"The Voices That Call Me" is a one-shot that defines the term 'abysmal'.
It is one thing to create a story with horrible artwork, dialogue, characterisation and themes, but it is another to marry your turd with morally reprehensible scenes which exist for no reason but to shock and appal the reader. By the end of these worthless thirty pages I certainly felt shocked, but not because of the rape, castration and murder-- but because I couldn't understand why anyone would think it OK to publish such a pile of shite.
Allow me to explain the deep, intricate story found in the torturous thirty pages
of The Voices That Call Me. Do keep in mind that spoilers will follow for the next two paragraphs, in case you were in a masochistic mood and felt like experiencing this vulgar dreck first-hand.
A young hikikomori is shut away, trapped in his room and regularly participates in self-aggrandizing fantasies about the success he feels he deserves. A few pages later he is shown to not only be a delusional twat, but a serial rapist and murderer. Eventually he is caught in the act (because locking the door while committing a terrible crime would make too much sense) and has his penis presumably cut off by the victim. And then it ends. That's it. Really.
I suppose it does at least attempt to justify wasting the reader's time by passing it off at the end as some form of dark humour, but it is a terrible attempt at humour nonetheless. The punchline is a variation of the "don't do this at home" cliché, a warning for the reader to not follow the 'voices' outside or else something terrible will inevitably happen to them. And, oh wait-- prepare to die of laughter-- the news reporter says this while holding a pair of bloody scissors in the last panel. Oh, man, my sides are killing me! This is way too hilarious. It makes everything beforehand worth it.
Occasionally there's a sign that the story might delve into something more interesting: a talk at the supermarket with another lunatic about society glorifying family life, or how all humans possess a unique talent, but of course these comments evaporate into thin air in the next panel. There is no conversation going on with the reader; the mangaka would rather rely on shock value than put in the effort to say something of value.
The only way I can rationalise this manga's existence is if the mangaka considers himself a part of the 'denpa' (lit. radio wave) genre (and it's likely he does, considering the protagonist is literally following the radio waves inside his head). The denpa genre involves disturbing and horror-like stories told through the eyes of a delusional and paranoid protagonist. Most of the time they attempt to convey the protagonist's mental breakdown by being deliberately incomprehensible at points, but the incomprehensibility in The Voices That Call Me does not ever seem intentional. Unlike something such as Higurashi or the visual novel Subarashiki Hibi, the gore and degeneracy shown here exists only to disgust the reader. It doesn't bother to develop a haunting atmosphere or to create a protagonist convincing enough that the reader can empathise with them; it's just 'shit happens, here, go cringe and laugh at it!'
The Voices That Call Me is an abject failure in every regard. There is not a single thing about it that deserves praise, nor is there any reason to recommend this blubbering pile of filth to anyone who isn't a masochist. It's poorly-crafted, pointless, and worse-- utterly offensive.
I suppose the only thing in its defence is that it's still not quite as bad as Apocalypse Zero.
This is the first manga I have ever rated a "1" so far. I love psychological stories and, while I know they are often confusing and do not always have clear conclusions or lines between reality and make-believe, "The Voices That Call Me" just has absolutely nothing going for it. It is very confusing, has an extremely open ended ending with almost absolutely nothing having been accomplished, has a lot of pointless philosophical banter that goes on for about 6 or 7 pages, and it's also kind of a hentai.
Let me rephrase that for anyone quickly skimming through here, this one shot is extremely explicit
(despite MAL not listing it as such). It does not focus much on the nudity but there is still a blowjob, fingering, and a little other stuff for a couple pages.
This is a one shot, so of course it's a fairly quick story, but it wastes a lot of time on things that really don't seem to have any purpose. Anyway, about the story, it follows a hikikimori (loner who hardly ever or never goes outside) who one day hears voices calling him (this part was so quick I forget what they even said to him if it actually mentioned it all). So, following the voices, the man decides to leave his room for the first time in 15 years. He wanders around and ends up at a convenience store. He hears someone say something and asks the man next to him if he said anything, to which the man responds "No." However, the man is one seriously fucked up guy (can't think of a better way to put it). He starts rambling about some philosophical thing that seems to apply to him and makes it sound like he recently divorced his wife. The hikikimori kind of ignores him for a while, but eventually gets dragged into even weirder stuff with the guy (one of my main problems with this one shot is this weird guy because his rambling goes on for far too long and he's just plain psychotic). Some more stuff happens and the hikikimori ends up following the voices he hears to a girl's house. And that's where the short hentai stuff happens so you can probably guess kind of how that goes.
I'll stop talking about the story there to avoid giving away any of the few somewhat important parts of the story. As for the art, it is also very weak. The characters are drawn poorly (the main character looks especially weird and bland). The short hentai part isn't even long enough for someone to really "enjoy" it if that's what your reading this for (which I wasn't since I didn't even know it was like that beforehand).
The characters really just consist of the hikikimori protagonist, the philisophical psychotic, the girl whose house the hikikimori invades, and the girl's friends. None of them stand out in the slightest aside from being annoying.
I did not enjoy this manga at all (it had like one funny line towards the end but that was about it). The story was confusing and pointless, the art was bad, the characters were bizarre and annoying, and the story ended quickly with a confusing ending. I would not recommend this manga to anyone as I feel there is no reason to read this. Just leave this page and don't read it.
A brief and entertaining one-shot for those who understand firstly that this is bizarre and explicit. Other reviewers seem to feel that there's nothing going for the story meaning-wise to justify, in a sense, the goings-on. It's one thing for a manga to entertain through strange happenings, but when a manga attempts to directly philosophize it and bring meaning to it, the audience suddenly shrinks. I'd actually wager that if the mangaka took a more subtle approach it might've connected better with people, as while we all understand words on a basic level, we don't all understand things well through the same use of them.
"The Voices That Call Me" is a mild exploration of the "hikikomori", which is a person who chooses to live to themselves within a room - their finances sustained by another. This story in particular explores the basic idea that every human being seeks companionship, but that through the experience of a hikikomori they grow to only really care about themselves. The hikikomori's search for companionship shows how although they want interaction, it's down to a physical level. We're social creatures, so it goes to show how much of an outcast this hikikomori truly is, even if he leaves his room right now. It goes to show they can't re-enter society without assistance.