by Yoshiki Tonogai
published by Yen Press; $18.99 US
Since I’ve been reading one “kill them off one by one” video-game-in-real-world title, I figured I’d try another. Doubt has the appeal of depending more on suspense, less on gory decadence.
I’ve actually played a card game similar to the premise here, although in the manga, it’s done with cell phones for that modern touch. It’s called “Rabbit Doubt”. The setup is that there’s a group of “rabbits”, only one of them is secretly a wolf. The wolf kills the rabbits, one by one. The game is to figure out who the wolf is before all the rabbits are picked off. The rather disturbing twist here is that the rabbits might kill an innocent if they wrongly think he’s the wolf.
A group of players decide to meet up in person, recognizing each other by their cell phone rabbit charms. There’s Yuu, the normal guy; Mitsuki, his schoolgirl friend (who hasn’t played the game before); Eiji, the older tough guy; Haruka, the outgoing flirt; the absent Hajime; and Rei, who’s in a wheelchair and used to be TV’s Hypno-Girl. After a night of karoke, the group wakes up to find that they’re trapped in a warehouse and each has been barcode-tattooed.
The double-sized format is a great idea, since the story is a real page-turner. It’s full of twists and revelations, and I sped through it, wanting to find out what happened next. The art and storytelling is clear and easy to move through, although you might want to linger over some of the creepier images, including a scarred rabbit head that appears on some characters.
The next volume, recently released, is the final one, so there’s not much commitment to finding out what’s really going on. If you’d like to explore a chilling story of paranoia, try Doubt. (The publisher provided a review copy.)