Manga-ka: Shin Mashiba
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: February 2009
Synopsis: “Dreams on the menu in this volume: a woman tied to a burden she can’t escape and another being watched from afar, a fantastic ordeal for Hiruko’s briefcase, a girl who no longer feels like herself, a rival Baku who makes nightmares worse, the truth of Hiruko’s past, Mizuki’s childhood memories, and Hifumi’s terrible blunder.”
From laugh out loud moments that’ll leave you shaking your head in disbelief, to dramatic pivots to plots much more sinister, this sixth volume of Nightmare Inspector manages to pack a lot into its pages and will undoubtedly have something to offer all its readers with more short stories, surprise visits and a lot of chilling exposition.
Continuing on its tradition of creepy episodic tales of patrons wishing to have their nightmares explained and expunged, there were a few weird tales here to satisfy fans. One starred a young woman seeking to find escape from a rope that binds her to her ill younger brother, while another is of a girl whose scar on her face leaves her so distressed about her appearance that she begins losing her body’s mobility. Of these two, I enjoyed the first for its ominous ending though my favourite of these unrelated stories was that of a young girl trying to discover the true identity of a stalker whose eyes she sees through in a dream.
Taking up the bulk of the book are stories following the cast of continuing characters. Providing a roller coaster ride of revelation, this sixth volume of Nightmare Inspector dives readers into the past of Hiruko before he became a Dream Eater. The flashbacks are triggered by the appearance of another Dream Eater, one with past connections to Hiruko. The scenes of Hiruko’s youth are both disturbing and brutal, easily the worst of the series to date, and they set a sombre mood for that portion of the book.
Following it the story jumps to Chitose, the brother of the teashop’s owner and the Dream Eater before Hiruko. This part of the book proved a little confusing to me as it tosses names, events, times and magic around like proverbial leaves in the wind. Still, it proved an interesting story once you gather it all and it’s one that’s been a long time coming.
Other parts of the book include some stories that drastically shift their tone, showcasing the characters in hijinks that lead them on some bizarre and entertaining adventures including return visits to the Delirium, a shop that allows its patrons to live in their fantasies. While I enjoyed this chapters because they were so ridiculous that they easily pulled off their comedic intent, they still seemed a little too sharp in contrast to the other much darker stories contained in this volume.
Shin Mashiba’s artwork remains one of the series’ strongest attributes with its sharp, gothic style though does still suffer from some distractively similar character designs. Continued kudos goes to Viz for a continuingly fantastic release job including the attractive cover designs and complimenting interior work on each and every page.
With lots to sink your eyes into, this volume of Nightmare Inspector packs a lot of punches despite its uneven tone, and still leaves me eagerly awaiting the next volume for more of the creepy stories and interesting characters that I’ve come to expect.