In early 2020, two series debuted around the same time in Weekly Shonen Jump, becoming rather popular and well-liked. One was Mashle, which is getting a release come July. The other is Undead Unluck, which has just been unleashed physically in the West. Let’s take a look at the latter and see what this new series has in store.
According to the official description provided by Viz Media:
All Fuuko wants is a passionate romance like the one in her favorite shojo manga. Unfortunately, her Unluck ability makes that impossible. But just as Fuuko hits rock bottom, Andy sweeps her off her feet—literally! Now she’s become Andy’s unwilling test subject as he works to find a way to trigger a stroke of Unluck big enough to kill him for good. However, when the pair discovers a secret organization is hunting them, it puts Andy’s burial plans on hold.
The premise and setup here in Undead Unluck Vol. 1 starts in a fairly familiar manner. It’s a story about two people with extraordinary powers on the run from some mysterious agency that wants their power for themselves. While a bit conventional at first, what gives the story promise is the two deciding to join the organization as a way to protect themselves. It’s a nice subversion and has potential for how the story will now play out. The only downside to that is that the story is still getting off the ground, so it will take another volume for the manga to truly show its stuff.
Right now, the best thing about the series so far is its creativity. There are characters known as Negators, people who have unique abilities that start with “Un”, like Undead, Unluck, and Unavoidable. Every character fights in a different way that uses this ability, whether it be weaponizing bad luck by placing it upon a person or using body parts as bullets when regenerating. It’s all very inventive and cool to see play out, what the next person will do or learning what their power’s capabilities are. The last fight is a big highlight, leaving you wanting to see what else the creator, Yoshifumi Tozuka, can cook up down the line.
Our leads are Fuuko Izumo and Andy. Fuuko herself has had a horrible life due to her “Unluck” ability. She lost her parents as a child because they hugged her, had to avoid being around people in fear of hurting them, and started the series off wanting to commit suicide. It’s understandable why she is the way she is, and why despite how abrasive and ugly he can be, Andy is important to her. Just being around him and having him survive means so much. It all comes to a head at the end when she realizes how much she values life again because of him and his looking out for her well-being. It’s rather touching.
Andy, on the other hand, is the biggest problem with the series. His character isn’t exactly bad. Being stuck with “Undead” as an ability, he is unable to die no matter what happens to him. He wants to be able to move on, especially after living for so long, and sees Fuuko as his ticket to his true end. He constantly puts himself upon her, pushing her buttons to get a bigger and bigger reaction for her ability. However, he also still cares about her, cutting her hair since no one else can and pushing for them to join the organization to protect her.
That’s all fine and good, but the sexual harassment is horrendous. The thing about Fuuko’s Unluck ability is that it’s triggered by people touching her skin. The bigger and more personal the action is, the bigger the reaction. Andy just loves feeling her up and touching her, including a lot of groping. He talks about having sex with her a lot. All of this is just extremely awkward at best and horribly awful at worst, especially since Fuuko hates it. It makes reading the book hard since this issue is a constant throughout. I heard this is toned down as time goes on or gets better, but for now, it kills a lot of the manga’s early momentum.
The artwork for the manga is pretty good. Its style lends itself well to the frantic, energetic nature of the series. The characters are uniquely designed and instantly recognizable from a single glance — their expressions and body language are especially good (though Andy keeps making the same face most of the time). The action is intense, but it’s mostly easy to follow and conveys well the power and creativity of what’s happening. Andy’s abilities are probably the best example of the art with how over the top but memorable and flashy they can be, using his body parts in various ways, like bullets.
Undead Unluck Vol. 1 is a manga full of potential, but not quite realizing it. It has a solid setup, world, interesting and clever lore and action, and the artwork fits its frantic, energized world. However, between its struggle to find footing and its constant, ugly sexual harassment problem, it is hard to fully get into the manga at this time. Maybe wait for the second volume to see if it can truly shine.
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