Have you ever felt something really click in your mind? After a certain experience or encounter, there is a slight shift in your mind that results in a monumental change in your thinking. Have you ever felt that before? Thoughts like, “This is what I need to do” or “This is where I must be” start to pop up in your mind, and you create a sort of steely resolve that allows you to ignore everyone and everything around you. You become a presence anew.
This is one of the core ideas of Holyland, one of my favorite manga ever, and it is a powerful image indeed. The story of Holyland follows a teenager named “Yuu fd” who lives his life in a constant state of depression. Bullied day in and day out at school, he then returns home to parents who think very little about him. He has no friends and no hobbies to escape to. And so eventually, in an act of desperation, he attempts suicide, but he is unable to go through with it. This makes him sink even further into depression.
Then, one day, his eye randomly falls upon a book about boxing. He is intrigued. Maybe by learning how to punch, he will be able to defend himself from his bullies. He learns how to throw a proper punch and soon realizes that he is a natural. With nothing else to do, he throws 100’s, 1000’s of punches, late into the night. The next time he is faced by his bullies, he throws the punch desperately. The guy is knocked out cold. Terrified, Yuu runs out of there before something else happens.
Yuu, not sure of what to do, finds himself wandering the streets at night. Arcades, clubs, alleys, bars and streets, he finds, are crowded, with people who don’t care about him any more than they care about each other. They all roam around, caring only about themselves. Soon, he becomes comfortable in just wandering these dark streets of the night, surrounded by bright lights and unfamiliar faces. He has no particular business or agenda. However, unlike everywhere else in his life, this place feels comfortable to him. He finally feels at home.
However, by virtue of the nature of these streets, he finds himself face to face with those who won’t leave him be without a smacking. However, unbeknownst to both them (and to some degree Yuu himself), Yuu possesses a dangerous fist which he unleashes in times of dire need. Yuu, finally finding a place where he belongs, comes to grips with his abilities and finally has a reason to harness them. He wants to protect the only place he feels he belongs. His Holyland.
Combining elements of drama, romance, emotional trauma and very interesting discussions on martial arts, Holyland creates a uniquely strong tale of a boy who discovers his own way to become a man. Yuu, with friends and enemies he picks up along the way, fights through everything to reinvent himself completely from the ground up. Beginning in a place where he can’t even come up with a reason to exist, he ends with not only a reason, but a will to survive and endure. It is heart-warming, gut-wrenching, bloody and beautiful all wrapped together.
And that’ll be it for me folks. Thanks for reading and have a great day!