7 Billion Needles, Vol. 1 by Nobuaki Tadano
I was happy when I saw that Vertical was releasing some of their titles for the Kindle, but I already had print copies of the main series I was following like Twin Spica. I remember hearing interesting things about 7 Billion Needles, so I decided to give the first volume a try. Hikaru is a typical teenager, spending most of her time shutting out the world by keeping her headphones on. She’s a teenager with something other than angst churning inside her though. On a school trip she had an encounter with an extraterrestrial object that vaporized her body, leading to an alien intelligence named Ciel who reconstructed her body and establishes a symbiotic relationship with her.
Tadano does a good job establishing a slightly unsettling slice of life tone for this manga. Hikaru goes through her life someone aimlessly, and gradually more and more strange events begin to occur around her. Ciel makes contact and tells his host that he’s hunting an even worse threat – an entity called Maelstrom that might also be inhabiting a human. The title 7 Billion Needles refers to the needle in a haystack like task of hunting down an evil alien intelligence hiding somewhere in the human population. The manga is based on the Hal Clement novel Needle, and Tadano does manage to strike a good balance between the thought experiment vibe of classic science fiction and manga action as Hikaru and Ciel strike an uneasy truce and start hunting together.
The reading experience on my Kindle Paperwhite was just fine. I was intrigued by the first volume, and this is the type of digital series I can easily see myself stocking up on when I’m about to go on a trip and can’t haul around a bunch of physical copies of manga with me.