Manga: I Am a Hero

He'd better be.

A 2009 comedy/horror manga by Kengo Hanazawa.

There isn't much to the life of a struggling artist. Hideo Suzuki, 35, is starting to believe he hit his prime back when he had a printed series that died after six months. The path to manga stardom has faded from view, leaving Suzuki pitching pandering Moe series and drawing porn to get by. His editor is bored with him, his seniors are short with him, and even his girlfriend seems out of his league. Underneath a happy-go-lucky facade, Suzuki is desperate: what do you do when you play a bit part in your own life?

But there's considerably less-existential trouble brewing in the city streets. News reports have surfaced about a rash of biting assaults in crowded areas - here and there, someone seems to go berserk and sink teeth into the nearest bystander. Being around the same people every day, Suzuki's own risk for infection is low... but protagonism picks today to knock.

Go figure.

A uniquely weird Seinen series. Features realistic artwork that switches from funny faces to grotesque ones with outstanding impact.

I Am A Hero provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Nakata, who has obscenely rich parents, but loves to draw manga for a living. He is unattractive, socially awkward and speaks with a lisp. However, his manga are successful and everyone speaks highly of his talent as well as his personality. Even Hideo has to grudgingly admit that Nakata is a good person and is good at what he does.
  • Action Survivor: Most of the main cast are normal civilians who manage to stay alive thanks to perseverance and luck.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mentioned several times, also see Groin Attack below.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Mitani used one to defeat an infected. It works, although it has only been used once so far.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: The series regularly shifts focus at the end of major arcs, and spends a few chapters to show what's happening to other parts of the world outside Hideo's sphere of influence. The first one, done at the end of the mall arc, shows an illicit tryst between a manga artist and her editor masquerading as a "research trip" to the Chinese mainland, while another, set in France, shows how continental Europe is faring after the outbreak. The latter is particularly important, as it implies that the situation is no longer simply a Zombie Apocalypse, what with the appearance of what could only be described as a human centipede zombie, and something that's clearly kaijuu-sized, enough that airstrikes are being conducted against it.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Hiromi
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: The author averts this on every occasion. Hideo religiously follow proper firearm handling procedures. He checks the chambers everytime he gets his hand on his shotgun, and keeps it unloaded when he thinks he is not in danger. He has good trigger discipline. And when he has some time, he cleans the gun and shells. To top it off, when he has to (reluctantly) give the gun to other characters, he makes sure they remember the basic safety precautions.
  • Asshole Victim: Inevitably, in a zombie media. For starters, the pair in a Ferrari, who threatens Hideo and Hiromi with a (airsoft) pistol. After Hideo spots a bite wound on one's arm, he pulls out his shotgun and drives them off. They gets chomped down by the infected, which were drawn to the sound their car makes, before they get a chance to turn.
  • Ax-Crazy: Kurusu, a.k.a The Prophet. After being infected by his mother, he kills her with a baseball bat. After recruiting several followers, he seems to enjoy running around and killing the infected in a pair of boxer briefs. And he has no qualms about killing humans, either.
  • Batter Up: How Mitani kills his boss. Kurusu also kills his mother this way.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Mi-chan and Tetsuko, but played very straight with Hiromi.
  • Body Horror: After the person turns, the face and body get distorted and bloated, and the limbs can turn in unusual angles. And later on, we see zombies made of several bodies fused together.
  • Boom Head Shot: Hideo is quite good at this, using a shotgun or rifle.
  • Boring but Practical: Hideo's shotgun. It's simple but reliable and easy to operate. As an added bonus, when someone unfamiliar with firearms takes the gun from him, they usually can't reload in time after firing. In fact, it's only practical for Hideo because he can reload the gun very quickly.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Considering he only has a double-barreled shotgun, Suzuki only manages to survive for so long because he is as good at reloading as he is at shooting. And he is constantly worried about restocking on ammo after the events at Gotemba Premium Outlets reduced his ammo supply from nearly 100 rounds to roughly a dozen.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Taken to ridiculous extremes inside the suburban rail. An infected salary man bites a chunk out of a Too Dumb to Live passenger's head, then attacks another. The second man, while trying to hold down the attacker, calls out to nearby passengers. What are their reaction? They continue sitting and joking, wondering if they should help out in what they believe to be a molestation. Not until after several more deaths do the passengers finally get it that people are getting killed.
