Haunted by a family curse, a man fights against the sands of time that are quickly running out for him in this supernatural mystery.
The supernatural and Miyamoto Kano are both high on my favourites list, so I was excited getting into Sleeping Moon. But while Miyamoto has previously dabbled in the supernatural with shorter stories, this is the first series where she’s made it the focus. The result is a compelling manga that invokes equal amounts of suspense and sympathy.
The story revolves around Akihiko as he returns to his father’s hometown to investigate the truth behind the curse that has afflicted his family for generations.
The isolated village, the eerie house, the withdrawn twins, and the perpetual chill in the air combine to effectively create a sinister atmosphere. Add to that the ghost, deity and long-lost relative that Akihiko meets along the way, this could very easily have turned into a tragic, dark story, but strangely, it incorporates lighthearted moments within the fabric of the events and showcases the complexity of human emotion in a way only Miyamoto-Sensei can. There are genuinely scary moments and occasions when the characters’ desperation and agony really come through, but the execution prevents it from being gloomy; perhaps it’s due to the juxtaposition of the serious, matter-of-fact narration and the normal, everyday interaction and dialogue among characters.
The story builds up brilliantly and it remains gripping throughout as the puzzle unravels. I found myself constantly wondering if a person or an information is a red herring or the real thing, or if they’re even relevant at all; in other words, it’s everything a great mystery should be.
Another aspect in which this series deviates from the signature Miyamoto Kano style is that it’s a plot- rather than character-driven story. However, it’s through the realism in the characters that Miyamoto strikes a balance with the occult nature of the plot. As though to emphasise the dichotomy between modern rationality and ideas like sorcery, the protagonist is made out to be a scholar who’s up against a fuzzy, yet very real curse. For Akihiko, this results in a mishmash of disbelief, denial, helplessness, worry, and learning to deal with it through humour; so for the most part he lives life normally but with the threat of the curse constantly lurking at the back of his mind. I find this makes the characters more endearing than if they had been angsty or overly emo the entire time.
Inevitably, though, the lurking threat surfaces occasionally, rendering the characters desperate and vulnerable - circumstances that are highly conducive to romantic developments. It sounds cliché, but it actually falls together quite well. Until the somewhat rushed ending.
Miyamoto cites Poe, King and Lovecraft as some of her favourite authors. I don’t know if their works influence her, but I believe she has managed to create her own distinctive suspense style - and a good one at that. While Sleeping Moon is full of Lovecraftian elements and has King’s unputdownable factor, as well as an obvious classic Japanese horror influence, Miyamoto makes sure her quirks prevail. Besides her talent for making the supernatural seem real, she also has her very distinct art to her advantage. The leafless trees, the snow in the background and the seemingly uninhabited village certainly create a spooky atmosphere; not to mention the frightening ghost that jumps right out of the pages. I’m not sure if this was the intended effect, but I found the art creepy yet not terrifying.
Overall, Sleeping Moon is a really gripping supernatural mystery with a touch of romance, and not just in a “it’s good for a BL” kind of way, and anyone who enjoys mystery would probably find this interesting.
Background: As a hardcore yaoi fan (when I first picked up this work,) I never paid any interest to mangas with a main focus on the storyline rather than the sex/relationship (i.e. this manga precisely.) But as soon as I started, I was amazed with the creativity and immediately got sucked into the plot. When I finished, the only thing I could do was sit back and slowly clap while smiling, "Miyamoto Kano, you've done it again."
STORY: Nemueru Tsuki is about a young man who revisits an old, family-owned home to solve the mystery as to why the men of his family are cursed to
die at a young age. As our hero is the next in line and nears his late twenties, he struggles with his male cousin to solve this mystery and finally put a stop to it--even if they have to fight up against the supernatural. Seems like a familiar/overused plot, right? Wrong. I have no idea how she does it, but Miyamoto Kano took an ordinary family curse and turned it into a deeper mystery that involved just the tiiiiniest bit of horror. As I mentioned in the "background," this manga focuses more on the intriguing plotline than the actual yaoi (which is 100000% fine by me, because it's a unique change, even though the sex was still freaking hot) but as a result of me fighting my biased-ness and realizing that a manga categorized as "yaoi" that did not have enough "yaoi" wouldn't exactly be everyone's "cup of tea," I'm going to give the story a 9/10. (P.S.: A bit of advice, the story is a lot more interesting if you read it at night^^)
ART: What can I say? It's Miyamoto Kano. I fcking LOVE Miyamoto Kano's art, and it's not because the boys are "super sexy" or "the perfect bishies." It's because Miyamoto Kano's art style is straight up TIMELESS. You can't tell whether she made a work in 1998 or 2012. They look exactly the same and have a kind of "relatable" feel to them (plus she's mastered the side profile and the three-quarters profile.) It's definitely not the BEST art you've ever seen, but there are definitely no complaints and it's completely enjoyable to a point where you fall in love. 9/10
CHARACTER: Akihiko is our main character. He's an average man that get's twindled up by a family curse that may or may not kill him in a couple years. His cousin, Ren, may also suffer the same fate. (A few minor characters come into play, but since I'm trying to do a spoil-free review, I'm going to disregard them in this segment.) The only complaint I have about the character development is that the main couple seemed a bit "forced" to be together. Maybe it was just me. 8/10
ENJOYMENT: Like I said, reading this manga at night is probably the best decision you can make. It's perfect--it sets an eerie scene, the tone is dark and chilly, and it stimulates the plot in your head. My point is: Maybe /I/ enjoyed this manga so much partially because I read it on cold creepy nights and could relate to the dark atmosphere.
OVERALL: To be completely honest, at one point of reading this manga, I felt like I was watching a movie. Seriously, I think Miyamoto Kano should put this on the big screen. It would be a big hit, and I would throw all of my money at her.
Regardless of whether you like yaoi or not, this manga can be appealing to anybody out there looking for a mature, haunting, and intriguing mystery.
This mangaka is better know for her Hydra series, but this is better in my opinion.
Using elements of SciFi, horror and fantasy, it blends them in a very interesting story.
The family is cursed, and the eldest males all die before 35, so the current eldest and protagonist, is searching for a way to dispel the curse.
Because he’s having nightmares related to his old family house, he returns to the countryside to try to unveil the mystery. That’s when he starts time slipping, and goes to the past, as he works with one of his ancestors in the past, and his cousin in the present, to
figure out why they’re cursed, what happened, and why there’s a mist-clad kimono person stalking them and promising them they’re next to die.
I super love when BL introduces rare genres, and this is a really interesting mystery, you’ll be left in suspense till the end!