Title: Can't Stop Cursing You Vol. 1
Author: Kensuke Koba
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
When dealing with supernatural elements such as curses and mysterious deaths, I feel like inspiration can be pulled from Death Note a little too much. At first, I must say that I was afraid Can’t Stop Cursing You Vol. 1 borrowed too much from the idea of external forces meddling in the human realm for their own pleasure. Still, this manga takes significant steps to differentiate itself while keeping you at the edge of your sear page after page.
Can’t Stop Cursing You, Vol. 1 introduces a few main players who push the narrative along in this volume. You have Kanta Yamazaki, a second-year student who isn’t too popular, Mikiya Nojima, the prince of the school, and Saeyama, a curse-breaker biology teacher. Each character plays a role in this deathly narrative, with Kanta being the more passive of the three.
The main players are Miki and Saeyama for a few reasons that the story doesn’t try to hide. The rules are simple; a curse god has made a contract with Miki to kill 30 people in a month. He uses his phone to commit these curse killings, but some conditions must be met for the person to die. The killer is revealed early on, and you can learn that from reading the back of the book. The real conflict is derived from the lengths that Miki goes through to hide from suspicion.
Saeyama is exceptionally clever, but unlike Miki, he doesn’t reveal his entire hand, not even to the reader. He has a power that helps him determine who made the contract, but it has its limitations. Through questioning and deduction, an attempt is made to find who is committing these killings.
To be a killer, someone has to be exceptionally wicked, and each panel of Miki’s inner monologue shows him sinking further into his own ego. It’s almost hypnotic in a way as you witness the thought process of the psycho and follow his every step. We see how he views his actions and justifies his killings, which is conveyed in some of the most beautiful and powerful illustrations I have seen in a manga.
Illustrator Natsuko Uruma has truly set the bar as high as it could for a manga in this thriller. Although Uruma knows how to do gore and action, they also display a soft and almost romantic haze to some panels. It works wonderfully. The characters’ eyes are something that they play with a lot as you’ll often see only one glaring from behind their hair. Further, the facial expressions up close are snarky and patronizing as each character feels like they have the upper hand in this tug-of-war.
The only downside of the experience is that I wish I learned more about Kanta. He’s such an average character who I really want to see become more of a Watson sidekick to Saeyama and provide a little more commentary on the situation. I’d also like to see him get a girlfriend, but I doubt that will happen.
Can’t Stop Cursing You, Vol. 1 takes the inspiration of Death Note but completely changes the rules on the reader. The writing for each character carefully established the rules of this cursed world without filling the pages with exposition. The illustrations also sold the experience as we witness the creation of pure evil, justified by the longing to fit the expectations of everyone around them. It must be hard being a prince.
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