A twisted old man, gifted with extrasensory powers, silently holds sway over an entire block of apartments. The occupants are puppets for him to control. Life is his to give...and to take. But suddenly there is a new voice in his head, and before he knows it, a young girl with her own battery of psychic abilities has arrived to challenge him! Soon, the sprawling complex becomes a battleground between two minds possessing incredible, unimaginable power.
Doumu won the 4th Japan Science Fiction Grand Prix award, the first graphic novel ever to be awarded such an honor, and was granted an excellence award at the 1981 Japan Cartoonists Association Award.
The series was published in English as Domu: A Child's Dream by Dark Horse in individual volumes in 1995 and was compiled together in February 13, 1996 (re-issued in 2001) which was one of Dark Horse's top sellers for that year.
A dreary apartment complex somewhere in Japan has been suffering all manner of weird inexplicable deaths for a few years by the time this story opens with the police investigation of yet another suicide.
We follow the chief investigator as he goes through the procedural motions of trying to find out what’s going on, and then by the end of the first chapter we meet our antagonist, hovering above the ground slightly, dressed in the spoils of his demented war against random working class people trying to get through their days in peace.
The malevolence displayed by this elderly man really is despicable not only because of
his actions but because of his age which you automatically associate with helplessness, and his attitude to destroying lives. It’s the kind of evil you see in children, which is the lovely irony of the whole story.
Katsuhiro Otomo's Domu continues his fascination with abnormal powers in the hands of unstable characters that wreck havoc all around them. The apartment block serves as an interesting backdrop to the mental and psychological battles waged between the crotchety antagonist and his youthful nemesis. These cat and mouse conflicts are heightened by the fact that the population of the apartment complex are threatened as collateral damage, which makes for great edge-of-your-seat reading.
The setting of Domu provides many windows into the lives of characters inhabiting the apartment complex. This cast that populates Domu gives the story a humanising aspect rather than have it remain an isolated series of incidents involving a good guy, bad guy and things blowing up. The potential of telekinetic and mind control powers gone awry affects many people, their families and friends. Suspense is not suspense unless the stakes are high.
The scene composition and pacing in this manga is as if Alfred Hitchcock possessed Otomo, with wide angled shots of running characters shadowed by tall buildings around them, close-ups of sweating people, dead people appearing to freak out their still-mourning friends and disappearing again, the suspense is ratcheted all the way with skill in a way Otomo excels at best. The empty corridors of an apartment complex provide many eerie scenes to revel in for fans of potboiling-crime/horror thrillers.
The suspense ultimately gives way to a type of destruction that Otomo is famed for, concrete foundations are ripped, towers are toppled and glass is shattered into a million pieces in an action-packed climax that is full of masterful staging, pace, set pieces and panels of brilliant art. There is barely any dialogue for the last half of the manga, which some might deem a flaw but I deem a refreshing change from long monologues or speeches in the middle of action scenes that rip me out of the story.
Domu keeps me captivated from the first page to the last ultimately leaving me as breathless as everyone else in the end when the dust has settled.
In what is assumed to be contemporary Tokyo, the Tsutsumi Housing Complex has experienced a series of unexplained deaths over the last three years.
Responsible for the string of death is an old man, called “Old Cho” by his neighbors, with a child-like mind and strong extrasensory powers. His motives are that of a child — he sees something he wants, and takes it at the expense of the life of the owner.
This may seem a spoiler, but despite the mystery tone of the narrative's first half, it is clear to the audience who is responsible very early on. The first half deals with
the investigation of one of Old Cho's recent victims, switching between different members of the team encountering befuddling clues and strange events.
Tensions deepen as a policeman and the head detective become the next victims. Simultaneously, another story unfolds as a young girl, Etsuko, who also has unexplained powers, becomes aware of the old man's actions. The situation escalates as “Old Cho” reacts defensively to the threat of another being with similar powers. Midway, the story shifts from the slower paced mystery to a frenetic sequence of events, leading to a violent telepathic showdown between Cho and Etsuko.
The investigation angle is played throughout, but ultimately adds little to the narrative. It is intended as a way to explore the mystery of the unexplained deaths, helping the audience piece together facts over time, but it would have been more effective if the audience weren't already aware of the culprit's identity. Furthermore, the activities that prompt the climactic confrontation and eventual resolution are entirely independent of the investigators. Etsuko recognizes Old Cho's powers without any prompting from the investigation, as she just happens to notice his silent manipulations while playing in the park one day. It would have been more sensible to focus on developing Etsuko and exploring the mind of Cho, downplaying the investigative element.
As for Etsuko, the audience never really gets to learn much about her, making her more plot device than person. Where the graphic novel truly succeeds, however, is in the latter half, the battle between Cho and Etsuko. The pacing rapidly accelerates, and becomes an unrelenting feast of manga action as the two wreak havoc in their attempt to destroy the other. This confrontation is one of the better action sequences in manga, without any of the messy linework or problematic pacing that often hurt the flow of such scenes. The final pages are absolutely brilliant with an eerily low-key finale that highlights the theme of the mysterious mind of children.
This hyper, telekinetic thriller defines Domu, and leaves little room for anything else — Otomo's tale doesn't use the story as a platform to tackle issues with any significant depth. That said, he does utilize some interesting concepts throughout, but as setting and not commentary. For example, link between a child's mind and psychic powers is the central theme of the story, but Otomo didn't really explore this until his work in Akira. Still, setting is an important facet of a story, and used effectively in Domu to develop the atmosphere of his work. Inspired by Otomo's own experience moving to Tokyo, the apartment complex in Domu evokes the feelings of congested urban life. In an interview with Yomiura, Otomo commented on the people living in a recently developed public housing complex, saying that they "never seemed to adapt to this sort of crowd urban living, but they found themselves trapped in that world." That feeling comes across very well in Domu, and serves as an effective backdrop for the story.
