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Hikaru’s evolution continues, now as the host to both Horizon and Maelstrom. A new cosmic entity has come to Earth, sensing a disturbance in its evolution. The Moderator sees a macro-evolution for the Earth, but with Horizon and Maelstrom not doing their jobs, it’s up to him to see it through, or else wipe all life from Earth, and let it start over. It’s up to Hikaru, Horizon and Maelstrom to find the solution, and the next step in the Earth’s evolution.

By: Nobuaki Tadano
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Sci-fi
Price: $10.95

Volume 3 starts by showing how much Hikaru has changed from the first 2 volumes. She is no longer a loner, nor does she try to shut out the world. She spends time with her friends Saya and Nao, and acts more like a normal girl. She also starts to notice their classmate Chika, a girl who seems to have the same problem Hikaru had, but reacts in the opposite direction. She doesn’t want to be alone. She is desperate for friends, and to have a place to belong.

That no one really wants to be alone is a theme that runs throughout the series. Hikaru thinks that is what she wants, but first through Horizon, then Saya and Nao, her Aunt Maki, and finally Chika, she realizes it isn’t. She even tells Chika she’s more honest for admitting she didn’t want to be alone. This theme isn’t just limited to Hikaru’s evolution. It also becomes an integral part of evolution of the world.

It’s also turned out that Horizon and Maelstrom are also a part of evolution. They do not represent forces of good and evil as was first insinuated in the first two volumes. They are actually agents of change. They are the sparks that help a world or life to evolve. I really enjoyed Horizon and Maelstrom in these two volumes. Stuck together inside Hikaru, they spent a lot of time bickering, like a couple of siblings. Maelstrom was especially amusing,and he injects a lot of the humor. Even though he co-operates with Horizon and Hikaru, he does so grudgingly, and is constantly arguing and trying to bait Horizon. I liked how when we saw them, they took Hikaru’s form, with Horizon glowing, and Maelstrom with the veins.

Moderator was an interesting character. He is definitely more of a literalist, following the letter of the “law” and seeing evolution only as “survival of the fittest.” He recognizes that change is wanted and needed on Earth, but is a little too set in his ways of realizing it. While his job is to moderate extremes in evolution, he learns from Hikaru that his help is not always needed for things to work out satisfactorily. I loved his travel form of a cat as he followed Hikaru, Horizon and Maelstrom. It was both cute and funny. The scene with him and Maelstrom as the bird was especially amusing.

These two volumes emphasised the sci-fi elements much more than the previous two. With the introduction of the sub-species of Horizon and Maelstrom and The Moderator, the story moves to a more cosmic scale, but keeps itself relatable through Hikaru. These beings of a higher cosmic order keep appearing, yet all Hikaru cares about is protecting those around her. Balance and order are just not as important as friends and family. I also really liked the way evolution was portrayed. It wasn’t shown as good or bad, it just was. It’s a natural process that can work at any scale. From Hikaru becoming more open with her emotions to change on a global scale with the appearance of the sub-species, to its own agents, anything can learn, grow, and evolve. It isn’t something that is predestined or needs to be accepted without question. It can be shaped and adapted to as well as adapting of. That’s a good lesson to learn.

The short story at the end, Hikkikomori Headphone Girl, was very much a precursor story to 7 Billion Needles. It uses the theme of needing others as well, and it much more overt about it. It’s a good short story about helping someone reconnect with people with a touching end. I really enjoyed it as well.

7 Billion Needles is a great sci-fi title that even non sci-fi fans can enjoy. It does what all great sci-fi stories do; it explores the human condition. The challenges and triumphs that Hikaru goes through are very much the same that people go through every day, minus the cosmic entities. It has both a happy and satisfying ending. Tadano has created a world and characters I would love to see again.

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