Missing, vol. 2: Letter of Misfortune
By Gakuto Coda, Translated by Andrew Cunningham
Tokyopop, 232 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)
The second of the thirteen volume Missing series brings more of the supernatural weirdness and magical theory that marked the initial volume. But this time Aki Kidono takes center stage, as her friends at the Literature Club race to solve the puzzle of a mysterious cursed fax which threatens her sanity and her life!
In the first volume, Aki Kidono played a rather crucial role. Being one of the two most capable and intelligent members of the five man literature club she was key in rescuing Kyoichi Utsume from the nebulous “other world.” During the course of the story it was mentioned that Kidono had a rather interesting link to the supernatural herself, and it’s that link and the cursed fax that brings it to the surface, which is the focus of this volume. That’s not the only thing that Gakuto Coda brings back from the original novel, as several supporting characters reappear and are expanded upon, including a mysterious “witch” who attends the same school as our protagonists. The horror in this volume felt a bit more tangible than in the original volume. I’m not sure if it’s just me; maybe I’m just more susceptible to the idea of being watched rather than being lost and confused, but about halfway through the volume is a fantastic sequence involving Aki and Ryoko that was wonderfully tense, creepy and paranoia inducing. The story is again clothed in the feeling of realism and research that made the original novel so enjoyable.
Unfortunately it’s not all roses, as it drags a bit in the beginning while the group attempts to establish whether or not the cursed fax is genuine, or whether it’s all in Kidono’s head. Speaking of Aki Kidono, she suffers the curse that seemingly all openly strong and capable female characters suffer from in Japanese fiction. Namely it’s all just a show and she’s not as strong as she presents herself. Also, after reading this I really had to wonder what the big deal about Kyoichi Utsume was in the original volume. He certainly comes across as an intelligent and capable person, but unfortunately he also comes across as pretty cold and unlikable, not to mention being a bit too perfect.
While the characters still feel fairly stock-ish, and the plot takes a little bit to really get going, I think the worst thing about this book is the last fifteen pages or so. No, they’re not the climax to the story, but a preview to the third volume that will probably never be printed. It’s a horrible, horrible tease of something that most likely will never come. In the end though, I was pretty glad that we at least got the first two volumes in English. They’re flawed, but still fairly entertaining, and the mysteries and the world that Coda is building are fascinating and I’d love to see more of them both.
Missing, vol. 2: Letter of Misfortune is available now.