I’m going to be on a panel at Mid-American Con II (aka WorldCON) called “Anime Stories to Watch in the Dark,” and my fellow panelist recommended Manhole by Tsutsui Tetsuya. I read it here at Mangasaurus. It’s complete at 29 chapters/632 pages. I feel like if you’re a fan of Psycho Pass and/or Zankyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance (which I definitely am), you might enjoy this horror manga.
I was pretty worried about reading this manga given how spooky the covers are. I’ve watched a lot of American (and Asian and other foreign) horror movies, so milage may vary, but I actually was never COMPLETELY freaked out by this manga. (Maybe reading, as opposed to watching?) But, for whatever reason this reminded me more of a police procedural than a strictly horror manga. Definitely, it was atmospheric and some of the subject matter was disturbing (as were some visuals), but it ended a lot more like, let’s say Psycho Pass than Zankyou no Terror.
The story follows two low-on-the-totem-pole, but-secretly-brillant detectives. In this way, it really reminded me, pleasantly, of Shibazaki Kenjirō, the brilliant, if underrated police detective in Zankyou no Terror. If that’s not a reference that makes sense to you, think vaguely scruffy, a bit caustic guy who starts to grow on you after several pages/episodes. He’s the kind of main character where you think, “Damn it, couldn’t he have been hotter?” But, then later you like him, anyway, like that kind of crush you might get on a REALLY SMART older college professor.
Like in Psycho Pass, our brilliant lead detective is paired up with a sassy, balls of steel young female detective, who at first you think “Is this woman really up for the job,” but later you’re like, “DANG, girl!”
So the dynamic between our two heroes is familiar, if one I like quite a bit.
Here they are, and what most of the art style is like:
The story starts when a naked guy (YEP! We see all the parts) comes crawling up out of a sewer in a busy shopping district somewhere in Toyko (or other largish Japanese city, frankly, I wasn’t entirely paying attention to that detail, and it doesn’t much matter to the plot.) He’s shambling like a zombie and, just before puking over some hapless college dude bro, calls for his mommy.
It’s pretty spooky and it’s up to our detectives to figure out what’s going on.
A huge part of the fun of Manhole is figuring out whodunit, so I’m not going to spoil that part for you. I will say that one of the things I liked about Manhole is that the villian’s motivation made SENSE. It was creepy in a Psycho Pass-esque “the world will be better” sort of way, and that lent a lot of interest to the story for me. Because it’s only three volumes, it’s not SUPER deep, but for an hour or two read, it was satisfying. There are some creepy, haunting endings, but unlike an American horror story the ending is actually somewhat uplifting, with no loose ends.
Which I liked, but which strict horror fan might not, as much.
So, yeah, I enjoyed this one. Check it out if it seems like your cup of tea.