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Doubt, Vols. 1 + 2

Welcome to another midweek manga review! With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the Yoshiki Tonogai’s horror/mystery series, Doubt, Vols. 1 + 2! But first, some news…

 

 

 

And now, my review of Doubt, Vols. 1 + 2

Doubt, Vol. 1Doubt, Vols. 1 + 2
by Yoshiki Tonogai
Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

The mobile phone game Rabbit Doubt is sweeping Japan! In it, players are “rabbits” who attempt to discover which player is the “wolf” before it’s too late. Among it’s many fans is Yuu, a highschooler about to attend a small gathering of other players. Unfortunately, for some the game of Rabbit Doubt isn’t limited to the digital world. Trapped in a seemingly empty warehouse, Yuu and his friends find themselves playing a real life game of Rabbit Doubt. Can they uncover the wolf in their midst before it’s too late? From Yen Press comes Yoshiki Tonogai’s, Doubt! The series takes elements from the slasher and whodunnit mystery genres and blends together in a entertaining series.

Tonogai sets up the locked room mystery and introduces us to cast of suspects and victims, slowly whittling down the list throughout the two volumes. At times it feels reminiscent of Saw, and at other times it echoes brutal, paranoia inducing works like Battle Royale. While the characters rarely come off as more than two dimensional, Tonogai does a fine job at hand waving that by focusing on the mystery and allowing us to watch Yuu and the others attempt to solve it as their short lived friendships slowly unravel before our eyes. One might think that a group of people who barely know each other wouldn’t function well under this kind of stress, and they’re right. The vague familiarity with each other only serves to reinforce the paranoia felt between the cast, while also casting a shadow over what each member of the group is capable of doing even if they aren’t the “wolf”. It’s towards the end, once Tonogai begins to move towards the big reveal, that the cracks become too hard to ignore within Doubt. Where the first volume sticks to a slasher formula pretty well and does a solid job at building up the mood and moving the plot along, volume two is full of revelations and so many implausible plot twists that it strains credulity to the breaking point. The last few pages manage to harken back to classic Horror 101 stuff, but unfortunately the preceding pages to get us there are a bit of mess that one can’t help but roll their eyes at it.

Tonogai approaches the gore and violence with a “less is more” approach that works pretty well here. When he attempts to depict action, or struggles between the cast, it’s clear that it’s not his strong point. The panel to panel flow falls apart, the movements become difficult to follow and come off looking awkward instead of thrilling or tense. The visuals are at their best when it’s focusing on the setting and creepiness of it, or when dealing with the revelations about the character’s past and speculation about who’s doing what. Scenes such as Yuu’s attempts to reach into a darkened room through the narrow opening of a stuck door are surprisingly tense. The big visual hook for the series comes via the game Rabbit Doubt. While it’s rarely shown or depicted, the rabbit motif makes a rather creepy but immediate impact in the form of mutilated rabbit masks, with their stitched and sewn up look which lends them a rather unnerving appearance. It’s a shame they don’t play a slightly larger role in things, mostly being present to simply obscure the killer’s true identity and to reinforce the connection to the online game. Still, it’s a nice little bit of visual flair to a series that’s otherwise depicted in a fairly contemporary world, it also echo’s slasher flicks and horror movies of the past and present, from Halloween to Saw, giving the murder a certain visual tag and motif.

Doubt starts off strong, with the first volume being a solid and surprisingly quick read. It’s in the second volume where things begin to fall apart. The twists and turns the story takes when it pulls back the curtain and reveals the killer’s identity simply don’t hold up. It relies a bit too heavily on misdirection and an element that’s so ridiculous and unbelievable that it simply doesn’t hold up. Getting to that point, though, was pretty damn fun.

Doubt, Vols. 1 + 2 are available now from Yen Press.

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  1. November 3, 2014 at 12:09 am

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