Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Nothing here. However... we did destroy two of the planet's intelligent life forms..."
"Can we rebuild them?"
"I'm afraid not..."
"Then at least recreate their outer appearances as quickly as you can."
"Convincing enough that they don't realise we tampered with them."
"But we only have weapons grade units in stock."
"Wait, no! They'll destroy the entire planet!!"
"That's not our problem! We need to disengage at once!!
Poor old Ichiro. He's 58 going on 78. He looks like an OAP and even his daughter pretends he's her granddad to avoid embarrassment in social situations. Starved of affection and emotionally cut-off from his family, absolutely the last thing he needs is to be told is that he has inoperable stomach cancer which is going to kill him in a matter of weeks.
Which is unfortunate, because after being called in by his doctor that's precisely the news he receives. Unable even to tell his family, mainly because they won't pay attention to him long enough for him to get the words out, choked up as he is, he turns to the family pet, a recently purchased Shiba Inu (almost as cute as these ones on the greetings cards drawn by our Jodie wearing a fez, a crown, a top hat and a feathered cap respectively!) called Hana-Ko for solace and comfort. At least he can rely on his canine chum for some consoling licks and wags of the tail!
During a late-night walk through the park, he and a stranger stop to look at a brilliant bright light in the sky, which promptly turns out to be a crashing spaceship that kills them. Much to his surprise Ichiro wakes up in the park the next morning with precisely zero recollection of the events of the previous night. Very quickly, though, he starts to realise something has changed, and before long begins to understand that he is now, to all intents and purposes, a consciousness in a robotic body. A highly weaponised robotic body that whilst it looks exactly like the 58-year-old geriatric Ichiro is anything but. And, of course, he's no longer dying from cancer.
Unable to turn to his family for support during this rather puzzling yet exhilarating experience he finds himself becoming ever more withdrawn and solitary, taking more late-night walks, as he tries to understand what on earth (ho ho) has happened to him. Which is how he happens to be just in the right place at the right time to save a homeless man from being beaten to death by a gang of teenage kids. It seems as though he might now be able to be the sort of man he always wanted to be. He needs answers, though, clearly. So what of the other person who was in the park that night? Ichiro begins to wonder if they too have been changed in the same way?
Intriguing and hilarious opener from the creator of GANTZ (of which there is a great little in-joke towards the end of this volume, as we finally see what happened to the other person in the park that night). So far so good, this novel twist on the classic bodysnatching theme has the potential to be a great story, much like the sadly out of print 7 BILLION NEEDLES. And, as with GANTZ, there's a lot of ridiculous humour to off-set the hard sci-fi element.
I love the main protagonist Ichiro, he's such a downtrodden fellow you can't help but take to him instantly, and I'm looking forward to seeing what crazy situations I'm certain the creator, Hiroya Oku, is going to put him through, and precisely how his family reacts to their new dad, though I'm quite sure he's going to keep them in the dark about his robotic makeover. I'm certain we haven't seen the last of those aliens, either. I wonder precisely why they were in such a rush to depart the scene so quickly...?