Seemingly a revenge story, Liverleaf manga first delves into some intense topics and demonstrates their extremes in a brutal and gut-wrenching manner. Liverleaf by Rensuke Oshikiri is a gory and graphic exhibition of the effects of bullying and abuse.
An Introduction to Liverleaf Manga
Haruka Nozaki moves to a small town in Tokyo with her family. This town is suffering from severe depopulation. Due to this, the middle school that Nozaki goes to is close to shutting down. This makes Nozaki’s batch the last one to graduate from their school. Her classmates don’t see her as one of them. Hence, they want to keep her out of the graduation album.
The middle schoolers all have some serious issues and have dealt with abuse back home to varying degrees. The story gets darker, creepier, and more gory with every chapter. It’ll also surprise you with the turn of events that take place.
The depiction of the extremes of Bullying and Abuse in the story
The manga depicts the progression of bullying to its extremities.
- The bullying escalates from throwing Haruka’s shoes away to burning her family alive. It’s baffling to see the middle school kids not even flinching before committing murders.
- It’s not just limited to the students; their homeroom teacher is also a victim of bullying. To keep herself safe, the teacher befriends her students. It doesn’t do much as there are multiple instances where the students are seen bullying her.
- Yoshie is a victim of bullying herself. As the bullies’ focus shifts to Haruka, she gets a break. But when Haruka stops coming to school, their attention returns to her. This makes her bully Haruka in extremes, by burning her family alive.
All this bullying pushes the protagonist to seek revenge. She kills off all her bullies in the most gruesome manner possible. ‘Abuse breeds abuse’ is another prominent message that the manga seems to be sending through.
- Taeko, who starts the bullying is the first victim we see. She wants to leave the small town and pursue her dreams of becoming a beautician in Tokyo. You see her getting pushed around by her parents.
- Aiba, who seems like the only sane character shows his psychotic side when Haruka refuses to live with him. He has witnessed domestic violence at home and when he tried to interject, he just got badmouthed in return. This altered his idea of love as his only example were his twisted parents.
- Yoshie is the most twisted one. Her violent ways stem from her life back at home and her experience with bullying and neglect.
The themes and how they make one feel
A traumatic childhood, experience with abuse and neglect leads to extreme violence by middle school kids. What’s more, saddening is the fact that all of this is not limited to fiction. It’s unsettling to see Middle school kids being so brutal. It’s also believable to a degree because they’re not yet able to comprehend the consequences of their actions.
Some scenes feature the teacher getting bullied by the parents of her students for her weird behavior. This speaks a lot about what kind of environment the kids were brought up in. It shows the cycle of abuse and its everlasting effects.
While some things are a bit exaggerated but Liverleaf manga is not that far from reality. The manga has a feeling of doom glossed over everything and the end is no different. And just like every tragedy, it also ends on the note of what could’ve been done differently.