Manic Manga: Litchi Hikari Club

Litchi Hikari Club

Litchi Hikari Club

Title: Litchi Hikari Club
Alternate Titles: ライチ光クラブ, ライチ☆光クラブ, 荔枝☆光俱乐部, Litchi☆Hikari Club, Lychee Hikari Club, Lychee Light Club, Raichi Hikari Club
Author & Artist: Furuya Usamaru
Year: 2006
Genre: Adult, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Mature, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, Sci-fi, Tragedy
Volumes: 01 (Complete)
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Description:
For the sooty industrial town’s lads there’s only one point of light: The Light Club, a secret brotherhood they’ve organized in an abandon factory. They’re on the verge of booting up their crowning achievement, a “thinking machine” fueled by lychee fruits. At the same time, the middle schoolers’ cooties-fearing solidarity is devolving into a downright National Socialist muck of murderous paranoia, perverse aestheticism, and (not always) suppressed homosexuality. All information come from Manga Updates. This blog post will contain spoilers please ready after the cut if you’ve already read the manga. This manga & review should be read by readers who are 18 & older.

To be honest with you guys, I have read this manga a while ago. However, because of the content and how disturbing it is, I had to mull it around the brain for a little bit.

The art is gorgeous and rightfully disturbing especially in certain scenes of the manga. The artist sure knows to add in those extra details when it comes to the human body – especially through the eyes of a young, disturbed, Japanese middle school boy.

From the get-go, you can tell this manga is one of those black comedy types with a lot of gore and B-movie type science. The idea of the club is these boys don’t want to grow up to become “filthy” adults with a goal to create a robot with the ultimate AI technology who runs on lychee fruits. There’s a leader who is worshiped as a God (because of a passing fortune when he was a little younger) nicknamed  Zera.

During the course of the manga, it’s revealed that, originally, the Light Club was formed between three friends but over time, they invited other boys – who never seemed to fit in within their classes – and eventually Zera took over the club and uses the boys as his personal soldiers. And, if any of the boys messes up, they get punished – very violently.

The story itself isn’t very good, once you remove yourself from the gore, disturbing images, and the beautiful bond between Litchi (the robot) and Kanon (a girl they kidnapped and decided to worship as a goddess).

It’s a typical story of a ruler gone mad with paranoia and obsesses over the possibility of a traitor. The whole traitor spiel started because Litchi wasn’t just built to become the ultimate “thinking” robot – they wanted to kidnap girls because they were curious about them and since they had already killed a teacher (in a very brutal way), they wanted to find a girl to worship as their goddess.

The betrayals start when Zera finds one of his black chess pieces broken. They end up killing one of them right off the bat by breaking his spine in half. This was when murmurings of ending Zera’s rampage started to go across. Soon, the kids start dropping one by one. In fact, after Litchi had kidnapped some other girls (due to programming trial & errors), they put them in a cage. One of them releases them and had their sister raped as a result.

There’s even a scene where one of them catches Zera having sex with another boy – but the boy who caught them is in too deep with his loyalty for Zera. Sadly, loyalty means nothing and he is eventually killed off as well.

The only survivor was Kanon because Litchi developed feelings (truly, the ultimate AI) for her and killed itself to protect her, after he killed most of the remaining members.

Now, is it good? A lot of other reviewers would tell you it is because of the art and because of how dark and gruesome it is. This manga is really not shy about showing off genitalia (even though the boys are way underage), human innards, burnt humans, and so much more other disturbing images. They would also tell you that the author took the idea of Nazism and turned into something even more messed up than it already is. Someone might even chime in that the original story came from a play the author has seen in his youth – it’s theatrical!

Okay, but does that mean it has to have a very weak plot? After they captured the ideal girl, Kanon, they kinda threw both Litchi and Kanon aside till the last few chapters and built them up to have this “forbidden” romance. I put those in quotes because, in the end, everything was kind of predictable. You knew that there was going to be a betrayal within the ranks. You knew there was going to be something disturbing happening – especially in the first few chapters with the teacher and the random student.

But because of the singular volume count it has, it’s clearly rushed. However, that’s not really an excuse for a weak plot. This type of story is clearly fit for a way longer volume count than the one it has. There’s hardly an impact to be made here, at least for me.

I’m having a hard time remembering the key points in the actual story – but what I do remember from it is the art and that’s it.

I barely remember the characters’ names and had to re-research who they were and what their actual significance was. And the only reason why I even had to mull it around in my head were the lingering questions: “Do I really want to recommend this to anyone?” “What do I actually like about this?” “What do I actually not like about this?”

And here are my answers:

  • Do I really want to recommend this to anyone? No. I really don’t. This is not something for everyone, as I’m clearly bothered by it. It’s very explicit and it does not hold back on disturbing images. If you’re someone who can digest this better than I can, by all means but don’t read this while you’re around other people who are not to your level of tolerance.
  • What do I actually like about this? Despite my feelings towards it, the art is beautiful and unique. It goes with the theme of the story and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, the characters intrigued me. Perhaps if this went longer than one volume (as in, I get a feel for the characters, the ranks, and how things operated) I would be a lot less critical of the weak plot. I really did like looking at it even if it meant something disturbing on it – because the author intended it to be very disturbing. He got my reaction of being disgusted, disturbed, and other negative feelings. But that’s about it.
  • What do I actually not like about this? Besides the plot issues, I didn’t like how it was disturbing because “Wow! Look how disgusting this is! Look how shocking! Shock! Shock!” After a while, it doesn’t get as shocking as it once was. After a certain point, I felt feeling very “meh” and I just wanted to finish this. Maybe it’s good in that case that this is only one volume because, like I said, I was getting really bored. The shock did wear off for me after a while. The plot is, once again, very predictable and didn’t seem to different when get down to it. The story is very bland. The characters a bland. Again, nothing is memorable.

Overall, this manga is kind of overrated. People seem to praise it for how disturbing it is and how the art is, but take that away – what are you left with?

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One comment

  1. I’m a bit late to comment, but have you read bokura no hikari club by any chance? It’s the prequel. It’s less shock value and more showing how everything led up to the events of lhc. I agree that lhc felt rushed, bokura no hikari helps slow things down

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