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Manga / Suicide Island

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If you wish to die, you will find yourself on this island

Suicide Island (自殺島 , Jisatsutou) is a seinen manga by Mori Kouji that ran in Young Animal magazine from November 2008 to August 2016, with 17 volumes published. Although somewhat obscure in the West, its circulation in Japan was 1.5 million copies in October 2012.

Lately, Japan has been suffering from a surge in suicide attempts. Taking care of suicidal patients costs a lot of money, money that the government is not quite willing to spend on them anymore. So when a suicidal patient comes into the hospital bleeding, gagged or high on drugs, they ask a question: Do you really wish to die? If the patient answers yes, a waiver will be signed and everything will go peacefully black...

Only for the patient to awaken in an unknown place! A sign nearby explains their confusion. Since the patient does not wish to continue living, they have been legally declared dead to the government and have been sent to this Island, with everyone having washed their hands of them. Instead of the assisted suicide they were expecting, they have been flung away like garbage, into a corner that nobody cares about.

Of course, the government tells them that anything is allowed on this Island and there are no rules... except one: Do not even think of escaping. Escape is the only prohibition. Everything else is free to go, including ending your life or... assisting others in getting rid of their life.

The story itself starts off when Sei, a young teenager, ends up sent to the Island after another attempted suicide through drug-overdose along with other suicidees. They try to figure out what is going on, how this island is shaped and even begin to simply plan their lives here...

Note: Due to the subject matter, this manga is not for the faint of the heart and you can expect to see almost every suicide trope on the list. Viewer discretion is advised.

See Holyland for the author's other manga.

All character tropes go to the character page!

