TW: Suicide, death, grotesque images
I would like to put a trigger warning as this manga story does include themes of death, as well as the action of suicide. I know it can be a very sensitive subject and I would never want to trigger anyone. Please do not read this review if you struggle with suicide ideations. Or you are sensitive to reading about this type of stuff.
Black Paradox: What’s it about?
Four people with suicide ideations decide to meet up to commit a group suicide. While on the way to their destined spot, each person shares why they would like to die. Realizing two of the group members could be fakes, Maruso and Taburo escape only to discover that 3 of the 4 people are phonies.
Maruso ends up meeting with the real people a second time. They once again drive to a new destination to commit suicide together. This time with sleeping pills. Maruso fakes taking the pills under the pretense the others may be phonies again. Spooked by her stories, the real Baracchi and Taburo also don’t take their pills. Pii-tan does and ends up dying only to come back to life. He starts vomiting these weird circular stones that possess tremendous amounts of energy.
Pii-tan eventually becomes unable to stop puking up the stones. His stomach explodes and he ends up dying for real this time. Baracchi and Taburo began to start selling the stones while Maruso hides away in her home, anxiety ridden. Eventually its learned these stones contain spirits, unbeknownst to the public. If you break a stone it releases so much energy it resembles a huge explosion.
Baracchi and Taburo are eventually suspected of being terrorists due to discovering the stones and go into hiding. They conclude that Pii-tan can’t be dead and decide to follow Maruso around to get to Pii-tan. Maruso ends up hiding away in a cabin with a doctor who admits he knows Maruso’s connection to Pii-tan. Dr. Suga tells Maruso he cultivated Pii-tan’s stomach. He also tells her that his stomach is a gateway to a new world.
Maruso is shocked to see what the doctor has done. While this is happening, Baracchi’s face starts sprouting stones out of nowhere. She runs into the cabin to have Dr. Suga remove the scar from her face. Maruso is held hostage while Baracchi and Taburo work in cahoots with the doctor to retrieve more stones. They also work together to research what this other world is. The doctor tries sending in humans through the gateways but they come out melted. We learn that whomever created the portal can go through it. So robot Pii-tan can go through his and Baracchi through hers.
Time passes and Baracchi grows jealous of the fact that Dr. Suga loves Maruso despite still having her tied up. Maruso goes crazy from anxiety and is convinced her and everyone else will die. Jealous Baracchi jumps in her gateway and never comes back. Maruso is taken to the hospital where it is discovered there’s a tumor near her amygdala and that’s what is causing her anxiety. After it’s removed she’s much calmer and Dr. Suga cultivates her tumor as it is also a gateway to this new world. Taburo discovers he has a gateway in the form of a shadow.
Once going through the gateway each individual obtains some special ability. Maruso eventually goes through her own portal and ends up obtaining the ability of clairvoyance. She tells each person of their fate, as well as what Tokyo will be like in the future. The end of the story shows all four individuals in a special task group now called Black Paradox. Their mission from what I understand, is to go into their portals gathering stones to give to researchers so that they could be used to advance the resources of Tokyo.
Meet the Characters
Maruso: Maruso is a quiet, go with the flow character who pretty much wants to die because she has anxiety. She doesn’t know what bad thing is necessarily going to happen to her, only that it is going to occur. She’s the first to notice something is off with the people she meets wanting to commit suicide. When Pii-tan was dying she rushed him to the hospital and fled the scene. Despite being anxiety ridden much to the point of paranoia, she manages to still have a kind heart and morals unlike the other two. When she discovered the stones would be worth a lot of money, she didn’t take any for herself or try to sell them. Even when Pii-tan died she didn’t take any stones from him. I’d say she was a pretty solid character that honestly just wanted to die.
Baracchi: Baracchi seemed like the kind of person who would appear to be nice on the outside but was secetly sneaky. Once she realized the stones would be worth a fortune she took as many as she could and even started selling them. Her main drive in the story was to look beautful. She had a huge birthmark on her face she considered ugly. Because of the birthmark she wanted to die. When she made enough money from selling the stones she went to Dr. Suga to have him surgically remove the birthmark. Even when she was perceived beautiful without it, it was clear she faced many insecurities still, which showed when she dove into her portal with no hesitation after seeing Dr. Suga with a very unstable Maruso.
