Welcome to the Voynich Hotel, a rundown resort located on an all but deserted island in the South Pacific. Owned by former Mexican wrestler Kandre Umeda, the hotel is maintained by two mysterious maids, Elena and Beluna, as well as a homicidal chef named Amelia.
Kuzuki Taizou, a Japanese tourist, comes to stay at the hotel to escape from his dark past. Soon he discovers that the strange occupants and happenings of the island are even more abnormal than what he is used to. Taizou quickly becomes embroiled in the spiderweb of affairs on the island, growing close to many of the residents and helping them out, though often causing even more problems for himself. But when Taizou's past comes to the island to haunt him, his new friends jump to his aid.
What an unappealing synopsis.
here you were browsing through the MAL, looking for something fun to read, and by accident you opened this title.
plot based on several characters? story about an island? what the heck, why would anybody read this?
I won't argue, this is indeed what this manga is about. but by no means is it bad.
I could write about the art so great it looks like it was created solely for the purpose of this story.
I could tell you that the characters are so vibrant and charismatic you can't decide who's the main cast, and frankly, you don't care because all of
them are worthwhile.
but I fear i couldn't give this manga justice without sounding biased, so all I will do is reccomend it to you, and hope you will make that first step of reading the first chapter.
Sayman Dowman is an extremely interesting creator for two reasons. Firstly is his distinct art style which reminds one of Kouji Kumeta in its poppy sorta-minimalism. Secondly is his story-telling method of stringing together 'short-short' chapters and making sure each chapter resolves as its own small joke although still telling an over-arching story.
And also there's that whole 'quirky humor' aspect.
This storytelling tradition isn't really new in Japan though. Hoshi Shinichi and Yasutaka Tsuitsui are examples of writers who focused on making short stories that told an interesting set-up and bizarre twist in a few short pages. There's also Kawabata's famous 'palm of the hand stories'.
But there's a kind of joyous buzz you get when you read stories in this form, because they're like delicious little bits of confectionery. Each chapter is a surprise.
Thus, in order to honor the style of Sayman Dowman, here's a short-short that I call "CZXCJX DOES HIS OWN TAKE OF THE ISEKAI GENRE":
The man of no particular distinction was transported into a different world. He opened his eyes . He was in a small glade with sunlight streaming through the trees. A beautiful witch was standing there. The man of no particular distinction was surprised, but this was exactly what he had read about in the fantasy novels he was addicted to.
"Am I in a new world? Can I finally make a name for myself?" he said.
The witch smiled.
"Yes. I have called you here because I want you to destroy a great evil. A tyrant has conquered the city and he razed my village to the ground with his troops. I was the only survivor. I have held vengeance within my heart, seeking for the opportune moment to summon a heroic spirit such as yourself to aid in my vendetta."
He felt magic power throb in his muscles. He roared. She led him out of the glade to a camp whereby the rest of her comrades were waiting. They roared in joy as well. They provided him with armor and weapons. They taught him how to fight. The training was tough but he made many friends. A few months later, he was ready.
In the dead of the night, the band stormed the castle. The gates were opened thanks to a spy that had managed to get on the inner court's good side. The night guards were surprised, and they were cut down before they could react. Eventually, the rebellion reached the inner sanctum of the King.
Seated on the throne was a youth in jeans and a sweater - a man of no particular distinction much like himself.
He stood up.
He walked over to the center of the room.
He drew out his sword.
The first man was flabbergasted. He noticed that his allies were standing by the side. They watched without interfering.
The second man screamed.
"You are now the plaything of an Elder One! This grand show of Rebel and Tyrant is all a sham! If I should slay you, then you will be the next liege, and if you should slay me then I will retain my position! We shall all be eventual losers in this endless dance! And all the winner receives is a short stint of luxury before he has to return to the arena! Even then, that witch will always be there, reminding you that your soul shall eventually be hers to consume!"
The first man looked to the witch. She looked the same, but there was something sinister about her now. It was as though, behind that face, was a monster made of many eyes and the countless screams of the forgotten.
"The soul that is slain shall be eaten. But there is only one solution! You must die by your own hand! Only that way will you be spared from the accursed tentacles of Azathoth!"
The first man was in a pit and confusion as despair. Had it all been a lie? He was still a man of no particular distinction, and he was now going to be consumed in a dark pit of some alien mouth. Either that, or he had to fight to survive, and then die in a later day.
It was too much for him.
He took his blade, and gutted himself.
His blood spilled on the floor.
The last thing he saw, was the smile of the second man, leering at him with a ghastly face.
When the performance was over, the second man breathed a sigh of relief. The 'rebels' cleared the corpse away. The witch walked over to his side and sat on his lap. The night guards that had been 'stabbed' wiped away the fake blood from their armor.
"My liege. It seems that the next hero shall appear in the Day of Fires at the Stonehook Mountain. That is what is written in the stars."
The second man gave the witch a kiss on the cheek.
"Excellent. I am glad to have been the first one to think of this. I don't want any other losers getting in the way of my agricultural reform just because they want to play Hero and lead a meaningless rebellion. Soon, we shall finally have enough men and supplies to assault the Demon King's Castle in the East."
Outside of the castle, peasants labored away in square fields. It was the method developed by Chinese civilization that helped to maximize their own growth. But it was a method that did not work unless the people were co-ordinated to ensure that everything was working well together. The king was a pragmatic tyrant. He was inspired by the Legalist methods that he read in history books to help in administration of the Kingdom.
