Katsuhiro Otomo
Paranormal drama

Anyone familiar with the anime and manga genres knows the name Akira, which is considering one of the preeminent pieces of both genres. Little known to most familiar with the genres is that Otomo had another piece that came before his work with Akira.

Domu is not unlike Akira in basis, where the heart of the conflict lies in humanity's psychic ability, even thought it tends to be on a smaller scale. The story is about an housing complex that has been victim to a series of mysterious murders, suicides and accidents over the length of a few years. At the heart of the murders is a senile old man with immense psychic powers, which he uses to convince others to perform acts upon themselves and others. The police find themselves baffled with the case that seems to have no feasible explanation to it.

Things change when the family of a young girl arrive at Tsutsumi Public Housing Complex. Right away, signs of a conflict between the similarly gifted girl and the old man crop up as she interferes with what seems to be "play" to him. Because of this infringement on his territory, the old man sets things in motion to have the girl killed, but in the process unleashes a fury that nearly destroys himself and the complex.

The characters are well defined and the story is told well. There's a pace to it that lends itself to feeling a lot like a crime and justice television show, much like Law and Order, but with a more paranormal aspect to it. Once again, Otomo gives his characters a fine level of depth, even though I wish that maybe a little more time had been spent giving the police officers more depth of character.

As always, Otomo's illustrations are wonderfully detailed and evoke a lot of personality from the characters. Unlike most in the genre, Otomo's locations and characters are not overtly manga in style. There seems to be a great effort to make them look more realistic in presentation without losing the manga feel. Locations feel like they're pulled from real life and there's a certain intaglio aspect to the detail of shadows in just about every page. On top of that, each character manages to look different, so you aren't flipping through pages wondering what's happening because too many people look too similar.

Domu has the same kind of addictive "can't put it down" quality to it as Akira did, but since this title runs at about 300 pages, you'll find the story over way too soon. While the pacing is really well done, I almost wish that Otomo had just included more story so that I could delve deeper into the characters. But, with that said, Domu is still a fine piece of work.

If you enjoyed Akira or manga in general, you owe it to yourself to check this book out. It's one of the better titles available and shows that Akira was not a fluke. Otomo obviously puts every bit of himself into his work.

- - Kinderfeld

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