*this manga is NSFW material but you probably already knew.*
One boring sunday I was talking to my friend about a certain anime which he said eerily reminded him of Emergence. I, being the uncultured individual I am, had no clue what it was and he proceeded to tell me that it was an “emotionally exhausting NSFW must-read for artists and degenerates” I quote. So what did I do?
I picked it up of course. He had sparked a curiousity in me and I just couldn’t go without checking out just how exhausting and horrible it was. Besides, I have no problem reading NSFWs. I like admiring the level of art that goes into them and the clear effort of expressions and body parts.
Do you want to know what the worst part about reading it was? It was actually good. I repeat, it was good. It was just as emotionally exhausting and heart-breaking as I had been warned but from what I expected to be a mindless, plotless NSFW was actually a melancholy tale of the most unluckiest girl in the world and the evil of society.
In middle school, Saki Yoshida was an outcast. Out of fear of being ostracized due to her introverted personality, she isolated herself from her classmates. Growing to regret this lifestyle, Saki resolved to change herself in high school.
Now donning cute clothes and makeup, Saki’s initiative quickly pays off, and she wins several new friends on the first day of class. But her classmates aren’t the only ones impressed by Saki’s new appearance—a young man named Hayato later approaches and sweet talks her into joining him for karaoke. Exploiting Saki’s obliviousness, Hayato drugs and takes advantage of her, promising that he will “play” with her again as he leaves. Stunned but left curious by the sexual encounter, Saki decides to partake in more of these “social interactions,” unaware of what her metamorphosis will truly entail.
(MAL synopsese are amazing!)
Ever since we see Saki obliviously sell her virginity off to Hayato, the reader feels an immense amount of sympathy and sadness for her. All she really wanted was to make friends and lead a happy highschool life through beauty. She never asked for guys to come to her like flies. Is it her fault that she was born too innocent? Is it her fault no one ever taught her what was ‘right’ and what was ‘wrong’ in life? Every single event that happens to Saki is absolutely horrendous to witness. Especially knowing that this can happen to anybody out there in the real world. Sex trafficking and prostitution are serious problems and I found Emergence to capture such problems efficiently. Emergence conveys dark problems and themes surprisingly well for its standard by getting readers attached to Saki’s character within a mere 20 pages only to slowly break her apart in front of us in the most viciously calm way possible.
Saki continously stays oblivious and sacrifices everything she’s ever known all in belief that its out of ‘love’ or ‘friendship’ – A mindset not meant for the adult world or even the highschool world. You’d expect Saki to learn from all her continous ‘friendly interactions’ and yes! Yes, she does! But once your in the sex trafficking / prostituion loop, there really is no escaping it. Especially in real life. I read a documentary on sex-trafficking and prostitution a few weeks ago.
Saki sadly realized the error of her actions too late into the fray and no matter her efforts to stop the men’s sexual assault and her own addiction to the sex life, it never works and Saki eventually comes to accept her fate as the ‘slut’ she’s been told she was ever since she made her decision to become a better, more socialable person in the beginning. This manga perfectly depicts the weight of change and how much you have to be aware of it no matter how innocent and small it may look.
Probably why Emergence’s alternate title is Metamorphosis.
Its heart-breaking when Saki decides to seriously get out of the sex-trafficking / prostitution loop. She finalizes that she’ll lead a good life for her baby so she spends months prostituting herself to save up money for the new life they’ll have. She spends month making sure her clients don’t do anything to mess up her baby’s growth during sex and when the due date for her baby approaches, we see the outcome of all her hardwork – piles of money crammed in a bag she worked for. Maybe we’ll get the happy ending we’ve been dreaming to see for her?
No. It all goes down the drain when a group of highschoolers come around and notice her money stash. They look at her disgusting appearance, they look at her pregnant belly at her young age and come to the quick assumption that she stole it (what an societal message). They beat her, they kick her impregnanted stomach, they steal her money, they sexually embarass her in public, they mock her and infinitely more. Saki, embarassed, stumbles into a bathroom where no one will find her and wears the glassess she wore as the innocent ‘outcast’ she was at the beginning of the story, wishing she could go back to that simple, harmless lifestyle she should’ve cherished more. It was a lifestyle more than she could ever ask for and she threw it all away all because she just wanted friends. The glasses no longer match her once beautiful look. They look awkward on her ymbolizing how she can never go back to a quiet peaceful life despite her efforts as explained. Knowing this, she miserably snorts a plethora of drugs and dies along with her baby all while she imagines a future where she’s happy with her child.
The scene closes with Saki smiling at her impossible vision as her glasses lay close beside her symbolizing the innocent, happy person she once was now broken and stained.
Emergence is one volume filled with pure despair and unfairness. It’ll make you angry, sad, guilty, miserable; just one one big mess of emotions. Emergence showcases just how terrifying sex and adolescence can be and how horribly wrong change can go in a society we’re apart of today. I found it oddly deep and heart-breaking even if it wasn’t meant to be that at all. I found it painful to read through and that says alot since 3/4 of it is Saki f*cking someone (but all of that supports the terrifiying adolescence theme and cruelty of life and society in the first place).
So, do you think you can handle a coming-of-age story about an innocent girl being dragged down into the world of deep breath, incest, pregnant intercourse, sexual violence, abuse, prostitution, drug addiction, date-rape, sex-trafficking and suicide? It’ll be hard to perservere through but in exchange, you’ll have experienced a great story about human nature, wilting innocence, digusting actions and the impossibility and unprecedented evil of change in the society we live in.
Why do you think its called Metamorphosis?
~ Word of the Review: Evil ~
Thank you for reading!