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Monday, August 10, 2009

Mail. Volume 3. Housui Yamazaki (Writer & Artist). Dark Horse Magna. (2007)

The third volume of contemporary ghost stories maintains the very high standard of the previous volumes. There is no overarching continuity between the volumes so that they can be read independently without any loss. The opening story does strike a very different note, it opens with the series narrator, the ghost detective, Akiba, recounting an episode from his childhood when he was blind. The artwork for this episode is very nicely done and distinctively different to the art anywhere else in the series. The resolution to the story is equally very different. Housui Yamazaki does not do a great deal more with the set up created in the first story, it is followed up in the second story and then it fades away as a dramatic issue.
The remaining stories are concerned with how people come into contact with ghosts and how Akiba resolves the situation. As ever the set ups are cleverly done, anchored in contemporary life, one haunting is done via a mobile phone. The stories are all short, they all are very carefully paced so that that the person who is involved in the haunting is introduced and the haunting is given room to develop. This draws the reader into the story in a nice way and adds weight to the single page and double page spreads where the ghost reveals themselves. Keeping Akiba to the minimum means that he is not used up, his interventions remain effective.
For me the stand out story in this volume is one about a failed suicide/murder and the sad and finally menacing repercussions. These are too low key to be horror stories, they very effective examples of cunningly compressed storytelling, they bear re-reading as they are not dependant on a surprise to drawn in the reader. Excellent stories, a pleasure.

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