Pii-tan: Pii-tan was another character who really just wanted to die. He felt as if he had been replaced by the robot he created, so his purpose in life seemed pointless. He does actually end up killing himself and the robot Pii-tan kind of replaces him for the rest of the story afterwards. Robot Pii-tan also just wanted to die and basically would keep trying to find ways to off himself. It was kind of annoying.
Taburo: Taburo seemed like he had a genuine interest in dying. As soon as he started making money from selling the stones, like Baracchi he decided life was worth living. I feel like a good lesson in this story is maybe we just need money and our troubles may go away temporarily. Taburo and Baracchi were kind of living the life until things get wonky. Taburo starts to see his doppelgänger and believes he will die soon. This part gets wonky too because I’m not entirely sure if Taburo ends up dying only to be replaced by the doppelgänger. It’s not very clear, but he starts to become afraid of his own shadow which turns out to be a gateway portal to the other world. He does go through the portal and comes out of it less afraid of dying.
I guess in a way, these four people who wanted to die so desperately, end up going through a rebirth of sorts. After going through their portals they all end up deciding to live and dedicating themselves to the betterment of humanity. Kind of hard to leave the world if you have a purpose in which billions of people are counting on you.
I give the story 5 stars. There’s never going to be a time where I ever fully understand Ito’s plots–and I’m okay with that. I don’t know if it’s because it’s manga or because he intentionally does this but I do always feel as if the plots are rushed. Or that maybe the story isn’t necessarily finished, but that’s just where we stop for now. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, maybe it could be Ito’s style of storytelling.
I certainly look forward to reading more of his works. This was an interesting read! Imagine wanting to die and now you’re forced to stay alive to do biddings for the literal sake of humanity. Tough.
Mini Life Update
If you managed to make it to the end of this post here’s a few mini life updates! I am almost done with my current semester of grad school and then I’ll have a seven week break before I go into my second year also known as my specialist year! Very excited that I will no longer be taking general classes and I can finally start taking classes that are of interest to me. For anyone new, or those who just don’t know, I’m in a graduate social work program. I have an interest in direct clinical practice with children, youth, and families (basically I’m trying to become a therapist teehee).
I feel like school has been kind of flying by–which I am grateful for. Don’t know if I ever mentioned my insecurities with juggling graduate school while working. Also I got a new job omg! Okay rewind! So back in late August I got laid off from my previous non-profit job. Instead of being sad, I took the opportunity to really enjoy the new free time that I had–and it was great. After my little funemployment stint I decided to start back applying to jobs in my field.
I now have a new job which I just reached my month anniversary at! It’s my first clinical job and I feel it’s very important to gain this experience considering the career track I’m going down. Very intense, but worth it. So I’m back working and doing school in the evenings again which leaves very little time for hobbies. I’ve started setting timers for 30 minutes just to play a game or draft a post, or scroll through tik tok. It’s a work in progress, but I think I’m finally starting to prioritize my self-care, which is extremely important in my field of work.
I’m so excited for my seven week break too! This will be the first time (besides my funemployment month) where I will not be in school and working at the same time. I’ll just be working which means more time to do things I like which is always a plus.
Grad school and work has not been easy but it’s not been necessarily hard. Just time consuming. I really can’t wait to be finished. I’m surprised I’ve made it this far considering my track record with school in general but I’m doing it and that’s all that matters and I’m quite proud of how far I’ve made it. After next week, I’m halfway to a MSW!
Anywho that’s my life. I hope you guys are taking care of yourselves. Even if you have to schedule blocks of time to play your favorite game, or watch a quick episode of a show you like. Please take the time to take care of yourselves. Burnout is real, but also the weather change can be rough and we just went back an hour. So make sure you are doing what you can to make it day by day.
Until next post lovelies!