  • Car Fu: Employed by several characters to get through zombie-infected areas.
  • Catfight: Two of Hiromi's now-zombie friends (who never did like each other even while living) began to fight each other in the most brutal manner possible, with each trying to bite, gouge, and scratch as much as their disgusting undead bodies can muster.
  • Character Filibuster: Suzuki has very strong ideas about the future of manga, and loves to philosophize about them at length. Played for laughs when it's clear nobody asked, and sometimes it's all in his head.
  • Chekhov's Gun: With an actual gun. In plain sight. The wait shows the main character is far from an action hero, at best.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Subverted. After Hideo gets swallowed then regurgitated by a large infected, he stops breathing. Hiromi and Oda then perform CPR (Hiromi, who has apparently become immune, gives Hideo mouth-to-mouth) and successfully revive him. However, several of his ribs are cracked by Oda compressing his chest, and it takes weeks for him to heal completely.
  • Creepy Child: All infected children are these. A little boy spotted gnawing on a woman's remains, moaning for his mother.
  • Cursed with Awesome: If the infection doesn't turn a person into a zombie, he/she is given Super Strength, Healing Factor, while retaining most of the personality.
  • Daylight Horror: Most of the depicted zombie attacks are during the day.
  • Deadly Lunge: A frequent followup to Enemy Rising Behind.
  • Ear Ache: Here.
  • Enfant Terrible: The infected kids.
  • Eye Cam: Used several times. For example, when Hiromi loses or regains consciousness.
  • Eye Scream: Several times. Eyes can be bitten off, poked in, gouged out, etc. An example is here
  • Erotic Eating: Mocked with an infected Mi-chan fellating a baseball bat.
  • Facial Horror:
  • Fingore: Happens to Mitani, among others.
  • Fish Eye Lens: Employed multiple times to great effects.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The fact that zombies are migrating to the South was mentioned during the Kurusu segment of the story. Oda and Hiromi experience getting stuck in one first-hand, which leads to an Oh, Crap moment for the two, especially as Hideo was incapacitated at the time. Miraculously the two of them get ignored, though they don't stick around to find out why.
  • Furo Scene: Chapter 164. The series still somehow manages to contrive giving Hiromi and Oda a chance to take a bath at a small hot spring. All the while Hideo is holding off an increasing number of zombies headed towards them.
  • Groin Attack: Early on, the sensei Hideo works for has his penis bitten off by another man in the studio. Later, Iura, in an infection-induced bout of madness, yanks off his penis while jerking off.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Mitani.
  • Horror Hunger: The zombies who completely lose themselves don't stop at the living.
  • Hot Scoop: Mitani never misses the news. Not because he cares what's going on, he just likes to slobber over the anchor ladies. They are the first clues that something is extremely wrong.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Hideo does this twice. The first time is accidental. The second? Not so much.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Infact, zombified children are quite troublesome, as they are more difficult to spot and evade, especially in a crowded places. See the gathering of refugees close to Mt. Fuji.
  • I Taste Delicious: Hideo and another survivor glimpse one zombie chowing down on its own feet. This prompts them to wonder if the zombies' goal is to destroy everything by eating humans, each other, and then themselves.
  • Kaiju Defense Force: The SDF's having a hard time in combating infected civilians. The survivors pass by an abandoned APC with the interior drenched in blood to prove the point.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the first depicted kills is done with an Aerosol Flamethrower. Araki later sacrifices himself and burns a zombies and himself to death to save a young teen.
  • Klingon Promotion: After killing Kurusu, Takashi becomes the group's leader, and the followers even start calling him Kurusu
  • Madness Mantra: The infected keeps repeating their usual lines while attacking. And it is terrifying... - "Thank you for your patronage"
  • Marionette Motion: As if the zombies themselves weren't pants-shitting enough.
  • Meaningful Name: The Alternate Character Reading for Hideo is why he keeps saying "I am a hero". Later we have Hiromi.
  • The Medic: Oda has some experience in medicine from her stint as a nurse.
  • Mle Trois: between Kurusu, The Naked Emperor and Takashi.
  • Message Board: Online communities play a role. They're the most Genre Savvy about a Zombie Apocalypse, have less direct human contact, and so have better odds of survival. Not that it prevents the flaky, morally questionable types from running things...
