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Manga / NG Life

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Talk about double vision.

A shoujo manga based on the age-old tale of reincarnated lovers... with a twist.

Keidai Saeki, average Japanese high school student, remembers living an entirely different life as Sirix, a gladiator in ancient Pompeii; this means he has a hard time existing in the present, especially when no-one else seems to have memories of their own. Keidai exists in two worlds, one of which is long dead: His little sister in his past life is married to his former rival and they're now his parents, his male best friend is a cute girl with a crush on him, and his beloved wife Serena has been reborn as the short-tempered boy next door who's crushing on said best friend! And of course, Keidai is literally incapable of seeing them as anything but their past-life selves.

Life for Keidai is essentially a twenty-four-hour Mind Screw.


NG Life is a romantic dramedy by Mizuho Kusanagi, the mangaka responsible for Mugen Spiral, Yona of the Dawn, and Game×Rush. It ran in Hana to Yume from 2005 to 2009. Licensed for North America and published in English by TOKYOPOP, all nine volumes have been released as of July 8 2011.

This manga provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Serizawa's dad certainly thinks so. It becomes Hypocritical Humor when we discover that he draws ecchi manga as part of his job, and Keidai earns his respect by proving that 'girls in wet clothes are sexier than naked girls!'
  • Aloof Big Brother: Though they're not related yet, Raoul acts this way towards Sirix, particularly during the Pompeii arc.
  • Always with You: Loleus' dying words to Sirix.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Delos to Aglaia, due to working for a rival house.
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  • Chivalrous Pervert: Shinogu. He's happy to have a harem of high school girls, but he doesn't take advantage of them, as some clearly want him to. Almost definitely a result of a) still remembering having been a woman and b) because he hated, and still hates, men like that.
  • Crash-Into Hello: This is how Loleus and Sirix meet.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Delos forgoes escaping and dies in Pompeii, having remained behind to wipe out his family in revenge for their plot against Aglaia's house.
  • Declaration of Protection: Loleus had decided that he'd live for three people: Sirix, Serena, and Lady Aglaia.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Both Smyrna/Shinogu and Reina begin to defrost after their interactions with Sirix/Keidai, and it's implied that both have one-sided feelings for him, not that they'd ever admit it. Especially not Smyrna/Shinogu.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Keidai, unable to reconcile his feelings for Serizawa with his disappearing memories of Pompeii; Loleus, lying beaten and alone by the roadside.
  • The Determinator: When motivated by those he loves, nothing can stand in Sirix/Keidai's way.
  • Does Not Like Men: Smyrna big time, even when she gets reincarnated as a guy. The one man that she... perhaps didn't hate quite as much as the others happened to be Sirix.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: A standard part of Keidai's life; he even daydreams of times gone by.
  • First Girl Wins: In the long run, though technically when they first met Mii was Loleus, not a girl. Then again, aside from his parents, Mii was the first of Keidai's reincarnated friends/acquaintances to meet him in their new life, so it counts either way.
  • Foregone Conclusion: We all know what happened to Pompeii.
  • Friendless Background: Though he was befriended by Serena and appreciated her kindness, Loleus - as a slave - felt as if no-one would care if he died, until he met Sirix.
  • Gladiator Games: Everyone's past lives practically revolved around them: They were either gladiators themselves, worked as part of the games, or were part of families involved with the games.
  • Genki Girl: Serizawa.
  • Gothic Lolita: Reina dresses this way and affects a sarcastic demeanor more mature than her age.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Aglaia pushes Sirix, who's carrying a wounded Loleus, to safety just before the tunnel collapses.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Loleus had a double dose of this, as he carried feelings for both Sirix and Serena. This was basically why Loleus encouraged Sirix to pursue a relationship with Serena in the first place. Later, he says it almost word-for-word, no less.
    Loleus: "Sirix.... I want you to be happy. I want you and Serena... to be happy"
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death: When Sirix and Loleus face off in the arena. It gets averted, though.
  • Irony: Serena was reborn a boy because on her last day, she wished that she were a man, so she could accompany Sirix through crumbling Pompeii. At the time, Sirix smilingly replied that if that were to happen it would cause him problems; in their next life Serena is reborn as a guy, which does in fact cause Keidai problems.
    • Smyrna hated men but was reborn as a man. Her reincarnation Shinogu turns out to actually be glad about this as it means he can skillfully woo pretty girls, but he still continues to hate all other men except for himself and Yuuma. (And secretly, Keidai.)
  • Jumping the Gender Barrier: Hey, guess what? Your best guy friend who'd do anything for you is now a cute girl with a crush on you! Too bad you're still hung up on your past-life wife, who's jumped the gender barrier in reverse.
