Artist, illustrator, and game designer Ata presents the story of a college student struggling with epilepsy while trying to live a normal life.
It’s been five years since the first seizure, and life isn’t getting any easier for Isaac. His frazzled, fragile state has him missing school while classmates spread rumors that he’s on drugs. In fact, he is on drugs—pills to battle his epilepsy. Isaac is painfully aware of his illness and its triggers (lack of sleep, intense physical and emotional stress, and even anxiety about epilepsy), but unfortunately, most of the people around him (roommates, teachers, doctors, family) underplay the severity of his condition. Frustrated by the limitations his illness imposes on him, Isaac pushes himself to enjoy something close to a normal life—going to parties and drinking with friends—which eventually leads to a violent seizure that lands him in the hospital. But the injury also earns the attention of friend-of-a-friend Jo, who feels an intense sympathy for Isaac’s plight. But will even Jo’s efforts be enough to help Isaac push through the daily agony of his condition? Ata renders the story in a vibrant manga style, most strikingly depicting Isaac’s seizures as a swarm of floating daggers, each blade bearing a single eye and trailing a long string of beads, the weapons encircling Isaac in hypnotizing patterns before slicing him to shreds. The details of Isaac’s illness feel decidedly lived-in, and Isaac’s exhaustion with the struggle required to live his life is palpably, dramatically realized. But while the specifics of the story are compellingly unique (if occasionally flirting with opacity), the arc feels overly familiar. Nevertheless, the spotlight shone on an underrepresented demographic is commendable.
Big and stylish—of particular interest to those dealing with epilepsy or wanting to know more about the condition.