Otomo weaves a clever narrative comprised of Old Cho, the subtle noir-esque atmosphere surrounding the apartment complex, and the captivating energy of the explosively violent climax. One strength of the lack of relatable characters is that there isn't really much impact when they are killed; this may sound like a bad thing, but I appreciate that I can enjoy the story for what it is without being weighed down by emotionally manipulative drama. My only significant complaint is that I wish the investigative aspect were better weaved into the overall narrative.
As expected of Otomo, the artwork is incredible. The character designs stand out against manga's tendency toward over-the-top designs; Otomo's story is populated by everyday Tokyo residents who are appropriately plain, but readily distinguishable from each other.
I find it amusing that, simply by resembling ordinary people Otomo's designs seem out of the ordinary in manga. Outside of character design, the visuals are extremely capable at presenting the feel of the story. During the slower-paced beginning, the level of detail is adequate and realistic in a way that doesn't really push the reader forward or force the reader to slow down and carefully examine the scenery.
Many of the more dramatic scenes take place at night, when Otomo utilizes high black and white contrast to maintain a consistently foreboding atmosphere. Many panels in these night scenes feature well-formed lit apartments that create geometric visual interest and highlight the urban claustrophobia. As the pacing increases during the battle, the artwork elevates to a cinematic feel with further gorgeous night scenes and thought-out aesthetic composition that adds a certain stark beauty to the rampant urban destruction.
Panels instantly fixate the reader's eye on the key detail, and even the scenes of destruction are structured in a way that the reader doesn't get lost in speed lines and rubble. Otomo often uses sharp contrast and minimal shapes to create panels that are instantly comprehensible for an energetic reading of the plot, but are designed with enough artistic merit to reward a slower re-reading.
Many anime fans demand high characterization to be a focal theme to enjoy a piece of writing, but Domu absolutely excels at what it is trying to be a strong example of short story comic writing that is able to capture a compelling atmosphere and engaging action in a tremendously fun way.
-This review is in English and Spanish.
-Esta review esta en Ingles y Español.
This manga is one of the first works of Katsuhiro Otomo and that I sit the bases of Akira, here begins the review.
The story presents an interesting premise, a mass of mysterious deaths surrounding an apartment building,while it looks like the cops are looking for an answer, the beginning of the manga is very good,hypotheses are shown and works well, While some characters are presented, Although from the middle of the manga begins a sudden spiral of confused violence that, without any reason besides that it does not clarify many things at the
end, I would say it starts well but from the middle it becomes confusing and has an ending that does not explain anything.
The truth is that there is not much to say, presents some characters, a police, a girl and some more but because of the short size of the sleeve attached to that half is senseless violence there is not much I can say.
2 words:Katsuhiro Otomo,drawing very realistic, although it presents a lot of action without sense, is very well drawn, with unique drawings, there is nothing negative that can say.
Has been interesting and entertaining, with an interesting start and a very good fight and although the end did not clarify anything has not been a waste of time.
Although it is not a great manga, it is interesting and entertaining and if you have nothing to do you should take a look.
Este manga es unos de los primeros trabajos de Katsuhiro Otomo y que sento las bases de Akira,aqui comienza la review.
La historia presenta una interesante premisa,un grupo de muertes misteriosas en un bloque de apartamentos,mientras los policías están buscando una respuesta, el principio del manga es muy bueno,se muestran hipótesis y funciona bien, Mientras se presentan algunos personajes,aunque a partir de la mitad del manga empieza una repentina espiral de violencia confusa que empieza sin ninguna razón además de que no aclara muchas cosas al final,diría que empieza bien pero desde la mitad del manga se vuelve confuso y tiene un final que no explica nada.
La verdad es que no hay mucho que pueda decir,presenta algunos personajes:un policía,una niña y algunos más,pero debido al tamaño corto del manga unido a que desde la mitad del manga es violencia sin sentido no hay mucho mas que decir.
Dos palabras:Katsuhiro Otomo,dibujo muy realista,aunque presenta mucha acción sin sentido, está muy bien dibujado,con dibujos únicos,no hay nada negativo que pueda decir.
Ha sido interesante y entretenido,con un comienzo interesante y una pelea muy buena y aunque el final no aclaró nada no ha sido una pérdida de tiempo.
Aunque no es un gran manga,es interesante y entretenido y si no tienes nada que hacer deberías echarle un vistazo.
This manga was nothing short of revolutionary. I can only imagine Katsuhiro Otomo had a vision, and suddenly knew what future manga should look like. The character designs were out of this world, and immediately copied by his contemporaries (most notably Naoki Urasawa, or even in shoujo (Banana Fish)). Every detail in his artwork was breathtaking and a giant leap forward for the medium in general.
The pace picks up a few notches compared to any other manga of the time. And the psychological mindfuckery may seem normal to anime-lovers, but it wasn't ever done this effectively, until Otomo came along and added the intensity that
was needed in existing manga about ESPers.
It was Akira that made Otomo so influential, but Doumu was first, and I'd even call it a more satisfying read. While Akira was lengthy and could be blamed for having one or two chase-sequences too many, Doumu is a short and powerful smack in the hypothalamus. It deserved all the credit and awards it got.
Akira will be remembered, but for me, Doumu gets the extra points for being Otomo's first longer work, introducing his suspenseful, intense and at times gory style, which fan boys appreciate so much in all their current favourite anime.
Also features: beautiful drawings of exploding buildings