This work contains examples of:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Sawada's group ends up occupying the protagonists' camp for several chapters at the climax of the story.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Sei and Liv harvest several herbs to eat as salad, including leopard plant and tree fern sprouts. Those two plants are carcinogenic, and the latter can cause cyanide poisoning, as the scanlator points out.
  • Babies Ever After: most of the pairings on the island have children in the epilogue.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Quite a few characters are quite meek, even the main character. When push come to shove, however, they won't hesitate to harm and even kill people. Sei even burned down Sawada's village houses to rescue Tomo.
  • Bread and Circuses: Generally how Sawada chooses to keep a leash on his settlement. Highlights include routine orgies and Monstrous Cannibalism.
  • Cycle of Revenge: This is what Sei's campmates wish to avoid, because they can't sustain any continued fighting.
  • Deserted Island: The island seems to be uninhabited when our heroes arrive. We later learn that there are people here and it was once used as a prison island.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Kai manages to survive the death of Sawada and becomes the Final Boss.
  • Driven to Suicide: This trope is used in all possible ways:
    • Because of the over-boarding suicides in Japan, the government wanted to wash its hands of them and save money. So they just brought those who survived their suicide attempts to the island and leaving is not allowed.
    • Once on the island, many newcomers choose death again, very often just immediately after arriving here. Those who survive the first days still fantasize about this a lot.
    • Many other participants decide they prefer to restart their lives; others take the plunge and descend into hedonism, despair, and death. Sometimes with assistance. Kai on the other hand wants to convince the survivors to choose death again.
  • Eaten Alive: How Sawada ultimately meets his end, specifically at the hands of sharks who smelled his wounds from the climactic battle.
  • Embodiment of Vice: Sawada is the leader of another camp on the island. He's very arrogant, unscrupulous and even leads his camp into a war with Sei's camp.
  • Evolving Credits: A rare print medium example. At the beginning of many volumes we see a short paragraph on every character which changes after recent plot developments. This is somehow missing in later volumes.
  • Existential Horror: For most characters, their whole life is one existential horror, not knowing why they exist, if their lives matter and what purpose they have. Coming on this island just intensifies these questions.
  • Flashback: Almost every character gets one. We learn very much about their backstories and why they were Driven to Suicide, but the most we see is still the island.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The old man in the mountain averts this. He actively avoids human contact, yet is possibly the mentally healthiest person on the island.
  • Human Shield: The defensive tactics employed by Sawada and Kei.
  • Humans Are Bastards: A major theme of the manga is the adherence to first-world morality in the absence of a justice system: is it noble, or naive? What is the true nature of human beings? Sei's own admiration and respect for the forest fauna leads him to compare the worth of their lives with that of his fellow survivors, who often quarrel and cheat each other.
  • I Choose to Stay :The survivors ultimately choose to stay on the island and help others like them who struggle with suicidal ideation.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Rumor holds that, at least, the leader of one camp on the other side of the island has fallen to eating human flesh, which leads to Monstrous Cannibalism.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Liv is almost killed by Kai shortly after finding out she is pregnant with Sei's child.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Happens many times, most notably with Liv who is interrupted by Sei and chooses to go on living, although she's psychologically unstable.
  • Island of Misfit Everything: It's an island with people who rather chose death than to live in the outside world (Japan).
  • Island With A Dark Secret: The entire Island is unknown, except to the people on it and the higher-ups in the government. Outside of that, it first seems like a simple island that the suicidees are being dropped in, but according to the old man in the mountains, this island was originally a place to bring serial killers and murderers to.
  • It's All About Me / The Sociopath: Sawada again. He shows no mercy or remorse when he goes to war with Sei and treats his camp very badly.
    • Kai also firmly qualifies, since he admits freely that he cannot comprehend the positive emotions that drive other characters to continue living.
  • Meaningful Funeral: In chapter 12 the group has to bury a character they wanted to help but he died in his sickbed with some last words ("I want to live, don't want to die!"). They don't know his name and it's the first time that they grief over a death and sets the tone for what's to come.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Implied and used by said leader to control his camp. And quite effectively too.
    Sawada: (After killing someone with Molotov Cocktail) Tonight I'll eat meat for the first time in a long time.
  • The Needs of the Many: The survivors has developed into this since they decide to be alive, adopting the rule that those who don't work don't get to eat. There are those who just simply take food rather than earn it, but they are losing ground against the rest.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Arriving on this island was completely unexpected by anybody. And now they have to deal with the situation completely on their own.
  • Premiseville: It's called "suicide island" and is about suicide.
  • Robinsonade: They are all stranded on the island and have to make some kind of living, at least those who don't just choose death right away.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: The island was once inhabited but now there are just ruins of all the buildings (for example a school) left over.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Downplayed. Sei and Liv leave the commune after having arguments about Tomo to avoid infighting while still in the midst of threat from Sawada's group. It caused quite a stir, though.
  • Sex Slave: The fate of the women who ended up on Sawada's side of the island.
  • Shown Their Work: The author puts plenty of text explaining things, ranging from the "proper" way to cut your wrists if you want to die, how to make a bow and hunt deer with it, what goat meat tastes like, etc.
  • Small, Secluded World: The island is not big but you'd take quite some time to get around it. They try to leave but can't, because the Japanese government patrols the sea and shoots everybody on sight.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The view most male characters hold in regard to the female population on the island.
    • When Tomo comes out as transgender, a characters first response is saying sorry for having forced her to help protect the group with the other men. Kai takes this up to eleven before being told to shut it by Ryou.
    • When war breaks out between Sawada's faction and the good guys the women are taught archery by Sei.
      • Of course, it can be because the guys knows what WILL happen to the girls if they're captured....
    • Averted with Liv, who also went to rescue Tomo with Sei.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Sei knows a lot about hunting and preparing meat for being a self taught beginner. Doubles with informed disability.
  • Tarot Motifs: After some chapters tarot cards are shown with skeletons as a metaphor for death ("death toll"), very similar to the pictures from the time of the The Black Death.
  • Team Pet: Ikiru is Sei's hunting dog, but the other characters like him too.
  • Teenage Wasteland: It looks like only people under around 20 are on the island. It later turns out that one older guy is still living here, who is still left over from the time when prisoners were sent to the island, subverting this trope.
  • Teen Drama: The main cast consists of teenagers and their problems. This trope cannot get much darker when you take a look at the plot.