Nagasawa Takashi was an Ordinary High-School Student, passing his days studying and trying to attract the attention of his classmate Shirai Kyouko, until he was attacked by a strangely deformed rat. He returns to school only to hear about a strange serial killer on the loose, who attacks only at night and beheads his victims.
One night after school, he is attacked by a madman and briefly loses control of himself, killing the other man with his bare hands. Shortly after that, the doctor studying his case, who has been tracking him, tells him he has contracted an entirely new disease known as Nightshift, called this because it is active only between sunset and sunrise. Nightshift somehow affects its host's DNA before killing them; the dead hosts then rise as ravenous zombies.
Now Nagasawa is the only thing standing between the infected and the living. His disease cannot be cured, only slowed. His body is changing slowly into that of a monster. When he fights, he loses control of his mind.
And the zombies appear to be learning how to hide.
An ongoing horror manga by Shinsyu Ueda, Dawn Tsumetai Te ("Dawn Chilly Hands") is run-of-the-mill enough at first glance; but its focus on the psychological struggle Nagasawa undergoes as he fights the Nightshift, strong characterization, and the subtle sense of malice and insidiousness throughout the story makes it well worth a read.
This manga provides examples of:
- Badass Normal: Sagami Kou, whos evidently just a really good kickboxer. Though hes got to wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid infection.
- Being Good Sucks: For Nagasawa.
- Blessed With Suck: Nagasawa is capable of fighting off the Nightshift zombies. Unfortunately, should he stop taking his meds, he becomes one of them. And in the meantime hes got all sorts of freaky Body Horror going on.
- Body Horror: Nightshift is changing Nagasawa's body. He is definitely not okay with it.
- Body Motifs: Hands. Doc steeples his constantly; the Nightshift turns Nagasawas cold and clawed; Kyoukos are always warm
- Additionally, hands and arms are usually the focus of the chapter covers.
- Break Her Heart to Save Her: Somewhat subverted in that it's - at this point - pretty one-sided. Nagasawa tries to deny the obviously weird events transpiring around him to Kyouko, so as not to get her involved in his exploits (and so she wouldn't find out the effects Nightshift is doing to his body). It doesn't work, she finds out anyway, and from this, she and Nagasawa actually become closer.
- The Corruption: Nightshift.
- Curtains Match the Window: Nagasawa, who on the covers is alternately drawn with brown hair and eyes or red hair and eyes.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Kyouko is a mild version, particularly in early chapters.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Nagasawa, PTSD-flavor.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The creepy epidemiologist doctor whos basically Nagasawas handler is known only by the title Doc.
- Face-Revealing Turn
- Finger-Tenting: Doc does a variation of it, often.
- Freudian Excuse: The reason Kyouko doesn't like tall guys: when her dad divorced her mom, he tried to comfort her by patting her on the head, but he turned his gaze away from her and since she was so young and small at the time, she couldn't see his face fully, leading to a sort of a feeling of distance and separation between the two.
- Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: When in school, at home, or even fighting Nightshift, Nagasawas eyes are perfectly normal. But once he gets into a bad fight they narrow considerably, as well as turning white.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Nagasawa and Shirai.
- Hunter of His Own Kind: Which Nagasawa is fully aware of.
- I Lied: The Doctor with how he was keeping tabs on Nagasawa, but other than that he has been surprisingly honest.
- Jerkass: Doc, full stop.
- Last-Name Basis: Nobody uses Nagasawas first name.
- Law Enforcement, Inc.: Whoever Doc and, by extension, Nagasawa are working for.
- Limited Wardrobe: Nagasawa has never been seen in anything other than his school uniform.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: The Nightshift parasite is hungry. And nocturnal. And mutates its host.
- Mad Doctor: Doc definitely channels this vibe. It creeps people out.
- Manipulative Bastard: The Doctor breathes this trope. He shamelessly guilts Nagasawa into the whole zombie hunter thing.
- The Masquerade: What Doc and his lackeys are keeping up by having Nagasawa eliminate Nightshift infectees and then cleaning up the bodies.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Inverted. When Kyouko discovers the truth, she becomes one of Nagasawa's most trusted allies and best friends.
- Meaningful Name: In-series; the Nightshift parasite is called that because its nocturnal.
- Not Using the Zed Word: Averted; Kyouko uses zombies to describe the effects of the Nightshift.
- And Doc, at one point early in the story, compares it to a zombie and to vampirism.
- Ordinary High-School Student: Nagasawa in the beginning .
- Our Zombies Are Different: They're a virus animating a dead body, also they are not very infectious.
- Protectorate: What Nagasawa sees himself as. One of the few things keeping him sane at this point.
- Samaritan Syndrome: What Nagasawa develops as a result of fighting to protect Kyouko: he eventually starts feeling responsible for any deaths that happen at night, whether or not theres evidence that they were committed by Nightshift-infected.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Doc, repeatedly.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black
- Secret Identity: Averted; Nagasawa doesnt have one. He doesnt even change out of his school uniform for fights.
- Secret Keeper: Shirai
- Shipper on Deck: Araya, for Nagasawa and Kyouko, as evidenced here.
- Later with support from Emi.
- Spider-Sense: Nagasawa can sense other Nightshift hosts when they are close by.
- Super Strength: Nagasawa gets this, as it's one of Nightshift's symptoms.
- Take Over the World: What the Nightshift parasites are biologically geared for, by way of optimum infection.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Nagasawa, often. People notice.
- Transgender: Yuuki, one of the students infected with the mutated strain of Nightshift, is living as a woman in the end of the final chapter.
- Too Happy to Live: Kouno's family
- Viral Transformation: Nightshift
- The Virus: Nightshift, of the take over your body and slowly eat it from the inside out variety.
- Was Once a Man: Yeah, Nightshift were once people.
- What Have I Become?: Nagasawa again.
- You Are What You Hate: Doc hates the Nightshift...but has it himself.
- Zombie Apocalypse: What Nagasawa and Doc (maybe) are trying to prevent.