Reading Pile: Soul Liquid Chambers Vol 1
SLC is a fanservice laden mashup of post-apocalyptic cyberpunk zombie splatter fest horror, with the unfortunate detail that the fanservice lands on a cyborg that exists in an oversexualized 12-year old body. If it wasn't for that element this would be a 100% enjoyable B-movie romp with a fun world and incredibly fluid and hyper kinetic artwork. There's a lot of good elements to enjoy, but it's sort of baffling why we needed this particular level and type of objectification. The creator also sort of calls himself out on it within the third page of the book, so you almost want to hope he's making a commentary but that feels like a stretch and it's just more of a Troma-like bad taste joke.
The main setup is that society has fallen after the rise of man-made zombies and survivors must roam the wastelands to survive. Our main characters include the sisters Lotte and Luise who inhabit the bodies of a young girl and her teddy bear. They hire on a wasteland guide named Emil to search corporate ruins that may lead them to their father, who may be responsible for this apocalypse and as well as the creation of Soul Liquid.
Before the fall, humanity achieved the ability to transfer their souls as liquid into special jar containers, allowing for a certain type of immortality. This is where some of the more clever and interesting ideas of the series dwell as the two sisters can switch bodies by exchanging their Soul Liquids. It's also where some of the weaker moral cheats in the series may pop up because it's hinted that they're both older than that one cyborg body would infer.
Part of the fun is the over the top gore as Tamaki is definitely channeling a mix of Evil Dead, Planet Terror, and a slew of other violent horror films. There's also a bit of a Battle Angel vibe sprinkled throughout, so it has a lot of tone and atmosphere that I can get behind.
Fanservice and vaguely underage female characters in skimpy outfits are a norm for manga and I'm generally numb to it at this point. One of my favorite series of the past few years, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, is generally pretty wholesome in its worldview and yet it's also plenty guilty of tons of fanservice. This book draws a bit more attention to it though, and that would be one thing if it just embraced a Mature rating but oddly enough Seven Seas Entertainment just slapped on an Older Teen rating.
I'm still deciding how much I may want to continue with the series. The story isn't terribly deep, but as it all feels like a bunch of compiled love letters to various genre films and comics, you're pretty much just along for a fun popcorn B-movie ride anyway. The art and pacing are the more engaging elements, along with the newer ideas popping up that make it stand out a bit more from other generic dystopian visions. I think I'm generally interested in seeing where this particular vision goes, but it's lower in my que as this vision is partially blocked by a lot of panty shots.