Manga-ka: Housui Yamazaki
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2006
Synopsis: “Private detective Reiji Akiba has a theory about those weird coincidences we all encounter in life. There are actually encounters with the dead – their way of sending us a message. But you may not want to open such strange mail from beyond – not unless you can see the ghostly attachment, like Akiba can. And not unless you carry a tool that can kill what isn’t alive, like Akiba’s sanctified gun Kagutsuchi… digging a divine grave to lay to rest the evil dead!”
From the artist of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery, comes Mail, a horror manga showcasing several short stories of people’s encounters with the deceased and the mysterious detective, Akiba, who comes to their aid.
The stories here are varied and engaging for their short page spans. Different victims in different scenarios facing ghosts with their own motives keep things interesting and from feeling like too much of the same thing repeating. There isn’t much variety in the way Akiba arrives and dispatches them but it’ll take more than one volume for that to get old. The final story in the book is an especially interesting one for those who’ve enjoyed the stories thus far but not much else can be said about it without ruining the ending.
Occasionally between the stories, Akiba gives a short monologue as introduction to the next story, which comes across as a little cheesy, interrupting the mood created by the suspenseful tales. It’s a small qualm however and in some cases does do a nice job of setting readers up for what’s to come.
The art in Mail is fairly simple and keeps readers attention on the story instead of bogging them down in too many details. That said however, the backgrounds are rich with details and the character designs are distinct. It’s nice seeing an art style that feels really rooted in realism with more rounded features and proportions. What pops out most of all though, in combination with the excellent pacing, is the chills that the sight of ghosts suddenly appearing will send down the spines of readers. The decaying skin of rotten corpses, the unwavering stare of the dead and the look of sheer terror on the faces of their victims earns this series its place in the horror genre.
All attributes combined, Mail, volume one, is an interesting manga that manages to be exciting in all the right places. It will keep readers on the edge of their seats when the stories reach their climax, despite the repetitiveness of the stories, which is enough to recommend this book to fans of horror.