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Not bad..Not too good either
on October 4, 2001
I brought Katushiro Otomo's Domu with great expectations. The only other graphic novel that I had the pleasure of reading was Darkhorse's Batman Vs. Predator. That book exemplified the type of material I love to read; a story about people and situations we would never see in this world, but written with enough skill to make us accept and become interested in them.
Unfortunately, Otomo's debut lacks a certain something. Its not quite the suspensful thriller it promises to be. We have an interesting set-up; an old man who kills off unaware neighbours in his apartment block by controlling their minds and manipulating them into deadly scenarios (eg. ordering them to jump for the top floor, etc.). The body count is rising, none of the murders are solved, the cops are baffled and the residents are scared. A young child posessing the same power as the physchopathic murderer is soon onto his game and challenges him to a telekenetic battle that starts off as a slow, tactical duel but soon erupts into a blazing super-natural struggle with the existance of the apartment block hanging in the balance.
What Katushiro has failed to do is focus carefully on his main characters. They function merely as components of the plot but are difficult to believe as individuals. For example, there is no explanation as to what motivates the old man; he's just some crazy maniac who chuckles evily when he kills off his victims. And what about the girl? Katushiro forces us to accept that she is what she is without providing moments of development or background. She just appears, and before you know it, she's duking it out with the bad guy. I mean, where's the run-up or the build-up to the time she actually realises she must fight him?
Despite the lack of depth within the novel's protagonists, Katushiro redeems himself slightly with his excellent observations of inner city life such as the dull and domestic dialogue between mothers talking while their children play; the cops who gamble and urinate behind bushes and the clever representations of the lives of the apartment block residents, how they run parallel and how they coincide, the depiction of their habits, idiosyncracies and daily routines.
All in all, worth a look. Not thrilling, nor fascinating. But at the very least, interesting and definantly readable.