The Korean movie Old boy based on this manga is a millions times better. I mean this manga has a great premise; a man is locked away for 10 year for reasons that are unknown to him and then is suddenly released without being told why. The story follows his search to find out who was behind it so he can get his revenge. But it doesn’t really take it anywhere.
The start of the series is fantastic. It has atmosphere, it’s really pulpy and film noire. It’s interesting to see the mystery unravel and to see how Gotou deals with the situations he’s in. Some of the early plot points I think are really clever and original.
One of the manga’s biggest downfalls is that this series is about 2 or 3 volumes too long. The story is stretched out so much and it loses its edge. I get the feeling that Tsuchiya Garon had kind of written himself into a corner without really planning out the ending. The other thing that really killed this for me was the ending. It was such a huge disappointment. I felt cheated. There is no real payoff after so much build up.
The antagonist of the series, the person who locked Gotou away, seems really weak to me and when you find out the reason why he locked him away I think he gets even weaker. He has little motivation for what he does and most of the time it seems he’s not really that driven about it. Gotou himself is your average stoic hero. I didn’t really feel he had character and was just a vessel for the story to revolve around. I did like Eri though. I thought she was really interesting especially in the beginning. She seemed kind of gutsy and independent.
I think Old boy is still worth reading and if you’re a hardcore manga fan I don’t think you can really go without giving it a look. As I said the beginning really is fantastic and well written it just fizzles out at the end.