Until Your Bones Rot
骨が腐るまで (Hone ga Kusaru Made)
Shounen – Horror, mature, mystery
3 Volumes of 7 Volumes (complete)
For years now, five friends have always met up to mark a certain anniversary. For them, it’s a ritual and a way to remember the sin they share. But as the fifth year passes, is their joint secret in jeopardy? Or are they keeping things from each other?
Until Your Bones Rot features five close friends. Shintaro is a bit emo and is considered to be the loser of the group by other people. Tsubaki is the cool beauty and is dating Akira, the student body president and a Shintaro fanboy. Ryu is a former delinquent. Haruka is outgoing and a former tomboy. The first chapter ends with the revelation that the five main characters have killed a man. They buried the body in a cave, and each year, they dig it up and swear to keep their secret.
But just after the fifth “ritual”, Shintaro finds a strange message warning him about Akira in an old yearbook. Akira then tells everyone they need to move the body since the area is going to be developed into a golf course. As Shintaro points out the body has already been moved, he gets a phone call. The person on the other end knows Shintaro and gang’s secret, and he starts blackmailing them. Shintaro plans on following orders until he finds a clue as to the blackmailer’s identity so he can kill him to protect their secret. The other four are a bit concerned that Shintaro jumps right to the idea of murder, but they each have their own secrets that could threaten their bonds.
Basically, this is one of those stories where there was a crime committed, but had the perpetrators gone to the police right away and revealed everything, they likely would have gotten little or no punishment. Instead, the lies have piled up, and there is likely a traitor among the friends. So it becomes a cat-and-mouse game and a deadly pursuit. The blackmailer hints that he knows of events even before that day, so the list of suspects must be fairly narrow. Readers will also wonder what pieces of the puzzle the characters are hiding.
I’d have to wait until the end to give an accurate judgement to see if the manga ties together well, but I’m guessing no one is going to come across as sympathetic by the end. Seeing the friends think about their family members is moving, and kids can do stupid stuff. (The adults also could have stopped the path Shintaro and company walked, but that’s besides the point.) The group would have been an interesting dynamic without the whole murder plotline, but I’m sure part of the intrigue is seeing how messed up the friends actually are. They have fallen apart already though, so maybe only one or two have dark sides.
In short, this is a dark, gruesome manga. If seeing teenagers dig up a dead body isn’t upsetting enough, well, the manga is only getting started. The first “request” they receive is to dispose of a dead body. That involves mutilating a corpse. The manga uses angles to hide the visuals of cutting up the body, but Until Your Bones Rot still shows plenty of blood. More significantly, the dialogue is rather blunt about the steps they’re taking, as they are following specific directions. This is not a manga for the queasy. Even though this series isn’t that long, I’m guessing the manga is only going to get worse as the ending approaches. There are some sexual situations as well, but if you can handle dead bodies, you can handle some groping and hidden nudity.
The art focuses a lot on the girls’ beauty. As you can tell from the cover, the manga doesn’t shy away from skeletons. The author does a good job showing the state of the characters’ minds — the crazed edge when killing is discussed, the bile rising in their throats, etc. Readers are treated to some visual hints about the blackmailer that Shintaro et al don’t have. The manga has many flashbacks as things are slowly revealed, but it’s easy to keep track of the new and old clues. I also like Shintaro’s design as sort of a slacker-emo hybrid, and the backgrounds and pacing are well done. All in all, the art really draws you in.
Honorifics are used. Footnotes are included.
Until Your Bones Rot is for people with stronger stomachs than me. I just don’t like seeing or hearing about corpses mutilated. That, and I think everyone is probably awful, and I don’t really care what happens to them.
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