Keiji Kiriya, the hero of All You Need Is Kill, is a rookie soldier who’s killed in his first battle but can’t stay dead: Each time he dies, he comes back to the same moment and relives it. With mankind locked in a battle with killer aliens, Keiji uses his strange reincarnation to train himself to be a super-soldier and save humanity.
All You Need Is Kill started out as a light novel, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by alt-manga artist Yoshitoshi ABe. Now it’s back as a manga, adapted by Takeshi Obata, who is well known to English-language readers as the artist of Hikaru No Go, Death Note and Bakuman.
The manga launched on Saturday and is being serialized simultaneously in Viz Media’s digital magazine Shonen Jump and the Japanese Weekly Young Jump. Shonen Jump is kicking it off with a special Obata-theme issue that features chapters of Hikaru No Go and Bakuman as well as the first chapter of All You Need Is Kill.
And there’s more All You Need Is Kill on the way: The novel forms the basis for the film Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, which will be released this summer, and Viz, which published the light novel and is publishing the manga, is also producing an original graphic novel based on the story.
We talked to Alexis Kirsch, the editor of the English edition of the manga. We also have a preview of the manga, which is available in this week’s Shonen Jump.
Robot 6: From the description, this book looks like Groundhog Day but with war instead of love! Can you give me a quick idea of what it’s about?
Alexis Kirsch: The concept is similar in that the main character is stuck in a time loop and reawakens to the same moment every time he dies. He decides to use the loop to train himself to be a super soldier in order to hopefully win the war against the deadly aliens that humanity is battling against. No Bill Murray, though!
Tell me a bit about the main character, Keiji. What do we know about him as the story opens?
All we really know is that he is a young soldier who has yet to step on to the battlefield. He’s grown-up in a world that has been fighting the Mimics for decades and because of that seems a bit numbed to reality. We will get a better look at Keiji’s personality as he starts to take advantage of what being in the time loop can do for him.
And Rita Vrataski — what do we know about her?
We know she is the best Jacket soldier in the world. She is small but once in her battle armor she is unstoppable on the battlefield. She is vicious against Mimic enemies and has painted her armor red for some reason.
As an editor, what do you like about this series so far and what do you find challenging? How is it different from the other manga in Shonen Jump?
I like the way Keiji deals with his predicament. As you can see at the end of the first chapter, he gets over the shock pretty quickly and almost treats it like a game. This is no whiny, mopey main character. The only challenging part is keeping the same terminology as the novel version. I need to take an extra step and compare some of the scenes to make sure they are translated in the best possible way. The process is not particularly different from other manga that we are serializing.
Do you know how long the series will go on?
For however long it takes to tell the story of the novel. The original story isn’t incredibly long so we expect about enough to fill two or three graphic novels.
All You Need Is Kill started out as a light novel with illustrations by Yoshitoshi ABe. What was the reception like in Japan? How is the manga different from the light novel?
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the author of the novel, is quite an established writer of light novels and science fiction. All You Need Is Kill was nominated for a prestigious Seiun award for best science fiction novel, so it was definitely both a commercial and critical success. His first novel was Yoku Wakaru Gendai Maho (Modern Magic Made Simple), which was adapted into a successful anime as well as a manga series.
Based on chapter 1, the manga is very faithful to the novel. Whether it diverges at some point remains to be seen. Obata Sensei definitely didn’t shy away from the violence depicted in the novel.
How does this manga tie in to the movie?
Both are based on the same source material, but I’m sure there will be some pretty major differences. Just based on the Edge of Tomorrow trailer, one obvious difference is that with Tom Cruise as the star, the movie’s main character is a lot older than Keiji. There are probably some other changes made in order for the movie to tell the story in around two hours and I’m looking forward to finding out when the movie comes out in June.
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