After her best friend breaks off their friendship, Ayumu Shiiba begins to seek comfort through cutting her wrists. As she begins high school she hopes for a fresh start, and even makes friends with a girl named Manami Anzai. As she goes through high school however, she finds herself spiraling into more trouble.
Life is a Shoujo manga written by Keiko Suenobu that deals with harsh issues such as bullying, manipulation, and suicide. It ran for 20 volumes and has won a Kodansha Manga Award. Life has also had a Dorama adaptation that ran in 2007,
The publishers of the manga discontinued their license with Tokyopop at volume 9, but scanlators have began to try and finish it.
This series contains examples of:
- 0% Approval Rating: By the end of the manga, Manami has alienated everyone and become an academic pariah throughout her school.
- Adult Fear:
- Life is just full of this. The manga centers around bullying and self-harm. After her friend betrays her in a jealous rage, Ayumu begins to cut herself. Once she enters high school, she meets a girl who acts like her friend but turns out to be a bully in disguise. None of her family members know about her turmoils. To make matters worse, the teachers try their best to downplay the bullying and make it seem like nothing is wrong.
- Even after the whole school attempted to make her apologise to Ayumu, even after she tried to kill herself... your daughter Manami still says horrible things like "I bully who I want" and looks like a downright psychopath.
- Ambiguously Bi: Ayumu's interactions with some of her female friends can be taken this way, but she has a crush on a boy.
- Art Evolution: The art style starts off being somewhat rough but smooths out later.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
- Katsumi. There's one scene with him smiling with the most innocent smile ever, and there are others when he looks downright Obviously Evil.
- Manami. She starts off treating Ayumu like her best friend, but then later begins bullying her when she thinks Ayumu is trying to steal Katsumi.
- Compressed Adaptation: Many changes were made for the Drama adaptation, including changing Ayumu's Self-Harm habits to something less graphic and focusing more on the bullying.
- Driven to Suicide: Attempts are made by various characters, leading to both Interrupted Suicides and Bungled Suicides.
- For the Evulz: Later in the story, Manami outright admits that the reason why she tortures and bullies people is not because of any particular reason or because she's acting out; rather, she does it because it's fun. She even says that making people suffer is "ten thousand times better than sex."
- Gender-Blender Name: Ayumu's name is masculinenote , and she doesn't think it fits her.
- Heel Realization: After one of them hear Manami talk about how she had Katsumi beaten up to get sympathy points, Manami's Girl Posse realize how unstable she is.
- Intimate Healing: Ayumu gives Hatori water this way when she is unconscious from smoke inhalation.
- Reality Ensues: Manami learns the hard way that when your classmates discover that you're willing to force two teachers to resign and murder one of your own students, everyone will turn against you.
- Rich Bitch: Manami's father is the CEO of a large corporation, so she's spoiled rotten and is able to manipulate her father into making anything go her way. The teachers comply with anything he says, mostly because they're too afraid of what the media would think otherwise.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Ayumu and Hatori have a very deep friendship.
- Self-Harm: The series revolves around this. In the Live-Action Adaptation, Ayumu cuts her hair; in the manga, she cuts her arms and legs.
- Spiritual Successor: It's this to an earlier manga by the mangaka, "Vitamin". Both focus on a sensitive girl who gets bullied, a Bastard Boyfriend who forces himself onto girls, teachers who don't want to acknowledge the issues, parents who don't get their child's problems due to them not talking about it, suicide attempts, Important Haircuts. The main difference is how both protagonists react to their bullying for most of the manga, and the fact that Vitamin takes place in junior high.
- Teens Are Monsters:
- Ayumu's best friend, Shi-chan, telling her in a jealous rage that Ayumu was a burden to her and saying, "I wish you were dead!" And this is what starts the plot.
- Manami. She's manipulative, bullies anyone who doesn't fit into her Girl Posse, and is the ringleader of all of the bullying against Ayumu, Hatori, and just about anyone who doesn't comply with her. She later begins trying to kill people, and even after Ayumu saves her life, Manami says that she bullies people because it's fun.
- Katsumi. He traps Ayumu in his house, ties her up, and takes photographs of her bound up and nude - which he constantly threatens to reveal to others, alongside her self-harm scars - and when Ayumu throws his cell phone into a puddle, he convinces the onlooking students that it's because she's jealous of Manami's and his relationship. And Ayumu is far from being the first girl he's photographed like that!
- Pretty much the entire student body. Most students are quick to engage in bullying others, doing things like wrapping Ayumu up in a photography blanket and rolling her into the wall several times, trying to force her to swallow needles, and even throwing her desk out the window. And then when it's revealed that Manami is the real bully, they're just as quick to turn on her, showing no remorse for the students they victimize.
- Third-Person Person: Manami refers to herself as "Manami" or "Mana" a lot.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: One of the translations has Ayumu saying "It's karma, bitch", at Manami.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite kickstarting the events of the entire series, Ayumu's ex-best friend Shi-chan is never seen again after the first chapter. Subverted in the j-drama as she is killed off.
- Yandere: Manami. After she finds out that Katsumi never loved her and cheated on her throughout their entire relationship, she tries to kill him.