Manga Analysis: Zombies & Cults in Fort of Apocalypse

I recently read Fort of Apocalypse (Apocalypse no Toride) and figured since this is a Christian blog (lol), why not combine my two favorite things? Those things being Jesus and horror, specifically zombies. The Bible is actually full of a lot of violence and gore; people are burned alive, dismembered, impaled with tent poles…

*some spoilers*

Fort of Apocalypse is about a child, Maeda, falsely accused of murder and consequently sent to prison. Things are already not vibing for him when the world is overcome with zombies that quickly eradicate any sense of normalcy, and most of humanity, leaving the prison as one of the few safe havens.

The story begins as a pretty typical-ish zombie tale of Maeda ft. his squad trying to survive. Except the zombies move as giant zombie pillars controlled by the Bokor, who is like an advanced zombie with mega lungs and 5475489 pupils. There are (fight or flight warning: click at your own risk) zombie dogs and zombie seals. Truly an aesthetic. Maeda himself turns out to be a Bokor, with the ability to control the zombies, after one of them goes yandere and tries to eat him.

Notably, there’s a religious quack who manages to convince others, including a young woman named Daisy trapped on a yacht with a bunch of zombies, the zombies are actually angels and the Bokor is Jesus. Ideas that are bolstered by the fact that, when they step onto land, the zombies ignore them, solidifying their belief the Bokor is the Child of Light.

Even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, there’s always that one overly spiritual mf.

They also somehow manage to out-woke probably the most wokest of the woke by claiming zombies have rights.

woke level: infinity

The Child of Light Cult is introduced via Daisy and Corporal Hatt, when they arrive at the prison. Daisy and Hatt cosplay as military and promise the prisoners safety, lying to them about their families being alive and well. In reality, they’re just looking for many-pupiled Jesus the Bokor whom they believe is among the prisoners. Hatt initially comes off as a kind, fatherly figure, very similar to how Jim Bob Duggar cult leaders portray themselves as kind overseers of benign patriarchy trying to shepherd their sheep into Heaven. However, the actual, literal second it becomes clear Maeda is also a Bokor, homeboy drops all pretenses, assaults Maeda, and reveals himself to be a man only concerned with gaining immortality and power. When that doesn’t work out, Hatt ditches Daisy, leaving her at the mercy of hoards of angry men, in jail for various crimes, who have just been lied to about their families and haven’t seen a woman eons.

While Corporal Hatt is the cult’s leader, Daisy, a young, conventionally, attractive woman, does most of the speaking which I found interesting. I’ve blogged about the danger of women like Mrs. Midwest who cushion their harmful, nonsense ideologies like the red pill with cherry-picked Bible verses because they’re pretty, well- spoken, and palatable to those who aren’t extremely radical in their beliefs, which is precisely why she’s dangerous. Women like Mrs. Midwest are far more effective at propagating cult-ish ideas, despite their danger, because they cushion these ideas with fun stuff like baking, wearing dresses, being kind and motherly, i.e. good things that are worthy of pursuing.

Daisy too functions as the cults face, despite the fact she isn’t actually the leader and is left behind by the man who was suppose to take care of her. I could list other prominent super conservative women, like Tomi Lahren, Lauren Southern, Lauren Chen too but similar to how these women have been attacked by their own bases for not living up to what alt-right men claims is the ideal, feminine women, Daisy is abandoned by Corporal Hatt as soon as she’s objectively no longer useful to him.

I don’t actually have anything deep to say on this topic, but I found the comparison interesting.

Any who, while I would in no way encourage anyone to read Fort of Apocalypse because it’s pretty violent, dark, and gory (so obviously I loved it), it does illuminate how cults are often born in dire circumstances and how the men in them are happy to prop up young women, so long as those women say and do exactly what they want. But the moment those women are no longer useful to their cause (and rarely does that cause have anything to do with God’s will, so much as it is about fulfilling these men’s desires for power), their true colors come out. They aren’t really kind, fatherly figures wanting to lead their followers to salvation, but selfish individuals interested only in self-gain. Quite the opposite of what the Bible says leadership really is.

