Annoying dialogue and poor characters are very much an issue in the manga adaptation of Reki Kawahara's The Isolator.
Title: The Isolator: Realization of Absolute Solitude
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publisher: Kadokawa (JP), Yen Press (US)
Story/Artist: Reki Kawahara, Naoki Koshimizu, Shimeji
Serialized in: Dengeki Daioh
Translation: Jenny McKeon
Original Release Date: January 24, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press
When a light novel transitions into manga format, it should do a few things. The first is it should make you think of the original light novel, with the art telling the story. The second is if it’s wordier than it should be, the dialogue needs to be compelling and remotely interesting.
The Isolator is not compelling or remotely interesting.
Based off Reki Kawahara and Shimeji’s The Isolator LN series, the manga by Naoki Koshimizu follows Minoru Utsugi’s life as a high school student desperate to be alone. After an incident took place in his middle school class, he’s been determined to distance himself from people. But three months ago, he was hit by an orb from space, and that has granted him mysterious powers. Now he no longer feels normal, and begins to question his daily life.
While reflecting on his situation, Tonomi Minowa, a former middle school classmate and track athlete attempts to be his friend. This not only puts his desire of solitude in jeopardy, but also makes her track star teammates mad. Just when that seemed to be a big problem for Minoru, an even bigger problem awaits him that not only threatens him and Tonomi, but puts him in the face of other people also hit by this orb, good and bad.
The Isolator lives up to Kawahara’s prior works by introducing a main character that’s unable to connect socially. Unlike Kawahara’s more famous works, Sword Art Online and Accel World, there’s no online game to use as a distraction.
This time the focus is on orbs falling from space. What exactly is the reason for the orbs appearing from the sky? Minoru questions this while fretting about his life on a constant basis.
The plot that takes place in Volume 1 revolves around Minoru trying to figure out where his psyche is. To explain, he didn’t grow up well and the incident in middle school affected him to the point that he wants to be alone forever. Not surprisingly, events involving him change his circumstances — first with the orb which has granted him a weird power, and then with Tonomi who wants to be his friend. Then he meets someone using his orb power for evil, and then the lead female protagonist Yumiko, who immediately threatens Minoru’s grand plan of being in solitude.
The major problem with The Isolator is the dialogue. I immediately felt like I should have just read the LN once I got halfway through chapter 1. What could’ve helped was showing us the situation rather than telling us with words. Instead we get Minoru’s inner monologue, and for the most part, it’s annoyingly cryptic and vague. There’s teasing the important story, and then there’s explaining what’s going on an interesting manner, which this fails to do. This could be super prevalent in the LN, but Koshimizu doesn’t present any of the words in an intriguing manner. Combine that with characters with the typical personalities (the loner protagonist, the strong willed girl, the evil baddie that shows how evil he is, etc) done in mediocre fashion, you have a mediocre first volume.
Probably the only good thing in The Isolator is where it goes from here. They have to explain what’s going on with these powers, what happens with Tonomi, and who else has these powers. Otherwise, mostly everything feels forgettable and too wordy. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody is super wordy, but far more tolerable with its dialogue. That might be because it’s intentions are mostly clear; The Isolator’s is super vague, and that is hurting its readability.