually look worst of all, with characters often having oversized lips and inconsistent hair colouring (in the black and white pages, Akiba and Isaac appear to have very dark hair, but in the colour pages, it is a very light brown). The acid trip induced ‘mind hacks’ of the first volume never really make a return in subsequent instalments, but there is a fair amount of violence, albeit nothing too graphic or extreme.
Although it isn’t really particularly awful, nor does Eternal Sabbath have a great deal to distinguish it from the crowd- it simply sits squarely in the realm of mediocrity. A poor man’s Monster/Death Note cross, reading it will certainly pass the time and may even engage in places, but unless you are strapped for ways to occupy yourself, it will always be something that is best tackled ‘later’.
Hm, interesting. When I read Eternal Sabbath back then, I died because of suspense since it took awhile until the next scanlated chapter(s), so I always had it in mind as a high quality manga. On top of that, it’s by the gorgeous Fuyumi Soryo (a woman) who published some very good, thoughtful short stories besides Mars (a rather lame shoujo).
I find it also quite weird to compare it with Monster, Death Note or Homunculus, which are all really good, but don’t have any similarity at all. It rather looked like you pointed out every single seinen series with intellectual challenges you have read or something to compare it with Eternal Sabbath. I’d rather compare it with Mai, the Psychic Girl, Hitsuji no Uta (Lament of the Lambs) or Nanase (Telepathic Wanderers). But even there aren’t that many similarities. oh well.
Well, in my mind, those were the series I was reminded of when I was reading; Death Note because Isaac and Yumi were using his power to punish wrongdoers in a Kira-like way, Monster because of the theme of normal people chasing after a youthful and amoral killer, and Homunculus for the looking into people’s mind and hearts aspect. I don’t go out of my way to look for things to compare a series to, but at various points in the series, those were the titles I was reminded of; obviously they were never followed up in the same way in Eternal Sabbath, but that was my point- it looked like those were the directions the series wanted to go in, but in the end it just mixed them all together, didn’t really follow through on any one theme, and ended up with a bit of a cop out Hollywood movie ending.