|Manga-ka: Shin Mishiba
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “The Darkness: Dreams on the menu in this volume: a woman struggling with her appearance and another trapped in darkness, a man with a sinister childhood secret, a cocoon that is more than mere silk, a delusional dream with no happy ending, a man unable to let go of past regrets, and a child’s imagination that is not as innocent as it seems. Hiruko will rid you of your darkest visions… for a price.”
This fifth volume of Nightmare Inspector offered up some of the eeriest stories in the series’ run thus far. While I’ve found previous ‘episodes’ to be a little creepy, or offer up some entertaining surprises, a couple stories in this book had me enjoyably unnerved.
The book opens up with a strong start as a young woman enters Hiruko’s tea shop with help dealing with her strange nightmare. Overweight, she envies the affection her love holds for another, skinnier girl and finds herself unable to reach him through a narrow corridor that seperates them. This tale earned major kudos from me for its ability to shock me with an unexpected ending that was brillantly foreshadowed but cleverly withheld until the final few pages.
The following stories, six in total in this book, may not have possessed as much kick as the first’s ending, but they none-the-less proved to the kinds of short stories that follow you after you finish. Much of the book deals with death and the ramifications of people dealing with it and coming about acceptance, ranging from a girl’s legs protruding from a carp-decoration or a woman struggling for help before she suffocates in a cocoon of thread woven from her own mouth.
Taking a break from the darker tone of the story is a chapter about the enthusiastic researcher, Hifumi. Driven by his love for Hiruko’s housekeeper-of-sorts, Mizuki, he finds himself whisked away to the Delirium, lost in his fantasies. However his overzealous nature leads him to make a careless decision and Hiruko is summoned to the strange shop to bring him back to his senses. It’s nice having a chapter solely dedicated to the continuing cast of the series and I appreciated the momentary change of tone before the book finishes with another morbid tale or two.
Art-wise, the sharp style may still possess some of the repeditive design flaws I faulted it for in previous reviews, but I can’t deny its rich enviroments and sharp lines work well with the material. Viz’s treatment of the series remains on par with their usual level of quality and I especially love their attractive design work on the cover, complete with complimenting use of black and silver.
Easily one of the more impressive volumes of the series to-date, volume five of Nightmare Inspector makes me happy I stuck with it after initially doubting earlier books. I can safely say I look forward to the next volume and hope it maintains the lasting punch this one delivered.