First you take a world-shaking event, add some superpowers, and you have, well, the basis for most of your generic superhero stories out there. Now add messed up character relations involving romance and murder, and welcome to Big Order.
Big Order is a manga that my fellow Kotaku writer, Richard, previously spoke very highly of to me. It's written by Sakae Esuno, the creator of Future Diary -- the anime adaptation of which was one of Richard's favs -- so I could already see where some of the appeal came from.
What It's About
10 years ago, the world was nearly destroyed by one boy's wish. After the cataclysm, people with strange powers began popping up all over the world. These people, called "Orders," have been granted fantastic abilities based upon their wishes.
Eiji Hoshimiya wanted to be a hero when he made the wish that brought the world to the brink of destruction. 10 years later, he lives a mundane life, never using his powers for fear of the damage they might again cause, until a female assassin sent by a secret society of Orders forces his hand in order to save his sister.
Embroiled in a much larger plot on a global scale, he must now use his dominating power to face his destiny and fulfil the wish he made 10 years ago.
If there's one thing author Sakae Esuno does well in his manga, it's his use of Yandere. Without going too deep into spoilers, the primary heroine of the story, Rin Kurenai, harbors a vendetta against Eiji because his power killed her family.
However, due to an accident, she is also his girlfriend, making her obsessed with wanting to kill him but physically unable to (All right, technically this isn't exactly a Yandere relationship, but it's messed up enough to be equally entertaining). This offers a very unorthodox and interesting character dynamic that provides a good deal of entertainment early throughout the manga.
Yandere character dynamic aside, Big Order is very much your standard superpower adventure manga. You have different superpowered characters clashing, with the outcomes generally determined by which character uses their power in a more creative way to break the established rules, but without actually breaking them.
The individual powers of the varying Orders that appear throughout the story are interesting, and it's always fun to see high-tension battles between superpowered beings. However, while the superpowers are the crux of the entire story, one of the shortfalls of Big Order is in the vagueness of their boundaries.
The intricate details of many of the Orders' powers are not specifically defined. This means that while you have a general idea of what each Order can do, it's hard to tell specifically how their abilities work and exactly what their limitations are, leaving a general air of uncertainty around much of the battles. More than once I found myself asking "if this is this character's power, why don't they just do this?" The fact that most battles tend to be resolved by another character stepping into the fray also does not help.
Much like Future Diary, a lot of the settings in Big Order are provided with a sort of "this is how things are, just go with it" atmosphere which may be a deciding factor for a lot of people as to whether they like it or not. If you find yourself fixating on unexplained details, this may not be the manga for you. But, if you can let go and tag along for the ride, it can be a lot of fun.
Interestingly enough, while Big Order is more plot driven than it is character driven, the character dynamics tend to be the more entertaining bits of the story. Characters with abnormal fixative obsessions are definitely the author's forte, and they are played to the hilt.
It's far from a perfect series, but if you liked Future Diary and/or Yandere characters or messed up character relations like Richard does, (Richard, we need to talk -- I'm concerned about what you seem to be looking for in women) then it's a fairly safe bet you'll enjoy Big Order.
As of this article, the story is still ongoing.
Manga Title: Big Order Author: Sakae Esuno Publisher: Kadokawa Ongoing: Yes Volumes: 5