"This tower is full of criminals, murderers, and sexual deviants. As an ordinary person, you're the weirdest among us all."
I’ve just finished re-reading Yuureitou, and its entertainment value for me still remains at a 10. Everything, from the art and insane characters to the way the story is told amazes me. Yuureitou is not just a mystery revolving a clock tower; it’s also a story on gender identity and how sexual deviants (transgender, homo) belonged in ‘50s Japan.
There’s the main overarching story: the clocktower mystery. Then, there are multiple arcs that consist of intriguing adventures the main characters go through. These mini adventures are quite unique in the sense that they’re not something you’d expect from a manga. They fit so well with the setting that you can tell the author has done his research thoroughly. There’s always an awareness of time and history with each adventure.
While Yuureitou showcases many dark issues that characterize this society, it strays away from the typical overuse of violence. We get to see the mindset of the criminals, and their background + motives don't fail to entertain.
After the main mystery is resolved, the rest of the manga dedicates itself to flesh out its main characters and resolve their loose ends. It’s a sharp 90 degree turn in the mood, as the topic of sexual deviation overtakes the story. It gets a little whacky and wild, but these last chapters don’t disappoint, since they accomplish the job of closing in what has been built up throughout the manga.
Before I re-read Yuureitou (after one year), I was able to vividly remember two characters because of their uniqueness: Tetsuo and Marube. Here’s what I think of them + others:
-Our MC, Tetsuo, is the star of the show. He’s the guy that’s interesting right from the get go. Tetsuo’s cunning, intelligent, and charming. Just like the overarching plot, many mysteries surround him. He appears flawless at first glance, but as the story transpires, you see his weaknesses and insecurities clearly.
-Marube is one of the baddie characters. He’s perverted and downright mad, but the way the author presents him and his story makes it hard to hate him. While difficult to empathize with the crazy side of him, Dokurou is still an intelligent character whose reasonings behind his actions make sense.
-The other MC Amano is the typical wussy that ultimately changes for the good. The readers see how he, a “normal” person, perceives social deviants and his acceptance of them. Most of the story is seen through Amano.
-Mystery killer ‘Shibanmushi’ is the main antagonist of the clocktower mystery. Nothing about him intrigued me much, but we do get to see his character developed with his frequent encounters with Tetsuo. Even though Shibanmushi is the antagonist of the overarching story, imo Marube’s perverse character overwhelms his presence.
The art: There’s no cringey over exaggeration of facial expressions that plague a lot of anime and manga, so that’s an A+ from me. Putting that aside, the first thing you’ll notice when you begin Yuureitou is that the backgrounds and semi-realistic art style are fantastic. The author really knows his anatomy; this fact is particularly important as the story often showcases some grotesque display of corpses, humans in the wake of death, and after failed plastic surgery
I suggest you to give this a try if you’re looking for a more serious mystery to dwell upon, or if you’re curious to see how a manga approaches the transgender topic.