Review: Believers

Review: BelieversBelievers by Naoki Yamamoto
Published by Shogakukan on 1999
Genres: Horror
Format: eBook
Source: Scanlation

Believers (ビリーバーズ Biriibaazu) is a Japanese seinen manga by Naoki Yamamoto and is his first weekly serial manga created entirely without the help of any assistants. Believers was first serialized in Weekly Big Comic Spirits between May and November 1999 and is published in two tankōbon by Shogakukan. The plot to Believers revolves around themes of sexual desire and the line between dreams and reality. While Believers contains many scenes of graphic sexuality, the sex and nudity is used intellectually and not merely as fan service.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to review this. Since it’s my policy to review everything, I considered reading all but the last chapter and then quitting, but that’s lame, so here goes. I chose to give this brief series a try because the description up there sounded fascinating. Creepy cult? I am in. The story started out boring and creepy, then it got weird and creepy, which is where it stayed.

What the Mangafox description leaves out (but the Goodreads description I didn’t check until later doesn’t) is that this cult is built pretty much solely around renunciation of sexual desires. So, here I am, reading along and suddenly BAM fairly graphic sex every couple pages. Seriously. The first few chapters were just these three people on an island, two men and one woman, apparently following the directive of some leader. They are reliant upon deliveries for food and orders, but they don’t necessarily come in a timely fashion, so they worry a bit about food.

Mostly what they do is discuss their dreams every day. This manga is trying to say something about dreams and sex, but I really have no clue what. If they have bad, impure dreams, the punishment is to be buried chest deep in the sand and left there for a while. This is all that had really happened. Then some drunkards land their boat on the island, wreak havoc and try to rape the woman. The girl runs off and the men shoot the interlopers. The ‘chairman’ of the island stays to cleanup the mess and the other guy goes to check on the woman, who confesses to having been turned on by her attempted rape. She is shamed. To make her feel better, he’s all ‘oh hey, check out my erection,’ so that she’ll know she’s not the only dirty person around. Obviously, she feels guilty for giving him impure thoughts, so she has to give him a blow job.

And that’s basically what this manga is, though it expands to include the chairman, who has all sorts of kinky purification rituals in mind. Why did I keep reading? Well, for one thing, it was really short. If there had been any more volumes of this, I wouldn’t have bothered. I also really wanted to learn more about the cult. Why do they sit with their feet pressed together? How did this group get started? Why are they all here? How do they have control over this island? What’s the world like outside the island? Well, thankfully, that stuff does get explained, but, seriously, I didn’t get it. I feel like the manga would have benefited from a bit more balance between to the crazy and the conclusion that explained how all of this came about.

I really don’t know what to make of this at all. On Goodreads, it actually has a really high rating, so I suppose there aren’t too many people like me stumbling across it with no clue what it’s about. This is my third seriously unfortunate manga in a row. I hope I read a good one soon. This might be up your alley if you like reading creepy, mind-bending things with lots of sex.

2 responses to “Review: Believers”

  1. Lilian says:

    I like creepy and mind-bending things, but not sure about the sex part. Reading this review made me think of Liar Game, and Battle Royale…but with a lot of porn.

    It’s been a long while since I’ve even picked up/read manga scanlations…and I used to be obsessed with them in middle school, but now I think of them as a naive part of my childhood.

    If i ever get curious, I might check it out. =)

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      This was seriously just so weird. I mean, philosophical things have been discussed with much sex before, like in Milan Kundera’s work, so it’s not like I’m bothered by that. However, much of this seemed unnecessary, and I would just like more story to go with it.

      Battle Royale’s manga did have a couple of scenes like this, haha.

      Scanlations are almost the only way to get manga, so I deal. Without them, I’m limited to what the library has and I’ve read most of what they have (that interests me) already. Manga’s too expensive to purchase, since every volume costs as much as a paperback novel. I get why (they’re more expensive to print), but that doesn’t mean I can swing that.

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