Mar 6, 2017
The-Third-Kira (All reviews)
I wouldn't call this work "pretentious" because I don't think Hideo Yamamoto is a good enough writer to be called pretentious. I would, however, call it a rambling, messy attempt at philosophising.

The art in Homunculus is fantastic, and the story is intriguing, but the manga loses itself when Yamamoto slows everything to a grinding halt to have two characters repeat lines of nonsensical dialogue to each other in an attempt at driving home some "deep" message. "We get it. We got the message 10 chapters ago. There's no need to repeat yourself." I found myself saying that (in my head) nearly every chapter.

When the manga doesn't creep to a slow crawl to bang philosophical meanderings into our skulls, it really shines. The entire first arc where we see Nakoshi first drawn into the world of trepanation is fascinating, as is his initial relationship to Itoh. Nakoshi's gradual descent into insanity is where I found myself wholly invested in Homunculus, and the ending was satisfying, albeit a bit rushed (because the author spent so damn long repeating the same bits of dialogue and philosophical nothings to us over and over again!)

Honestly, I can't say that I recommend this manga. Is it beautifully drawn? Absolutely. Is it a page-turner? For me it was, but only because I was hoping for something that was never really there. You'll like it if you're okay with being spoon-fed nonsense about "seeing the truth," but if you've read your share of literature, you'll see right through Yamamoto's preachy attempts at being deep. Homunculus has an intriguing premise, and it does a lot of things well, but it's a try-hard mess and not much else.