Science-fiction is one of my favourite genres for essentially all media that I consume, including but not limited to films, books, and video games. I also adore the genre within the manga medium but tend to have a challenging time discovering works that have been officially translated into a language that I can read fluently that also fits my specific brand of sci-fi tastes. Planetes by Makoto Yukimura and Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow are two of three sci-fi manga serials that, once introduced, helped evolve my interests as an otaku. The third is an underrated series known as ES: Eternal Sabbath by the immensely talented Fuyumi Soryō (Mars).
Eternal Sabbath has always held an extremely special place in my heart because it was not only my first science-fiction series, but it was also the first manga that I read that wasn’t Initial D. So, it had a rather large influence on my newly budding persona as a bookish otaku. Today, I wanted to bring your attention to ES and encourage you to try it out if you haven’t done so already. Check out the synopsis below along with four reasons why this manga is totally worth your time!
It’s a seinen, sci-fi thriller about a young man named Ryōsuke Akiba, who is refers to himself via a codename taken from a scientific experimentation, ES. He shall live to be over two hundred years old. He possesses unique mental abilities that allow him to enter an individual’s mind, to uncover their darkest secrets and even re-arrange them as he wishes so that complete strangers will view him as a member of their own family. Ryōsuke doesn’t act out from a sense of malice or malignant manipulation. What he does, he does in order to survive. He travels around Tokyo, utterly unsuspecting, until he encounters a research scientist named Dr Mine Kujyō, someone that shall challenge Ryōsuke about what he knows of himself, while he in turn alters her perspective on the mysterious ES gene.
Small Volume Count
Eternal Sabbath has a distinctive beginning, middle, and end that all span a humble number of volumes, making it perfect for folx that may not have the availability to devote to something much longer (i.e.: Naruto, Demon Slayer, or Attack on Titan). With only 8 full-sized volumes, it becomes incredibly easy to binge the entirety of it within a day or so.
Soryō is one of my favourite mangaka because I adore her use of thin lines and precision details. Plus, the panels are always so neat and aesthetically pleasing to my OCD. Even if there is a lot going on within the pages, such as a lot of action or a hefty use of dialogue, it’s never disorienting as some other manga that I’ve read. There is an eloquence to the way that she draws the settings, and her character designs are exquisitely tender yet provocative.
Compelling Sci-Fi Story
The story of there being a human who was genetically altered to various degrees in a manner that allowed him to live for over two centuries is marvellously fascinating. I’m a big fan of genetic sciences and manipulation in my sci-fi, especially if it’s a thriller or horror subgenre. The mystery behind the ES genes are revealed in a slow-burn manner that builds intrigue upon suspense upon tension, and then when everything is eventually unveiled, it leaves the reader with some thought-provoking musings on morality and the human’s obsession with immortality. In many ways, it reminds me of the Mutants from the X-Men franchise where the debate of superiority is quite often brought up.
Excellent Examination of Nature vs Nurture
The number one reasons why you should read Eternal Sabbath if you haven’t yet, is because of the Nature vs Nurture examination. Psychologically speaking, it’s one of my favourite discussions in any narrative to have because it is one that constantly evolves with neither side ever holding on to a higher dominance over the other for very long. As humans evolve and become more inherently unpredictable in some ways, so do the theories that surround this concept.
In ES, we get a wonderful look at what happens when a character is introduced to a more nurturing and compassionate environment, gifted with the kindness of others, versus ones that are extremely sterile with their upbringing; all science and lab-rats with no sense of human emotion to build character upon. The parallels and divergencies is something that truly brings the narrative and the sci-fi facets of the overarching plot alive in a fantastic manner. That’s where the true essence of thriller comes to play within ES as well.
As you can see, even though ES: Eternal Sabbath is an older manga series, it has much to offer the new generation and budding manga readers, as well as veterans of the medium out there, especially if you are a fan of mature-themed, science-laced thrillers with gorgeous artistry and a wonderfully fitting narrative length.
Native: エス エターナル サバス
Genre: Science-Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Del Rey (2002-2006)
Total Volumes: 8
Content Warnings: Blood. Violence. Telepathic manipulation. Child abuse. Sexual content (on-page). Nudity. Mild cursing. Scientific experimentation on humans. Images with needles. Animal death. Animal injury. Child death.
GoodReads: ES: Eternal Sabbath