If you’re familiar with mangaka Hitoshi Iwaaki’s great, overlooked series “Parasyte,” then the premise behind this series may ring a few bells. Hikaru is a highschool girl who broadcasts her social aloofness to the world by wearing headphones everywhere she goes. She’d be perfectly happy without getting to know the rest of her classmates until she winds up having her body infiltrated by an alien entity. This entity is fairly benign, and quite polite (he rebuilt her body after his entry into Earth vaporized it), but he has come here on a mission. Another entity known only as “Maelstrom” has also arrived on Earth and it has the potential to wipe out all life on the planet, one person at a time (so far...). Now in order to catch an intergalactic serial killer Hikaru has to face the one thing more frightening than that: interacting with the people in the world around her.
This first volume of “7 Billion Needles” doesn’t have the intelligence of “Parasyte,” and it also has a few silly plot elements and inconsistencies. For instance, the entity in Hikaru attributes the extinction of dinosaurs to Maelstrom. That’s just ridiculous! World-ending stakes like this feel out of place in a series with an intentionally small scope as this. I can understand the need to establish Maelstrom as a threat, but this goes way over the mark. However, mangaka Nobuaki Tadano’s art is much more appealing than Iwaaki’s, and I like that the biggest obstacle that Hikaru and the entity face in their quest to stop Maelstrom is her shy and inward nature. It might be a mechanical setup to have the plot force her to grow as a character like this, but Tadano makes it work by taking it slow and having her interactions with people feel believable. It’s character-driven sci-fi on a small scale, but if you like the sound of that then check this series out.