Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory Volume 1

By Sakae Esuno. Released in Japan as "Hanako to Guuwa no Tera" by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Tokyopop.

It's rare that I buy a manga based on title alone. Horror manga, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service aside, is not generally my thing. And I didn't really get into Future Diary, which was the series the author wrote after this one had finished. However, sometimes you have to go with your gut, and that's quite a title, so I picked it up.

It's pretty decent. The artist knows how to make his horror look horrific, and the pacing is excellent. There's a nice balance between cute innocent victims, poorly communicating boyfriends, and complete jerkass monsters. I especially like the idea of each chapter dealing with a different classic Japanese urban folklore legend, and was familar with the slit-mouthed woman from Urusei Yatsura gags. And Toilet Hanako appears throughout, of course.

If there's a drawback it's in the three leads, who I found rather colorless. Every series like this usually begins with a few one-shots where the hero's past is merely hinted at, followed by an extended arc where all his dark secrets are revealed. And no doubt we'll get that here. But he, and Kanae, the heroine, just seem a bit plain. And I must admit, after watching Haunted Junction, I prefer my Toilet Hanakos to be busty and not loli.

In the end, this is perfectly serviceable. I didn't find anything I really disliked while I was reading it. But if another volume never came out, I don't think I'd even notice. It lacks the addictive quality you get in the best mangas, the sort of thing that has you checking Amazon to find when the next volume is scheduled to be released. I suppose Future Diary sold well enough that Tokyopop wanted to get other titles by the author. However, in this end this is merely good.

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