  • Mind Screw: See Unreliable Narrator.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Hideo of course, being a mangaka and all.
  • Murderous Thighs: The added strength, agility, and lack of pain means the thinner infectees use their entire bodies like a vice. Squickier than the usual version.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: With Tetsuko. He understands the situation, though - it's out of respect.
  • NEET: Many of the characters of the parallel plot are this, who survived the initial outbreak due to being holed out in their rooms.
  • Nightmare Face Have a nice sleep everybody
  • Not a Zombie: With a few exceptions, the entire city is under this impression as few people who encounter them survive long enough to pass it on.
  • Not Using the Z Word: The online term for the infected becomes ZQN, a portmanteau with the Japanese slang DQN (Dokyun, meaning "delinquent" or "idiot"). At least one scanlation uses "zombfags", in stride with English-speaking chan parlance.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies in this series come in several types:
    • The first type is the Technically Living Zombie phase. These creatures have an increased heart rate that might be fatal to a normal person, are hyper-violent, immune to fear and pain, and possess increased strength. They're also impossible to reason with. When these receive physical damage that would otherwise be fatal to a normal person (like, say, an impacted cranium from from a three-story drop or a gunshot wound to the head), they changed into ...
    • The second type: true undead flesh eating zombies. These have no pulse, no breaths, and still retain the speed and strength of the previous type.
    • Half-zombie hybrid: Hiromi and Kurusu, as well as several characters are bitten but do not turn into zombies. They retain most of their personality, but are "blessed" with strength rivaling the zombies, and apparently a Healing Factor as well. Zombies do not aggressively attack them, and as a bonus, they don't seem to suffer any ill effects like Horror Hunger.
    • The Flesh Golem created from multiple human bodies. It is also unknown what created them. The one assisting Hideo's group's escape at the hot spring seems to be fused together. The one seen in Europe seems to be stitched together. And also the gigantic blob of flesh resulted from hundreds of zombies fusing together.
  • Off with His Head!: Mitani gets decapitated by the landing gear of an airplane that's crashing down the street, seconds after experiencing Fingore.
  • Panty Shot: Let's just say that the few instances this happens in the manga is not played for fanservice.
  • Police Are Useless: Lampshaded for laughs as Suzuki obsessive compulsively keeps mentioning laws long after they have nobody to enforce them.
  • Potty Emergency: Oda experienced one while driving with Hideo and Hiromi, complicated by the fact she was handcuffed to Hiromi. Resulted in Bring My Brown Pants when Hideo uses a sledgehammer and a chisel from a hardware store to free them.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Used most prominently during the scavenging trip of Sango's group.
  • Really Gets Around: Mi-chan is heavily implied to be this. After being infected, the only words she keeps mumbling is "Dick" and "Cock". Also see Erotic Eating above.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: It's hard to say just how much is necessary for the latter as several of the infected have partially crushed skulls. Just knowing the method isn't an easy ticket for the police to control the outbreak.
  • Revenant Zombie: The infected have some elements of this; while decidedly unintelligent, they are often seen mindlessly attempting the daily routines they kept in life. And for reasons yet unknown, they all seem to be heading south...
  • Running Gag: Hideo keeps refusing to let other characters hold his shotgun, because it is against the law in Japan.
  • Running on All Fours: Several of the infected do this, but with the belly up, which is a lot creepier than the usual version.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Played with relentlessly. There are several occasions where Hideo thinks he's finally found a safe place to stay for a while, only for it to turn out as anything but.
  • [1]: Hiromi is used this way, after she becomes infected.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Impressive in a rather detailed comic.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The change in mood makes Suzuki unable to imagine Yajima any more.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Hideo's weapon of choice is a over-under double-barreled shotgun. Not that he has many options, considering how difficult it is to acquire a gun permit in Japan.
  • Spit Take: Oda breaks the news of her pregnancy to Hideo, while he is eating noodle. Cue Hideo coughing and spitting (off screen), and a strand of noodle hangs out of his nostril when he's done.
  • Staking the Loved One: Hideo had to put his girlfriend out of her misery.
