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Manga / Life (2002)

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Life is a Shoujo manga written by Keiko Suenobu that deals with harsh issues such as bullying, manipulation, and suicide. It ran from 2002 to 2009 in Bessatsu Friend and has won a Kodansha Manga Award. Life has also had a Dorama adaptation that ran in 2007.

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.

The publishers of the manga discontinued their license with Tokyopop at volume 9. As of March 1st, 2023, Kodansha USA has relicensed it and will release the entire 20 volume series digitally.

Life provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Manami Anzai, the resident Alpha Bitch at Ayumu's high school, is responsible for all the danger in the plot.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Katsumi may look like an affable person on the outside, but in the inside, he's one of Manami's lackeys; While Manami befriends Ayumu early in the series, the former's actions over the course of the series show that she's a self-absorbed, bullying Alpha Bitch.
  • Bullied into Depression:
    • The protagonist Ayumu began cutting herself after her former best friend said that she hated her. Ayumu's self-harm and suicidal ideation only became worse as Manami and her Girl Posse kept on bullying her.
    • One girl was literally bullied into suicide. She jumped off a school balcony in order to escape punishment from Manami, but it was a Bungled Suicide.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Many changes were made for the live-action adaptation, including changing Ayumu's Self-Harm habits to something less graphic and focusing more on the bullying.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Once the students finally realize that Manami persecuted Ayumu, forced Toda and Hiraoka to resign, and killed a wheelchair-bound student, they quickly turn on her.
  • Didn't Think This Through: 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.
  • Driven to Suicide: Attempts are made by various characters, leading to both Interrupted Suicides and Bungled Suicides.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After being subjected to horrendous bullying and manipulating throughout the series, Ayumu tells her mother about her self-harm, and reports photographic evidence of Manami's bullying to the police. Manami is sent to a reform school, though it's unclear how much of it seems to have an effect on her behavior. Even Katsuki gets a happy ending (though Your mileage may vary) in the form of calling out his abusive father, ready to get out from under his thumb.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The students and teachers are completely appalled to learn that Manami has not only persecuted Shiiba, but also forced Toda and Hiraoka to resign and killed a student in a wheelchair, all of which are serious crimes.
  • 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.
  • Hated by All: By the end of the manga, Manami has alienated everyone and become an academic pariah throughout her school.
  • Heel Realization: After one of the Girl Posse hears Manami talk about how she had Katsumi beaten up to get sympathy points, they realize how unstable she is.
  • Important Haircut: Ayumu cut her hair before entering high school, after a falling out with an old friend around the time of the entrance exams. Shortly after she enters high school and realizes that Manami is a truly despicable person, Ayumu gets her hair cut even shorter.
  • Intimate Healing: Ayumu gives Hatori water this way when she is unconscious from smoke inhalation.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Despite having her Girl Posse frequently mocking Ayumu, the fact that Manami's the daughter of a wealthy family meant that she got off scot-free. Karma does eventually come back to her when the students finally realize her true colors.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ayumu when she realizes how insane and dangerous Manami really is.
    • Ayumu and the other students have a moment of slack-jawed horror when they realize that Miss Toda has resigned from the school.
    • Manami, when the students and faculty finally learn about what happened to Ayumu, Toda and Hiraoka.
  • 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.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Manami, once the students and faculty realize that she's the one who's been persecuting Ayumu all this time and that her actions have triggered Toda and Hiraoka's resignations, instead tries to run off. It doesn't work.
  • 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, an abusive boyfriend who forces himself onto girls, has teachers who don't want to acknowledge the issues, and has parents who don't get their child's problems due to them not talking about it. As well as 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Manami gets more and more freaked out towards the end of the series. It starts when her fellow students begin suspecting that she tried to frame Hatori for cheating. Later, in Chapter 62, everyone finds out that she forced Hiraoka and Toda to resign, murdered at least one person, and caught her fighting Ayumu and school authorities had to intervene. They realize that she is the one causing the problems, and turn on her fast and hard. Laser-Guided Karma does not even begin to describe it!
  • Yandere: Manami. After she finds out that Katsumi never loved her and cheated on her throughout their entire relationship, she tries to kill him.

Alternative Title(s): Life