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
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.