  • South Koreans with Marines: The infection has reached Korea that the South Korean military's being called in all the way to the DMZ to take out anyone who's a confirmed infected civilian, even if those include genuine refugees fleeing the North.
  • Tainted Veins: Infected people are marked by both Prophet Eyes and full-body standout veins.
  • Technically Living Zombie: However, the infection gives them the unnatural resilience more often associated with traditional zombies, and increased strength to boot.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The bit characters, which includes our hero. Apparently nobody watches the news.
    • On a commuter train, rather than running as fast as humanly possible, an angry youth continues to yell at a staff member staring through the window on the other side of the car even while it's clear blood is seeping from the staff man's eyes, nose and mouth, is constantly spouting Madness Mantras ("Thank You For Your Patronage"), and has tainted veins sprouting all over his face. Once it gets through, it takes a nice bite out of the youth's head, who stares disbelievingly at the mush of brain falling out before passing away.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There are actually two parallel plots to the manga. The main one obviously follows Hideo, as he first struggles to survive, then as he becomes more confident, culminating in his resolve to protect both Oda and Hiromi and get them safely to Tokyo. The other plot focuses on another group of survivors, mostly NEETs, who survived the outbreak, and have banded together under a deadly man who goes by the moniker Kurusu... And they also happen to be heading in the direction of the Tokyo area.
  • Uh-Oh Eyes: The first sign that the person has turned.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Suzuki hallucinates on a daily basis. Most of the time it's harmless, like his pudgy little imaginary friend Yajima... but it does throw the veracity of his account into question.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Kurusu, The Naked Emperor, then Takashi.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 144 and 145: Set in France, it's the first look at how the rest of the world is handling the Zombie Apocalypse. Not too well, and the zombies seem to be mutating too. And apparently the French armed forces have to resort to airstrikes to deal with ''kaijuu-sized zombie conglomerations?
    • Chapter 179: Oda finds out that she's pregnant, likely from an encounter before the outbreak. By the end of the chapter, she leaves the Hideo and Hiromi to search for a clinic, not wanting to slow them down.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Society is depicted at its most apathetic. And then there are the infectees who haven't completely lost their minds.
    • Although as the new chapters show even those who have long been dead appear to not have completely forgotten their humanity. A hanged zombie finally dies when it's handed a portrait of its family (although it could have just been the head separating from the body after much straining on the zombie's part)
      • Ditto for the Hiromi's former friend (whom it's implied got killed after Hiromi left the house to go on a stroll in the woods at night) who appears to offer her a shoe.
    • Hiromi herself is infected after being bitten by a zombified baby. She is still able to maintain some of her mental faculties and so far has not tried to attack or eat the main character, Hideo (she even tries to protect him when watching him get chased by a zombie). However, she often experiences periods of dissociation where, after tearing off the aformentioned zombie's jaw, she experiences herself in her room washing dishes when she is actually using the the ripped jaw to rub the zombie's now jawless face. She then mutilates the unfortunate zombie, thinking she is performing surgery on her stuffed toy. Her behavior may explain the zombies' erratic violent behavior and tendency to spout Madness Mantras.
    • Takashi also maintains most of his mental faculties after being infected, and his interactions with another infected imply that they still maintain some self-awareness after turning, though he briefly succumbs to their violent behaviour once he realizes Kurusu killed a member of the group he had a crush on. He even goes on to become the leader of the group of survivors he was part of. It's also implied that Kurusu had actually been infected for quite some time before Takashi joined his group, which would explain most of his Psychotic Manchild personality.
  • World of Pun: Boob Morning! (Oppai-yo Gozaimasu!), done by appropriately busty models and actresses acting as hosts for a morning variety show.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A weirder than average one, in any case.
  • Zombie Infectee: Subverted. After the initial outbreak wiped out a large chunk of the population, the remaining survivor enclaves immediately wise up to the threat. After each encounter, they check each other for bites. The "suspicious" ones are isolated for hours to ensure they don't have the symptoms.


Alternative Title(s):

I Am A Hero