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MANGA: Sleeping Dead

Sleeping Dead – Asada Nemui

Earnest and well put together, Sada is a teacher that’s popular among both his colleagues and students alike. One day after school, while he was on patrol, he saw a suspicious figure attacking a female student with a knife. Unable to escape in time, Sada ended up losing his life. However, Sada woke up on a cold slab…

Asada Nemui-sensei is a mangaka whose works always stir conflicting emotions. From the icky yet funny tale of two brothers engaging in unbrotherly shenanigans in Ani No Chuukoku to the highly emotional story of loneliness that went straight for the jugular in Call, their stories are weird but so very, very compelling.

Sleeping Dead is another example, where your feelings are pulled in different directions.

Content warnings here are cannibalism, non-con bondage, non-con touching, bullying, rape, childhood trauma, animal abuse, and non-con amputation.

This is a stomach-churning horror story of a well-liked teacher turned into a cannibal zombie by a mad scientist. This is also one hell of a Stockholm Syndrome romance between a gay man and a could-be asexual, could-be neurodiverse loner so rigidly scientific in his mindset that torture and murder are just processes in an experiment.

Also, the mangaka doesn’t give us an if-evil-why-hot-villain you would immediately absolve of sins. Mamiya is a prematurely balding man who looks older but is the same age as his unwilling experimental subject, 30-year-old Sada, who looks conventionally attractive. The scientist is also one cold motherfucker.

To say their relationship is fucked up would be a huge understatement. Mamiya treats Sada like the research subject he is, strapping him to a table, conducting painful tests, and cutting him open without anesthesia.

The scientist and the zombie discuss kidnapping and murder at the dinner table since Sada can only survive by eating human flesh and blood. Logic justifies the kill, conscience considers morality, only for necessity or risk of exposure to force their hand. There’s also a low-key revenge scheme that may or may not be going on. Mamiya shrugs it all off, while Sada has to come to terms with his current state and actions.

Then, oh so stealthily, so very slowly, feelings started creeping in. Mostly because Sada is a good guy who still treats Mamiya decently even after everything. Despite being bigger than the scientist, it didn’t even cross his mind to punch the guy. Instead, he just tried to get along with him and thus brought out the good and vulnerable in Mamiya’s off-putting personality.

This is where I feel conflicted most because I started to see Mamiya’s redeeming qualities despite not wanting to like the bastard. I get pulled into their connection and end up rooting hard for this unlikely couple! And OMG, they are so adorkably awkward and surprisingly tender!

Then, they proceed to gut me with that ending…FUCKING HELL!!!

All in all, this manga is twisted, gory and the very definition of oddly compelling!

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