Not Lives follows young game developer Mikami Shigeru as he is gets dragged into the shady game of NOT ALIVE. He is teamed up with his new avatar, Amamiya Kyouka, together they must fight other players with their avatars to beat NOT ALIVE and exit the game.
During these fights, the player controls the avatar and feels the same pain the avatar does. On top of that, if they are defeated the avatar will be destroyed and the player will become an avatar and must give their copy of NOT ALIVE to another person who will become their player.
In order to clear the game, they must purchase a Last Battle Licence and, as you might have guessed, win one last battle. Thing is, NOT ALIVE doesn’t say how much this will cost. So the pair needs to trust each other and fight to earn enough points to earn their freedom.
Don’t be fooled by the cute art style, this story is pretty dark and it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. While it does have it’s comedic moments, this is certainly not a comedy. There are several other distressing details in Not Lives, so reader discretion is advised.
Mikami is a fun character who gets the most development over the course of the manga. He starts out as a good natured and carefree gamer but through the story, he becomes determined to help Kyouka get out of NOT ALIVE and the two learn from each other.
Amamiya is a textbook example of a Kuudere, seemingly emotionless and distant but she has a soft side for a select group of people. Her motivations are understandable, if not relatable and she does have her cute moments.
What starts off as a simple story of survival quickly snowballs into a twisted tale of loss, family issues and dodgy business practices. Mild spoiler, but later on in the story it is revealed that one of the characters suffered a lot of physical (and hinted sexual) abuse at a young age. It is nowhere near as disturbing as Real Account but certain moments made me feel a bit uncomfortable. So again, reader discretion is advised.
Not Live was not was I expected, but I did enjoy this manga, however, to be completely honest I started to lose interest near the end. It seems like the ending was being drawn out, but to be fair I was reading that part late at night coming down from a mountain dew rush.