No. 6 – Atsuko Asano & Hinoki Kino: Series Review

No. 6 was originally a novel by Atsuko Asano. It was adapted into a manga by Hinoki Kino that ran in Aria magazine from 2011-2013. It was picked up by Kodansha USA in June 2013 and the last volume was published in October 2014.

Cover of Final Volume

Cover of Final Volume

The Gist: The story is set in “No. 6,” a future model city in 2013. Raised as a top-ranking elite since the age of two, a boy named Shion lives in an exclusive area in No. 6. On the night of his 12th birthday, he rescues a boy who calls himself “Rat”. Rat ran away from the city’s Special Security Area. From that moment on, Shion’s life is changed forever…

The Review: No. 6 is a clash of opposites that in their contrasts create a mesmerizing story. Violent yet innocent. Ugly yet beautiful. It’s almost impossible to put down once the story has begun. The plot is very engaging and keeps readers engrossed in the events around No. 6. However, it is the characters that make this story remarkable.

Shion represents the inner turmoil of the utopia that looks serene on the outside. His transformation in the story is one full of symbolism. While his experiences in the story continue to change him, there is always a constant right beside him – Rat. Rat is like the essence of nature, wild and untamed, seeking nourishment and sunlight. Shion becomes the sunlight for him. Full of inner fire and purity, he is willing to risk his life for friend and family – something Rat has been told to never do his whole life. Rat admires Shion and wants to protect his naivety, but the events around No. 6 make that extremely challenging. No matter what occurs, though, Rat and Shion continue to endure it together.

I found the relationship between the two characters poignant and charming. Honestly, I was hesitant to read this because I wanted to avoid the shounen-ai in the story. But the relationship in the story is so touching that I began not to care what gender the characters were. That proves how engaged I was with the characters and how well No. 6 is written.

A memorable scene where  Rat teaches Shion to dance. Art and paneling.

A memorable scene where Rat teaches Shion to dance. Art and paneling.

The Art: The art in this series is fantastic! I love the character designs. The two boys look really cute together! The paneling flows really well including a lot of action sequences. The story demands some rather detailed settings and I thought Hinoki Kino did a fabulous job of bringing it all to life. Some of the scenes were so gruesome at times, but it made the story that much more impactful. The colored pieces for this series were rather beautiful as well. I really liked the color palettes used on the covers. Kodansha USA included quite a few pieces of colored work in volume 8 of No. 6 which was a really pleasant surprise. I highly enjoyed getting to see the title spreads in glorious color. So thanks to Kodansha!

My favorite color insert of Shion and Rat reading together.

My favorite color insert of Shion and Rat reading together.

The Audience: This is rated Teen 13+ most likely for the violence and gore. There’re only a couple of kisses. While I see this being a hit with shounen-ai readers, I also think anyone who likes the recent boom of dystopian series like Hunger Games and Divergent will enjoy this.

The Media: No. 6 is available from Kodansha USA in 9 volumes. There is also the 13 episode anime that can currently be streamed off of Crunchyroll.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

I really hope No. 6 did well for Kodansha USA. It was a well-drawn title for ARIA. The artist Hinoki Kino now has her own series in ARIA called Setsuna Graffiti. It has two boy protagonists so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was also shounen-ai.(I haven’t read ARIA lately so I wouldn’t know.)

I’m so glad I picked this up. I would have missed a remarkable story otherwise. Now I need to go watch the anime!

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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  • […] vol. 3 of Mushishi (Experiments in Manga) John Rose on vol. 1 of No. 6 (The Fandom Post) Laura on No. 6 (Heart of Manga) Jessica Uelmen on Ouran High School Host Club (The Mary Sue) Lori Henderson on […]

  • “Honestly, I was hesitant to read this because I wanted to avoid the shounen-ai in the story. ” This line came off as a little odd, do you mean that you don’t like BL or did you mean that you don’t like queer-baiting and wanted to avoid that kind of story? Or did I completely miss the mark here and really need an explanation?

    • I don’t usually like BL. I’ve read a few titles and it’s not really my preference. This story stood out to me because it was an exception.

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