From Virtual Japan
Believers is a Japanese comic, or manga, that was created by Naoki Yamamoto. It ran between May and November of 1999 in Weekly Big Comic Spirits. It has become a controversial manga, due to pornographic scenes and repeated nudity. Proponents of the series say, though, that the manga is not pornographic. They say that the nudity and the sexual scenes are meant to further the story along, and are not just there in order to make the fans happy.
Believers focuses on three members of the Smiley Face Center. This center is a cult that is bent on having all of its members reach a pure state, where they are no longer affected by lust or by having to have possessions. Three of the believers are brought to a deserted island that is off the coast of Japan. They are meant to be there in order to purify themselves so that they can reach the “land of comfort”. However, each of these believers comes from a difficult past, and they are not able to forget that past very easily. After a time, each of them starts to wonder what is right, and what is reality.
- The Chairman – The Chairman is the most important person on the island, and he believes that. He tried to be a novelist, but was unable to make it. He actually blames society for this. He dreams, at night, every night, a specific dream, but whenever he wakes up, he forgets his dream. He truly thinks that if he were able to remember his dream in the morning, he could turn it into a best-selling novel and become rich and famous. He actually thanks the fact that he’s not able to remember his dream, though, as it allows him to join The Smiley Face Center and learn about the evils of having possessions. He ends up getting food poisoning and becoming delusional, and his sanity is questioned.
- [[The Vice Chairman}} – The Vice Chairman is the only woman that is on the island. The Vice Chairman used to be married to an extremely abusive husband. He believed that she committed adultery due to the fact that she was talking to a man known as “3rd Division Chief”. After he discovers the conversation, he hits her. 3rd Division Chief helps her to leave her husband and to join the Smiley Face Center. She feels strongly for him, and wants to be with him. She has a difficult time believing in the teachings of the Smiley Face Center, though, and often finds herself going against the things that they teach, however unintentionally.
- The Operator – The Operator became a part of the Smiley Face Center when his mother joined. Through her, he found that he should drive lustful thoughts away and should give up his worldly possessions. Later, his mother’s brainwashing ended up being switched and she reverted back to her normal self. It is then that she begs her son to leave the Smiley Face Center and to return home with her. He declines. He fully believes what the Smiley Face Center teaches, and finds himself in a difficult situation when he starts to have sexual thoughts and feelings about The Vice Chairman.