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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mail. Volume 2. Houdui Yamazaki. Dark Horse Manga (2006)

A second volume of contemporary ghost stories that are as vivid and compelling as the stories in the first volume. The creator Housui Yamazaki has taken on a very difficult task, he has to create a story featuring a ghost posing a substantial threat to someone and have that threat resolved by the detective Reiji Akiba using his spirit gun both with a limited number of pages, he also has to have enough variety to prevent the formula becoming stale or repetitive. The stories in this volume show that he is easily up to the challenge, there is a nice variety of circumstance and resolution to ensure that the reader will not guess the possibilities too easily. The ghosts are more menacing this time round, their appearances are more violent and their appearances are more gruesome. This is still not a splatter book, it is just that some of the art is nicely explicit. The emphasis remains in all the stories on the living and how or why they have become entangled with the ghosts. Sometimes they have had a direct involvement with the ghosts and there is unfinished business that is keeping the ghost involved in their lives other times it is just bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The art is great, it is nicely understated except when the ghosts appear, the context is normal and unremarkable, homes, cars and very strikingly in a lift. The ghosts themselves are needy, existing in a everlasting now unable to change their circumstances without the assistance of the living. None of the stories are very chilling or frightening, they are carefully wrought to be nicely suspenseful and have satisfying resolutions that do not betray the set up. Their quality makes them a pleasure to reread.

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