As for Fort of Apocalypse itself, it’s full of action, bromance, and scary critters. So if you’re looking to have nightmares about zombie dogs, or if you have a high-tolerance for creepy things, this is the manga for you.

Fort of Apocalypse Rating: 7.1/10

Webtoon Analysis: All of Us Are(n’t) Dead

I’ve spent every spare second playing Horizon Forbidden West and I’m trying to get my A+ cert for my job but *see above*. All in all, -0/10 for productivity. Nevertheless, I found yet another way to be unproductive and finished All of Us Are Dead.

Since I haven’t uploaded anything in like 1000 years, I thought I’d blog about this.

*spoilers*

All of Us Are Dead, by Joo Dong-geun (also known as Now At Our School), is a South Korean zombie apocalypse fiction taking place in a school. The story centers around a group of students at Hyosan High trying to survive as a zombie outbreak ravages their city faster than Red Bull pulled out of Russia. There are loads of characters who’s names I’m not gonna list, but I want to contrast Nayeon/Gwinam to Suhyeok/Namra because both duos want to survive. The former solely focus on their own self-preservation and desires, whilst the latter show incredible bravery and selflessness in trying to ensure their classmates survive too. (side note: it’s also a k-drama but I don’t really watch TV so can’t comment on the quality of that)

Notably, the government is semi-effective, rapidly quarantining Hyosan to prevent the infection from spreading and even dropping a sleep bomb on the zombies despite woketavists out-woking the wokest of us by insisting zombies have human rights. I found this level of competence from the government even more unbelievable than Mr. Lee, the science teacher, leaving zombie hamsters in the middle of his unlocked classroom. My dude’s sheer stupidity caused countless of deaths because he literally couldn’t keep those Hamsters home, or in glass cages with air pockets (albeit, apparently the k-drama does fix this incredible lapse of judgment).

Anyway, it’s these zombie Hamtaros who bite one his students, Hyeon-ju, setting off a chain reaction of sickness and sending the students of Hyosan scrambling to find ways to survive.

By comparing Gwinam and Nayeon to literally any other character in this story (including various zombies), but particularly to Namra and Suhyeok, we see all four want to survive but only one duo will do so by any means necessary. While initially the students hunker down and wait for help, once they realize they’ve been abandoned by adults (most of whom are relatively useless anyway) and are unlikely to be rescued by the government, they attempt to escape themselves.

Gwinam had negative fifty redeemable traits. He uses another student as a shield, and eventually eats her but only after assaulting a different female student. Didn’t help he was somehow immune to the zombie virus, so he’d also gotten a taste for human flesh. It’s giving every story needs an additional villain in an already terrible world to make things worst for the characters energy. In contrast, Suhyeok spends most of his time aiding others, even going back out into the wild to forage for food. It’s thanks to him (in part) that the surviving students make it to roof and are able to escape out into the woods and eventually to freedom.

Similar to Gwinam, Nayeon is so focused on not becoming a zombie, she loses her humanity without ever getting bitten. Her fear of death and selfishness frankly would have been forgivable because not everyone is a hero. However, Nayeon not only accuses her classmate, Gyeong-su, of getting bitten and turning into a zombie, she intentionally infects him just to prove a point resulting in his demise. Consequently, the students realize they can’t trust her and lock her away, dooming her to a slow and lonely death. In contrast, class president Namra goes out to find food for the others. After being bitten and realizing she’s also got a taste for flesh, she manages to control herself several times until eventually, after the group escapes out into the woods, she realizes the danger she poses to others and separates herself. It’s the ultimate sacrifice really and exemplifies the verse, “no greater love has one man than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

While all of the characters understandably want to live, Gwinam and Nayeon only care about themselves and as they say “[t]he attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death.” Namra and Suhyeok show immense bravery and selflessness in being unwilling to abandon their classmates and doing everything they can to ensure they survive. Consequently, they do end up surviving… so I guess all of them aren’t dead, which makes sense since the English translation appears to be whack.

