Otodama: Voice From the Dead, Vol. 1
by Youka Nitta
DMP/DokiDoki, 191 pp.
Rating: Young Adults (16+)
Otodama is a supernatural mystery series that at times echoes episodes of X-Files with it’s focus on the line between the supernatural and science. Kaname Otonashi and Yasuhide Nagatsuma are ex-cops who team up to work in the private sector as PI’s and the like. Hide does most of the heavy work, while Kaname pitches in thanks to his extraordinary hearing which can pick up sounds outside of the normal human range, including those from beyond the grave!
Otodama is a piece of weird fiction that straddles the line between the police drama and the paranormal detective genres. The heavy emphasis on tracking down a suspect while working within the confines of the legal system blends with bits of pseudo science like EVP recordings to deliver a rather interesting mix. The characters of Kaname and Hide are both fairly interesting and share a bond so intense that I was surprised they went the entire volume without cuddling or kissing. I’m guessing they might have if it wasn’t for the fact that they were neck deep in murder investigations the entire time. While the reason for their bond isn’t quite revealed, it’s heavily suggested that it involves their reason for leaving the police force and seems to involve Hide’s brother, Yasuhiro, who’s still on the police force.
Nitta’s artwork struck me as very average. Just about everyone has the same basic facial shape – at least everyone that’s supposed to be attractive – to the point where one of the female characters looks suspiciously like a drag queen. I half expected a scene where she goes home and takes off her wig and make up to reveal a pretty boy with short blonde hair. The backgrounds are a bit barren and there’s a heavy use of toning for shading and attempts at conveying textures. On top all this, most of the full body shots or brief action sequences come off as stiff and awkward.
I love the fact that Otodama dabbles in that weird area where science and the supernatural meet and attempt to feel each other out and I really hope they do more with it in the future as it would help give the stuff some bite. The weak artwork was a bit of a turn off, but if things get interesting enough in future volumes I think it’s something I could learn to live with. In the end, it was an ok read but right now I have hard time imagining myself becoming a long term fan of it.
Otodama, Vol. 1 is available now. Review copy provided by the publisher.