The main reason why the Kingdom was so easily besieged by the Demon King was precisely because of this lack of order. The 'heroic spirit' system was a stupidity that made the citizenry constantly look up to the heavens for a savior rather than take matters into their own hands. A few old documents and studies done by the scholars of the inner sanctum even contained the theory that this was an arrangement determined by the Demon King himself - done in order to ensure that only the weakest heroes would stand in his way while keeping the citizenry placated with false hope.
But, in a few years, they would finally stand a chance. It was a plan that was not made from relying on heroes, but it was made from the sweat of men.
The witch left the king's lap, and headed off to continue her preparation for the next 'summoning'. To help another poor sap get 'adjusted' into his new world.
This was going to be a new world all right. Just not what they were expecting.
Ahh the world of Voynich Hotel, Or Vovnich Hotel depending on your spelling (now referred to as VH).
This is probably one of my favorite manga currently running at the time of writing and the other one is the esteemed Kaichou Wa Maid Sama, but this isn't a Maid Sama review...
This is a VOYNICH HOTEL review, as emphasised by the capital letters and the fact that this indeed resides in the review section for that manga
So let us begin the review in generic format of each category, because that doesn't happen enough nowadays
As you can see i wasn't kidding with the format, so if my inherent
sarcasm hasn't steam trained into you then it might have now, i'm like that sometimes.
No personal offense by the way, i genuinely like this format, my sarcasm and you, the reader of this review (don't get any ideas...).
And so i shall begin :
For those who are reading this review because you think such things as "I'm intrigued by a swirling plot line with no set story" and "I really want to see a bunch of Marijuana growers, a homosexual assassin, witches and a load of other fun characters staying in a hotel on a random island" then this is the manga for you.
VH only has a few things which are definite in the plot line
1) There is a hotel with 2 maids, a cook and an owner in the southwest pacific island known as Blefuscu Isle.
2) Apart from Kuzuki and the natives all character appearances are random.
3) Local legend about the "Three Mothers".
This is what gives VH it's freedom to do what it wants to and ultimately delivers that 10/10, because the reader is treated to one of the more random but utterly enchanting Slice Of Life/Comedy Manga around (don't let the tags fool you, it's these too).
You can can never predict what will happen next and although that can sometimes be annoying VH does it in a way which makes you think anything is possible in the next chapter, you accept these crazy things as normal events and whats more, you find yourself going along with this.
It's this winning set which is so hard to achieve along with an enjoyable content to match which sets this as one of the best storylines i've ever read, without a actual story or apparent wanting for one.
I always stick by my phrase "The beauty is in the eye of the beholder" when it comes to this, I personally love the simplistic art used in VH as i feel it reflects the pure enjoyable simplicity of the stories Slice Of Life feel.
But this is a personal category and so i won't talk much about it.
These are the beautiful stars in the amazing clear night sky, the variation of people you meet in this manga is outstanding. From the homosexual assassin to the young gang, the pro wrestler to the overly sexual robotic cop, the one-chapter model to the almost omnipresent main three characters, each of these bring their own fun little stories and plot input.
For the majority of this manga you will laugh at most, sympathise with others, be horrified by some decisions they make but most importantly you'll quite happily like all of them. And despite the occasional huge difference in personality they all act flawlessly in their roles, all the while gracefully waltzing through the collective minefield of random events that pop up and have a habit of exploding like a landmine.
Because of it's disregard for plot, normality, any sense of rational thinking and chapters longer than 15 pages you'd be forgiven for believing that this was not enjoyable, sure it's interesting but interest comes at a price right?
Wrong here, this is one of the few "screw it let's have whatever we want, have a bucket load of fun and still make some sense while having an original plotline" manga you will find.
You will be smiling for almost every page as something odder, more unbelievable and quite hilarious happens, it is this and the constant "what could they do next/this is plain stupid" aspect which makes you want to just jump right into this crazy world and have even more fun than you would by just reading it.
In summary this is probably the best short chapter manga i have ever read, even if you aren't a fan of complete enjoyable randomosity like me i think there is something for everyone to enjoy among this mangas varied settings and lovable characters.
As long as you don't believe Chuck Norris is un-hitable that is...
Now go read this Manga, you don't need things like sleep, personal hygiene or food at the moment.
Hotel Voynich is a story about the titular hotel, the island it's located on and its inhabitants. The story follows a bunch of different characters, ranging from a trio of female drug dealers, competing assassins, a suicidal chef and the hotel manager who supposedly bested Chuck Norris in combat. The main focus rests on a Japanese guy named Taizou though, a man with a past. As you may have noticed, the cast is pretty colorful, and combined with the varying points of view it conveys the basic set-up for a slice-of-life. At least I thought it was a slice-of-life at first, albeit a quirky one.
It's not though, and that's the most wonderful thing with this manga.
It actually has a plot.
In the start stuff doesn't make that much sense. Though as you progress through the chapters, getting bits of information from the different narratives, you start to get the general idea of the history of the island, what's going on and the back story of the different characters. A lot of things are only implied (rather heavily though), leaving you to piece together the last bits yourself. The ending leaves you with a lot of loose ends, which makes me kind of sad since I possibly have to wait four years for the next volume (the chapters of the first volume were serialized between 2006-2010). Also, there's some comedy mixed into the story as well. It doesn't try being funny all the time, but when it wants to be it is fucking hilarious.
In conclusion: if you can read Japanese, read this.