NG Life, Volume 1
written by Mizuho Kusanagi
Pompeii used to be such a lovely city until it all went kablooie way back when. Back in the day, Sirix was an up and coming champion in the gladiator arena. He had everything: a soaring reputation, his best friend, Loleus, at his side, and the beautiful Serena for his lover. But 1,900 years ago, it all came to an abrupt end when Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the city. Sirix and Serena parted ways, promising to return to each other, but neither one survived the destruction.
Sirix has since been reborn in modern-day Japan as Keidai Saeki. As fate would have it, the souls of his loved ones have returned in his current life as well. Loleus was reborn as his best friend, a girl named Mii Serizawa. His sister was reborn as his mother, and his archrival was reborn as his father. The only problem is he seems to be the only person who remembers his life in Pompeii! Saeki grew up knowing that his soul mate, Serena, was out there somewhere. At long last, Serena appears as his new neighbor. She too been reincarnated…as a boy named Yuma.
Crushed by this turn of events, Saeki is torn on what to do. He knows his soul belongs with Yuma’s, but unfortunately for him, neither one is gay. Should he change himself to fulfill his wishes? Should he tell Yuma everything about their past lives together? And if he does, will Yuma even believe him?
The mismatched souls lead to an awkward love triangle between Saeki, Yuma, and Serizawa. Saeki wants to love Yuma. Yuma finds Serizawa attractive, and Serizawa has secretly been in love with Saeki for a long time. Yuma wants to bulk up and look manly for Serizawa, which only drives Saeki all the more insane.
The first volume climaxes when Serizawa puts on a play about Saeki’s memories of Pompeii (insert Hamlet joke here). Saeki gets suckered into playing Sirix, while Yuma takes on the part of Serena. At the last minute, Yuma pretends to get sick so Serizawa has to play Serena instead. In the play’s finale scene, Saeki finds it difficult to relive his final moments with Serena. Serizawa picks up his slack and starts to improvise, speaking the words she believed Serena would have spoken to Sirix. This turning point leads to the significance of what the story attempts to question: Is fate really playing a cruel joke, or did it get their souls in the right bodies this time around?
That scene is greatly needed because the rest of NG Life is rather kooky and a bit over the top with Saeki’s overreactions to practically everything that happens on every page. This romantic comedy might even work better in anime form if it had a good voice cast. The art is adequate, but nothing particularly good or bad. The only noticeable problem with the manga’s format is that it becomes very difficult to tell when scenes begin or end.
If you’re wondering what the NG in NG Life stands for, you’re not going to find out by just reading the manga. For now, let’s just assume it stands for “Neapolitan Gelato” and leave it at that.