The Summer Hikaru Died is a psychological horror seinen manga series by Mokumokuren and published in English by Yen Press. Two boys lived in a village: Yoshiki and Hikaru. The two did everything together…until the day Hikaru was encompassed by a mysterious light. That was when everything changed—Hikaru most of all. Yoshiki still wishes from the bottom of his heart to always stay by his side…but is there even a Hikaru left to be with?
It has Hikaru’s face. It has Hikaru’s voice. It even has Hikaru’s memories. But whatever came down from the mountains six months ago isn’t Yoshiki’s best friend. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous. Carrying on at school and hanging out as if nothing has changed―as if Hikaru isn’t gone―would be crazy…but when it looks so very like Hikaru…and acts so very like Hikaru…
- Genre: Horror | Drama | Mystery
- Author: Mokumokuren
- Publisher: Yen Press
- Price: $15.00 USD
- Length: 1 Volume (Ongoing)
The Summer Hikaru Died Volume 1 Manga Review
Yoshiki and Hikaru are besties who do everything together–and when you live in the boonies it’s good to have someone your own age to hang out with. That is until Hikaru makes a fateful trip into the mountains and goes missing for a week. Just when everyone is about to give up hope, Hikaru comes down from the mountain seemingly unscathed. But, it soon becomes apparent that the thing that comes back isn’t the Hikaru Yoshiki once knew. Now, Yoshiki has to come to grips with the fact that something sinister has taken over his friend’s body… and that it has a strong attachment to Yoshiki.
Both terrifying and captivating, The Summer Hikaru Died is a story that immediately pulls you in. From the start there is no ambiguity about Hikaru—he is very much dead—and while the entity inhabiting his body retains the OG Hikaru’s memories and feelings, Yoshiki’s childhood friend is gone and he isn’t coming back. Something that is hard for Yoshiki to accept, because as horrific and otherworldly as the situation is, for all intents and purposes the thing using his body is “Hikaru”.
Hikaru’s passing is something that is both ever present in the narrative and nebulous, for both Yoshiki and the reader, because we don’t actually see it occur in the manga (as of the first volume). We’re told about it in passing by the most dubious source, “Hikaru” or rather the Eldritch abomination inhabiting his body. It’s just a fleeting moment delivered in the same tone as someone remarking on the weather, no fanfare, just a fact. There is no mourning the loss or even time to process the news before “Hikaru” moves on to other things. And that’s what makes The Summer Hikaru Died so intriguing, Hikaru’s death doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Despite the title, this really isn’t his story, it’s Yoshiki’s. We don’t even know who Hikaru really is, because he’s dead before the story even starts. The “Hikaru” we know is an imitation, created by the otherworldly entity that has taken up residence in his body. Everything we know about and feel about Hikaru is through Yoshiki.
We “care,” because Yoshiki does. We “grieve” the loss because of how much Hikaru meant to Yoshiki. The focus of the story is on the emotional and psychological toll this situation has on Yoshiki.
For Yoshiki, it’s not just the lack of closure surrounding the loss of his nearest and dearest friend, but his desperate desire to cling to the hope that even though Hikaru is no longer there, he can keep up pretenses with the fake. As terrifying and inhuman as this “new” Hikaru is (and trust me it is straight up NIGHTMARE FUEL), as long as it’s around Yoshiki doesn’t have to say goodbye to his best friend.
But, that’s not all. While unconfirmed (yet), it is heavily implied that Yoshiki’s feelings for Hikaru may have gone beyond just platonic friendship. There are some definite romantic undertones to Yoshiki’s feelings for his friend, which have not only grown over time, but are seemingly reciprocated by the entity walking around in Hikaru’s meat suit. It’s complicated and a tad uncomfortable, especially with how obsessed “Hikaru” is with Yoshiki. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say there’s just something genuinely sweet about it–despite the obvious horror themes. There’s a scene in particular that would be super sexual if not for the absolute nightmare scenario unfolding before my eyes.
Honestly, I have not been able to stop thinking about The Summer Hikaru Died since I picked it up on release. Body horror meets complicated unrequited love in this truly bizarre story that will keep you hungry for answers with each turn of the page. And while it isn’t as forthcoming with its answers, this is definitely A MUST READ and this is just the first volume!