  • Love Confession: Once he realizes his feelings for Serizawa, Keidai has to do this about three or four times before she finally believes him.
  • Love Triangle: Complicated in both past and present!
    • In the past, Sirix and Serena loved each other, and Loleus was Sirix's best friend who harbored feelings for Sirix deeper than mere friendship, but Loleus also was friends with and loved Serena (though he completely disregarded the idea of pursuing her because he was a slave), and it's implied that it wasn't entirely unrequited either; In fact it was because of Loleus's feelings for both of them that caused him to pair them up!
    • In the present, Keidai's stubbornly hung up on his memories of Serena, but the fact she's been reincarnated into the very male body of Yuuma is a serious barrier for him. Serizawa on the other hand, has feelings for Keidai, but he's oblivious to both them and the fact that he's coming to have feelings for her too, because he can't stop seeing her as her past self, Loleus. And in the meantime, Yuuma develops a crush on Serizawa.
  • Magnetic Hero: Sirix. Nearly everyone at least respected him, and Keidai has a similar effect on people, despite being somewhat less impressive on the surface.
  • Meaningful Echo: "We'll meet again." You know, because... Reincarnation.
    • After meeting Loleus, Sirix pretends to have 'forgotten' why Loleus treasures that scrap of cloth; in a similar fashion, Keidai pretends to have 'missed' Serizawa's reply to his final confession.
    • The current lives of a number of characters turn out to be "meaningful echos" to wishes made by their past lives.
      • Serena was reborn a boy because she felt that if she were a man, she would've been strong enough to remain by Sirix's side when he went off to rescue Aglaia in the midst of Vesuvius's eruption
      • Loleus was reborn as the girl who would become Keidai's best friend, confidant, and ultimately love interest, because as Loleus was dying he told a grieving Sirix that even if he died, he'd be a "light who'd fly to his side" no matter where Sirix was.
      • Later we find out Reina is the reincarnation of Tina, a former slave girl who had a disfigured face and after being abandoned, was eventually rescued and cared for by Serena. She was reborn looking identical to Serena because she envied, admired, and wanted to be like her.
  • Meaningful Name: The series itself: NG Life = [Keidai's] No Good Life. After everything's sorted out, an epilogue chapter changes it to Nice Going Life.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Loleus treasures the strip of cloth Sirix used to bind his hand when they first met; his second-most treasured item is a gold headband Aglaia gave him after she saved him from the gladiator games.
    • Perhaps more accurately, Smyrna's ring in the past-life side-story.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Keidai's goodbye message during Shinogu's stint as a substitute teacher apparently sounds like a Love Confession.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Loleus to Sirix. Loleus was Sirix and Serena's matchmaker, but Loleus and Sirix were mighty close friends who went through a lot together and cared deeply for one another. While confronting Delos, Loleus basically admits that Sirix is his most important person; Now in their reincarnated forms, Serizawa still puts Keidai before even her own feelings. Subverted in that their bond in their past life was what paved the way for Loleus to be reincarnated as Serizawa in the first place, and ultimately become Keidai's love-interest.
  • One of the Boys: How Keidai treats Serizawa for most of their friendship, mostly because he can't stop seeing her as his male best friend.
  • Pair the Spares: While this may be one reason behind the popularity of the Yuuma x Reina ship, many fans simply seem to really like the way they interact with each other.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Sirix says it almost word-for-word as he cradles a dying Loleus.
  • Rape as Drama: Almost happens to Smyrna in a side-story; leads to a one-sided (and extremely well-hidden) Rescue Romance on her part when Sirix interferes.
  • Reincarnation: The centerpiece of the story, of course!
    • Reincarnation Romance: For Aglaia/Shuna and Delos/Souichi as well as Raoul, Aria, and their incarnations as Keidai's parents. Also for Keidai, eventually, though not the way he thought it would be.
  • Shout-Out: Keidai and Yuuma pose for manga-artists working on 'a romance between an assassin and a female bodyguard,' a reference to the mangaka's previous series Game×Rush, in which the male bodyguard was originally meant to be female.
  • Survivor Guilt: A large chunk of Keidai's unwillingness to move on is guilt; he blames himself for failing to save anyone and believes that his penance is to remember everything that happened, despite the fact that no-one could have predicted or prevented Vesuvius' explosion and that Sirix just died last.
  • Take a Third Option: When Raoul tells him that he can "only protect one thing" - go to Serena or rescue Loleus and Aglaia - Sirix refuses to choose. It... doesn't go so well and results in a form of crosslife Heroic BSoD.
  • Those Two Guys: The group of slackers that Keidai teams up with for volleyball become recurring extras. Lampshaded often with asides next to them indicating who they are (i.e. "I'm ______!").
  • Tsundere: Yuuma and Shinogu are extreme Type A's towards Keidai... particularly Shinogu, who exhibited identical behavior towards Sirix as Lady Smyrna. It's all but stated that bullying him with the Does Not Like Men persona is how Smyrna/Shinogu covers for actually caring about Sirix/Keidai.