This week we have a fairly recent horror manga brought to the US by Tokyopop.
Title: Hanako and the Terror of Allegory Volume 1
Story and Art by Sakae Esuno
Translated by Satsuki Yamashita
Adapted by Bryce P. Coleman
Retouch and Lettering by Star Print Brokers
Originally serialized by Kadokawa Shoten’s Shonen Ace Magazine
Asao Daisuke is a detective who specializes in cases of people possessed by allegories – urban legends like the slit-mouthed woman and the man under the bed. Togeather with Hanako, an allegory who can travel place to place through restrooms, and Kanae Hiranuma, one of his first clients, they help people with the supernatural forces that plague their clients.
The second and third stories of the volume (The Slit-Mouthed Woman and the Human-Faced Fish, respectively) are incredibly creepy, in terms of subject matter and in terms of visuals.
The first story is basically your standard “There Was A Hook On The Handle” style scary story that works well around a campfire when you’re 10, but much older then that and it starts losing its effect.
No profanity or gore here, but there is some bloody violence and nudity, as well as disturbing imagery.
Originality: While I’d read some supernatural horror manga before, I hadn’t particularly seen any supernatural detective stories like this one. 5 out of 6.
Artwork: The artwork is very well done, particularly for some of the more disturbing Allegories. 5 out of 6.
Story: The stories for chapter 2 and 3 are very well written, provoking a definite sense of horror. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: All of the characters, including the clients, are extremely well written. 5 out of 6.
Emotional Response: While I didn’t consider the recurring characters to be in any danger, Esuna does a very good job about building tension over the fates of the clients. 4 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: This is one of the best new manga of last year, and definitely worthy of your consideration. 5 out of 6.
In Total, Hanako and the Terror of Allegory Vol. 1 gets 34 out of 42.