*Warning: This may contain minor spoilers*
Synopsis: Tsutsui Tetsuya’s Manhole follows two Japanese detectives, as they try to put a stop to the potential epidemic that has begun to spread around different towns/cities, all because of a naked man who climbed out of a manhole.
Story/Plot: I have to start this off by saying that this manga really, really had a lot of potential. When a manga has a story interesting enough to make me want to binge read it in one sitting (even if it is only 29 chapters long), then you know there’s something about it that’s worth it. However, what the first two volumes worked so hard to successfully build-up, fell flat on its face with its third volume.
This manga was an interesting mix of detective and psychological horror. It progressed at a much quicker pace than normal stories do, but it didn’t feel abnormal in doing so. Well, until I reached volume three. That one felt forced and too coincidental (detectives suddenly remembering details exactly when an explanation needed to be made). It almost felt like the mangaka had to desperately meet his deadline, and just plopped down the most predictable way of ending the story. It was anti-climactic, to say the least. It’s a shame, too, because the first two volumes did a good job at building up the intensity of what was occurring, with a twist that I, myself, admittedly did not see coming (this was the only thing the third volume did well, I must say).
The art itself went back and forth a lot. When there was a creepy close-up of someone who was infected, the art was incredibly detailed, to the point where it was almost uncomfortable. The rest of the time, it was just ‘normal,’ I guess. I hate using that word to describe works of art, but there really wasn’t anything significant about all of the other scenes. The art wasn’t bad by any means, just… ugh, normal.
Characters: There wasn’t a huge cast for this story, but there were enough where I genuinely can’t remember anyone’s names as I’m writing this, except for the two main detectives (and that’s saying a lot, seeing as I just finished this earlier today).
I wouldn’t say the characters have a ton of development, but it’s not exactly lacking either. They just aren’t presented in a way that made me want to go out of my way to care about what happened to them. They were essentially just my source of information, as a majority of the plot is progressed through conversations and interactions between the several characters.
Favorite Character: Hmm, I suppose my favorite was the male detective, Mizoguchi. He has that dry sense of humor that’s just borderline sassiness that I love. He likes to mess with his fellow, much younger, female partner quite a bit, too, although he greatly cares about her on a deeper level. I’m not sure exactly how ‘deep’ that love goes, though, since their relationship is never explored. But, Mizoguchi was entertaining nonetheless.
Overall Score: I really did enjoy the story, but it had a lot of unexplored potential. The characters also didn’t particularly annoy me or bore me to death, so that was a major plus.
Do I Recommend This?: If you’re looking for a short, psychological horror manga, then sure. It’s not something I would go out of my way to recommend, especially when there are manga like Monster and even Tokyo Ghoul that could represent those genres much better. However, it’s not something I regret reading either. It was surprisingly pleasant for its length. So, all in all, with the intriguing plot in mind, I’ll give it a 7/10 for now.