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Manga / Black Paradox

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The path to the afterlife may not be death.

Black Paradox is a six-chapter seinen manga by horror master Junji Ito (author of Tomie, Uzumaki, and Gyo), released in 2009.

When four individuals, using the pseudonyms "Marisou", "Taborou", "Piitan", and "Baracchi" gather to commit suicide after meeting on a website called Black Paradox, they plan to go quickly and painlessly. However their plans seriously derail, as their first trip... isn't assembled properly, and their second attempt accidentally leads to the discovery of a doorway to another world, a world hosting precious stones. These stones are incredibly valuable and strong, and the riches they bring do a lot of good for the four's lives. However, their true nature becomes a pressing issue as more and more doors to the other world start to open and the Black Paradox four are forced to retrieve them...


This manga contains examples of:

  • Apocalypse How: Marisou predicts that humanity will cause its own extinction by using up all of their own souls.
  • Arc Number: The four friends' reasons for committing suicide all circle around duality.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: It's implied to be the reason why those who enter the spirit realm through their personal portal can survive the deadly environment of the realm. When they enter the realm, their soul finds their body and they merge together. As humans are normally separated from their soul, by merging, those four become more than human. That's also not counting the fact that entering their personal portal in the first place is making them closer to death than most people, as the portals are made from things they wanted to commit suicide for.
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  • Balloon Belly: When the jewels build up in Piitan's stomach faster than he can vomit them up, his stomach distends grotesquely, which is played for horror rather than laughs. Especially when he explodes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite Marusou predicting that the harvesting of Paradoxical Night will stop before the human race goes extinct because of it, and that technology will be revolutionised by Paradoxical Night, many people will die from the exploitation of their own souls.
  • Body Horror:
    • On par with Ito's other mangas, as the Paradoxical Night jewels come out of various parts of the friends' bodies. Then Dr. Suka starts cultivating the tissues to keep the gateways open and allow them to expand.
    • When Baracchi goes into the portal cultivated from her birthmark, she comes back looking horribly rotted. She dies shortly after, but fortunately this was a robot double.
  • Cast from Lifespan: At the ending, it's revealed that this is what will happen to humanity as the cost of rapid technological advancement. As the Paradoxical Night stones are the souls of humans, using them as energy will burn out the life of the humans themselves to the point of extinction. Though, as Marisou's future sight has seen, humanity will survive this, only because they will realize this effect before too long.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The stone Taborou randomly found lying on the ground and hit, re-energizing the Piitan robot turns out to have been the original Piitan's soul all along—this is how Piitan-bot survived entering Paradise and the Baracchi-bot didn't.
  • Doppelgänger: Taborou keeps seeing his, and believes that seeing it means that he's going to die.
  • Driven to Suicide: The four friends, which kicks off the strange events.
  • The Chew Toy: Piitan and robo-Piitan.
  • The Eeyore: Piitan and robo-Piitan.
  • Eye Scream: When Baracchi starts producing Paradoxical Night jewels from her birthmark, her eye is pushed aside.
  • Facial Horror: Baracchi pulls aside her hair to reveal a cluster of jewels crowding out of her birthmark.
  • Five-Man Band: A strange, dark, and not exactly heroic example of this basically shapes the five main character interactions with the Paradoxial Night.
    • The Leader: Dr. Suka. While arriving in the plot later than the other 4, he nevertheless has the most contribution toward the plot, finding the function of Paradoxial Night, making the gateway toward the spirit plane, and being the public face about the matter. It's exactly because he's the most conspicuous that humanity will hate him immensely when they realize the affect of using Paradoxial Night as an energy source.
    • The Lancer: Baracchi. She collaborates separately with Toborou and Dr. Suka to use the Paradoxial Night. Well-connected, suave, and intelligent, only when her fellow schemers work with her is the plot going smoothly. The moment when they abandon and betray her, the plot goes south, even when it doesn't seem like that at first.
    • The Smart Guy: Taborou. He's the main brain of the first scheme in using Paradoxial Night as a precious stone. He's also the first one who knows about the main power of stones, the one who suggests the get-rich-quick scheme, and is savvy enough to quickly see that something is wrong with the plot and pulls a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
    • The Big Guy: Piitan. His contribution to the plot is being the gateway and continuing to enlarge it. He's the go-to guy to throw into something strange or unknown to see what's happening, and he's the main guy to get the stones for most of the story. Being a robot is a plus.
    • The Chick: Marisou. A seer and possibly the only unambiguously good character, she's soft-hearted and empathic, tries her best to save Piitan when his condition gets worse, and the one who keeps the others alive and united. She also takes the role of Suka's love interest before Suka betrays her.
  • Foreshadowing: After being exposed to the power released by paradonite, the unconscious Baracchi dreams of numerous alternate lives. This foreshadows the fact that paradonite isn't just some stone that shows up in the spirit world—it's human souls in physical form.
  • Lighter and Softer: While still contain a lot of Ito's trademark, the story actually is much lighter on the scare and is more plot oriented.
  • Living Shadow: Taborou is haunted by his own shadow. When he turns especially paranoid, he hides in complete darkness so his shadow can not exist. As such, this becomes his door into the other world.
  • Mad Oracle: After Dr. Suka chains poor Marisou to her bed, her psychic intuition goes into overdrive, and takes her sanity with it, until the tumor is removed from her brain..
  • Missing Reflection: In chapter 1, Marisou eventually realizes that Baracchi has no reflection in the mirror. Because this Baracchi is the reflection.
  • Necessarily Evil: Paridonite will cause a massive energy and technological revolution that will aid humanity, yet will also slowly drive humanity extinct due to being their souls. When the others suggest simply not harvesting the stones, Marisou explains that if they do so, Suka will simply find/make more openings to Paradise. But, she notes, Suka will eventually be destroyed by his own breakthrough and they can protect their own souls (and implicitly enough to keep humanity extant as well), as long as they're the ones doing the harvesting.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What did the doctor see of Piitan's pylorus that freaked him out so bad? We never see. Presumably, he saw the afterlife.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Baracchi's hair perpetually covers one side of her face. Marisou realizes that the first Baracchi she meets is actually a mirror double when she has a different side of her face covered than she describes.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Piitan.
  • Power Walk: At the ending. The four main characters, after witnessing personally the spirit plane and gaining understanding of the Paradoxical Night's true nature, listening to Marisou's foresight of humanity's destruction and Dr. Suka's inevitable bad reputation in the future. They're then called to do their job of taking more Paradoxial Nights. Keeping the knowledge to themselves, they stoically walk out of their room to exact their revenge by proxy toward Dr. Suka.
  • Prophet Eyes: The main four gain them as a result of entering their gates.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The Piitan everyone else interacts with in most of the story is his robot double; the real Piitan dies when his portal explodes out of his belly. Given that Piitan's soul is moving the robot, it's more Body Backup Drive.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Robo-Piitan and robo-Baracchi.
  • Robot Me: Piitan helps to design and build a robot modeled after himself. Ironically, when Piitan's own Paradoxical Night gets whacked by Taborou with a hammer, this trope becomes all the more apt.
  • Seers: Marisou has a limited ability to see the future. It seems to come from the tumor in her brain. When Dr. Suka removes her tumor from her brain, the operation instead 'clicks' her brain into place and empowers her further into The Omniscient.
  • Two-Faced: Baracchi, who hides the birthmark on one side of her face behind her long hair.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Baracchi produces the first Paradoxical Night stone she retrieves from here.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Whenever Piitan vomits up one (or more) of the jewels.