Admittedly, the webtoon isn’t as thrilling and fast-paced as other monster survival tales (like Sweet Home/Shotgun Boy) and the art work is definitely an aesthetic not everyone will appreciate. But the story has a lot of heart. Like literally you will see lots of organs, hearts, and blood strewn everywhere because… zombies.

All of Us Are Dead Rating: 7/10

Webtoon Reviews: Lookism Is a Mess

Major Spoilers.

Lookism, by Park Tae-joon, is an ongoing manwha that chronicles the woes of Daniel Park, who’s name is actually Park Hyung-seok but apparently webtoon thinks we can’t read Korean names.

Daniel is fat, “ugly” (he wears glasses), bullied relentlessly by his “peers”, and is low-key a jerk to his mother. He moves schools, moves homes, is still treated badly but bam! He wakes up one day with a second body aka Hot Daniel – taller, muscular, naturally athletic – perfection. When he falls asleep, he wakes up in his fat body (or whichever body isn’t awake).

Lookism | WEBTOON

Lookism began as a really interesting commentary on, well, lookism in Korean society. How people are treated vastly differently solely because of their looks. This is seen clearly in how Hot Daniel rapidly obtains friends, benefits, friends with benefits, expensive clothes, even gets a job as a model solely because of his immense hotness. All things his portlier self struggled to obtain. Not only is he attractive, but his natural, athletic abilities and fighting skills allow him to curb stomp the very bullies who once tormented him.

Author Park Tae-joon does a good job letting Fat Daniel grow as a character too and not just side-lining him. Fat Daniel also levels up; he begins working out, eating well, gets a job, realizes how poorly he treated his mother. Rather than begrudge the fact his more attractive version is treated better by society, he uses his time as Fat Daniel to better himself physically and socially, and consequently gains some of the things he always wanted (admiration of Zoe, his own harem of amigos).

Then, there was the added mystery of why is Daniel waking up in a different body? Where did this body come from? T’was a nice touch of the supernatural in a story that was very much grounded in reality.

However, at some point Lookism went from being a critique of lookism to seemingly a critique of Korean society as a whole to a fight manwha. We get an arc on the perils of social media, an arc on stalkers, an arc on cults, multiple references to bullying and drug usage, a Hostel arc dealing with youth homelessness and human trafficking, yet until Jiho’s arc (which is really a critique of the jail system) the story managed to maintain some semblance of it’s original premise.

When Hot Daniel was put on a boat after Jiho tossed him out a window, Lookism became too overly focused on side characters who should’ve been spin-offs or something (Jiho, Jake, Johan) and descended into something like a typical, fight manwha revolving around gangs, money, and turf wars with Daniel nowhere to be seen. The quality of the story is still high – but the plot is seemingly very far off from it’s original premise and those who were drawn to Lookism because of it’s focus on lookism would probably lose interest.

Anyway, here’s how I’d fix it.

1.) Remove the long arcs featuring other characters

Jiho, Jake, etc. While these arcs were good, they feel like filler episodes in the overarching plot. The two big questions are why is Daniel waking up with another body, and where did that body come from? And while I’m not fully caught up on the story, having stopped about ep. 340, we seem no closer to resolving these issues than when the story first began.

These side characters should’ve been side stories or spin-offs, not part of the main storyline.

2. Have tighter POVs

The story began pretty tightly from Daniel’s point-of-view and mostly stayed that way save for occasionally focusing on Daniel’s friends (like the cult arc, Zoe’s balloons, or Jay and his pups) to focusing on tons of side characters, usually for very lengthy periods of time.

Limiting the POVs in the story to a handful of characters would help the plot seem less messy. Again, it’s not that these characters aren’t interesting, it’s just that Jane Kim isn’t the reason I began reading Lookism.

While overall I’ve enjoy Lookism for what it is (an interesting critique of various facets of Korean society + I honestly like seeing people beat each other up), it’s beginning to read like a fanfiction of itself and I often find myself waiting for the story to progress a bit before picking it up again. Ultimately, it was the original, simpler premise that drew me to the tale of Daniel Park. In the absence of that, it’s become a much more generic story about gangs fighting one another over money, rather than a poignant commentary on lookism.

Lookism Rating: 8.5/10