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Friday, January 21, 2011

Domu. A Child's Dream. Katsuhiro Otomo. Dana Lewis, Tornen Smith (Translators). Dark Horse Comics (1996)

Highly entertaining and enjoyable story about a hidden battle taking place in a high rise housing estate in Tokyo. At the Tsutsumi Housing Complex there is an abnormally high number of deaths, suicides and accidental deaths, the pattern is puzzling and concerning the police. A family with a young girl move into the complex, the girl has well developed psychic powers and she quickly encounters the savagely malicious Mr Uchida, an elderly man who is behind the mysterious deaths. In parallel to the police investigation, the girl and the old man engage in an escalating battle for control over the estate. The story escalates in a superbly controlled fashion, the forces unleashed are captured with wonderful care, the quiet climax packs a mighty and very satisfying punch.
At the heart of this story is the Tsutsumi Housing Complex and the people who live there. Katsuhiro Otomo takes the time to make the context for the story be as solid and complete as possible, the way the action cuts across the lives of the residents gains weight and power from the way they have been given chance to establish themselves. The same is true for the police investigation, the team doing the investigation are varied and thoughtful.
Mr Uchida, is a brilliant creation, spiteful and greedy, he relishes his power over the inhabitants of the housing estate while being effectively invisible to most of them. His gleeful enjoyment of his actions and control is captured and makes his memorable. Etsuko, his opponent is very determined with a solid sense of what is right and wrong as well as being a entirely credible small girl.
The art is a joy, it is detailed and captures the small scenes as well as the huge explosions that wrack the complex. The cast are all clearly individual, their body language as well as their expressions are are clear. One of the multiple pleasure of the book is how Japanese it is, it is enjoyable to read a different cultural context. This is a great comic, gripping story, superb art combined into a harmonious whole, a pleasure.

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