Sickness Unto Death Vol. 2 (Vertical)


Rating: 4/5 – Concluding a Thought-Provoking Exploration Into Despair.

In the review for the first volume of Sickness Unto Death, I hit briefly on how this two-volume manga was an exploration of Soren Kierkegaard’s book of the same title. I also owned up to not having read Kierkegaard’s book (my philosophy class barely got out of the Greeks), but after reading this second volume I feel I have a better handle on the concept. In extremely basic terms – when we cannot be our true selves, we have a despair that surrounds us and makes us ‘die’ or long for whatever death can end the falsehood that is our lives.

We’re lead down one path by volume one, and by the end of it we have certain pre-drawn conclusions about how the series must end. Writer Hikaru Asada effectively pulls the rug out from under our preconceived notions and turns everything upside-down. I found myself re-reading the ending several times, not out of any frustration, but simply to make sure I understood that what had happened…had actually happened.

This series won’t be for everyone, but I think anyone willing to take the journey through these two volumes will definitely find something to – if not entertain – perhaps enlighten them, or open their eyes to what Kierkegaard was talking about. Perhaps enough to seek out his actual words and thoughts on the subject. I can’t say for sure if it has done that for me, but certainly the concept itself – that of us being our true self, and first defining what that actually is, lest we perish – is worthy of contemplation at the very least. How many comic books can put you in that train of thought?

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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