by Yoshiki Tonogai
published by Yen Press; $18.99 US
I recommend reading this second and concluding volume to Doubt Book 1 close to finishing the first volume. If you don’t, you might have forgotten who’s who and who’s dead. (A “story so far” or character list page would have helped me a lot in recalling where we left off.) I can’t imagine what it would have been like to read this in monthly serialization.
It doesn’t really matter, though, since there are a number of reversals. This isn’t a mystery you can figure out, since much of what we’ve been told turns out not to be true. It’s a pure thriller, something to get the adrenaline going as nice-guy Yuu tries to escape the warehouse he’s trapped in without being killed. He’s also trying to protect childhood friend Mitsuki, who finally gets some characterization, although you might wonder if any of it makes sense. There’s a distinct fantasy air to the revelations here. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ending requires belief in almost superhuman abilities as well as predictive manipulation of others. It’s unbelievable, even given genre conventions.
The book could have been shorter and achieved the same things, I think, although that would mean fewer creepy pictures of someone about to kill someone else or wondering what was really around the corner or the rabbit heads (as shown on the cover). Yoshiki Tonogai does a great job translating jump fears (as in what’s going to jump out next?) into print images. I believed his characters were scared nearly out of their minds, unable to determine whom to trust, including themselves. It’s a shame that their motivations aren’t treated as consistently as their emotions.
Clearly, the lead has also never read Sherlock Holmes. Remember, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Yet when there are only three people left, and he’s watching one of them, it never occurs to him that the other must be the killer. The ending is rather nihilistic, which perhaps suits today’s younger readers who have been desensitized to this kind of gory “hunt them down” slasher story.
I doubt (ha!) I’ll ever reread this, but it was a fun ride while it lasted. It’s popcorn manga. (The publisher provided a review copy.)