Wild, adrenaline fueled action, mechanical suits of armour, weird creatures, time loops and more . All You Need Is Kill has it all.
Join Cryptte on the latest episode of Lyfeblerd as he leaps headfirst into this seinen tale. Will it make it into your reading list or drag you into another loop?
In this episode I’ll be covering the seinen light novel, All You Need Is Kill, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by Yoshitoshi ABe.
This is a gem I got as a gift (thanks Vanteya), but one I had on my reading list after watching 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow. The movie adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, changed quite a bit, but still had me pumped full of adrenaline and craving more all the same. It was my first contact with the IP.
The world is under invasion from creatures humanity has named Mimics. Impervious to conventional weapons, the United Defense Force (UDF) has developed manned mechs called Jackets to help in the war effort. They’re less robots and more technological suits of Armour.
Our hero, Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit, fresh out of training when he is killed in his very first deployment. Only, he doesn’t stay dead. In the vein of movies like Groundhog Day, Keiji awakens roughly 30 hours before the mission and his death.
Naturally, he tries to find a logical reason but Keiji eventually comes to terms with his new reality and must figure out how to escape the loop.
The original light novel was published in Super Dash Bunko, an imprint of Shueisha, in 2004. Besides the movie, a manga was also released in 2014 and compiled into two tankobons (volumes). The English language translation of the novel was published in 2009 by Viz Media’s imprint, Haikasoru.
Plus & Minus
Regarding the strengths of All You Need Is Kill, I have to start with the writing. Sakurazaka-san has a wicked sense of humour and he’s able to paint a picture of being in the military. Albeit one that’s a mishmash of different nationalities.
He also explains the ease with which these people are able to communicate with the introduction of English Burst. It’s a simplified or watered-down version of the English language. For me, I hear something like Pidgin.
The dialogue is witty, with lots of cursing, just like you’d expect from a mixed bag of military personnel.
He also likens the soldiers to machines with CPUs often, and it works. The uniqueness of his time loop angle also reinforces this. It’s easy to see the level of thought that went into this.
My biggest gripe with the story is how short it is. A fast reader could finish it in a few hours. I’m slow and yet, a day of doing nothing else is all it takes to finish. It’s more of my issue with light novels in general, and I’m glad the book tells a concise story, but I’m left wanting more.
His description of the Jackets were also a bit difficult to imagine. It could be that I was in too much of a hurry getting to the juicy bits and missed the details though. That’s known to happen.
Lastly, I wish Sakurazaka-san had given us more time with some of the other characters like the loud mouthed Yonabaru and battle hardened Ferrell. The Novel is deadly serious but there are so many fun moments in there that will leave you wanting more.
I love All You Need Is Kill. It’s a sci-fi, seinen light novel filled with blood, guts and grease, with a sprinkling of witty banter and great characters on top.
Reading it in preparation for this episode was my second time and immediately after I finished I wanted to start all over again. My first time through it I hadn’t become a coffee fiend but now I can’t see how I can take a mug without remembering the book.
Thinking about it, All You Need Is Kill feels like a delicious brew with an aroma that tickles your imagination and a taste that will get raring to take on any challenge ahead.
Definitely a must read for fans of seinen, sci-fi, military drama, and mechs. Just be prepared for the gore and foul language.
So here’s my recommendation if you love All You Need Is Kill. Pick up the novel Genocidal Organ by Project Itoh for some more dark science fiction, or kick things up a notch with the manga Gantz, by Hiroya Oku.
If you aren’t a fan or not interested in All You Need Is Kill? Then try the light novel Full Metal Panic! for some lighthearted military, mecha action, written by Shoji Gatoh. Another good one is the time travel manga Erased, written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe.
- Full Metal Panic! written by Shoji Gatoh (light novel).
- Erased written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe (manga).
Thank you for listening to this episode and I hope that I’ve been able to put All You Need Is Kill on your radar. If you’d like to pick it up, follow the link in the show notes. I’ve also linked the other books I recommended, and purchasing using them would greatly help out the podcast.
Thanks again and see you in the next loop.