|Title in Chinese||小蘑菇|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Shounen Ai|
The story follows An Zhe, a sentient mushroom, after he takes over the dead body of the human An Ze. Assuming An Ze’s identity, he enters the northern human base. Now all people entering the base first have to undergo a screening that determines whether or not they have been infected by the mutated creatures outside. If found to be infected, the person will be eliminated on the spot.
An Zhe isn’t human, but he isn’t infected by a creature either. The judge Lu Feng can’t determine his case, but he highly doubts that the man is human. Hence, even after An Zhe is granted entry, he still keeps a close eye on him.
I’ve read a lot of apocalypse danmei novels before, but I’ve never taken the “apocalypse” in these stories seriously unlike how I did with Little Mushroom. In Little Mushroom, everything is so bleak. It has an aura that seems to weigh down on you, cornering you into a small space where all is dark and quiet, and the only thing you can hear is your heartbeat hammering wildly in your chest. It’s that suffocating.
It’s unlike those zombie stories where the apocalypse seems like it’s all fun and games. There is no group of friends forming teams and going on missions. No treasure hunting, no power-ups, and no strengthening of the fort. In this novel, the “enemy” is not just another adventure; the enemy is a powerful and overwhelming force that can swallow one unawares, and no one can run away from it.
The story introduces many interesting side characters, and every time I thought that they were going to accompany the main character throughout the story—whether as the sidekick, good friend, or mentor, like in a typical fantasy setting—I end up disappointed. So many of them die, and most of the time, their deaths are not even meaningful. The author kills them off like they’re swatting away flies, and you can’t complain that it’s bad writing either because it’s a f**king apocalypse. People are supposed to die.
But either way, the sudden meaningless deaths still wouldn’t be bad writing. The deaths significantly contribute to the tense atmosphere of the whole story. It makes you jittery and ill at ease. Everything is falling apart in the story, and you can feel it. You can feel it in the despair of the remaining characters, in their struggle against a force far greater than themselves. You can feel it in them losing hope, submitting to sorrow and to madness.
The author setting up the great inevitability of death paints a vivid picture of what the characters are going against, which is important because the Boss enemy has no physical form. The characters can’t fight it head-on like with a zombie.
And amidst all this hopelessness, our main character An Zhe shines like sunshine in the rain. He is the one thing that saves this story from further sinking into the abyss. His character is not exactly sunny and all-smiles, but he has a certain charm that comforts the people around him, and the readers as well. He is the embodiment of hope in this novel, and I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting main character. The title, Little Mushroom, is also very appropriate. It’s our little mushroom that holds everything together, and without him, things would have only continued going downhill.
Overall, Little Mushroom highlights the beauty of hope and human will—how humans, in the face of calamity, will struggle and resist. Some may give in, but there will always be those who will continue to fight. This is an apocalypse story that one shouldn’t miss, and I absolutely recommend it to everyone.