The more I read suspensful, scary, mystery manga the more and more I realize how much I enjoy them. The latest is volume 1 of Hanako and the Terror of Allegory from Tokyopop. The title and cover art may not scream suspense but this title is as much fun as Future Diary or Case Closed.
Detective Aso Daisuke takes on all types of cases from missing pets to investigation cheating spouses. He also takes on special cases as Kanae Hiranuma discovers when a chat room points her in Aso’s direction. Seems Kanae has a bit of trouble at home with a man with an axe under her bed. This allegory, urban legend, has somehow attached itself to Kanae and as she returns home from her visit with Aso she’s attacked by this ‘myth’ only to be saved by Aso. He truly is a special detective, even if his office is lined wall to wall porn mags. From time to time Aso explains that allegories attach themselves to humans, come to life and can only be brought down by, well him. He has a few allegories of his own and with Kanae saved and now employed, must take on the cases of the Slit Mouthed Woman and the Human-Faced Fish. With every new case a new side of Aso is revealed and Kanae is along for more than just the ride.
My first gripe with Hanako is the title. Urban Myth, legends; these would have been better words to use over allegory, just not that familiar a word in manga. Second gripe is the cover art. Aso with Kanae at his side like a scared damsel, what is this title homage too? Why do I bring up these very minor items first? Because they could end up turning away readers from such a wonderful manga. The art style is not as polished as some of the more well known manga but it really lends itself well to the story. There is a nervous tension and horror revealed in each panel that begs the reader to turn the lights down and pull covers over their heads and enjoy as you’ve not done so since you were a kid. It’s the storytelling where each chapter is tied to an urban legend that makes this such a wonderful read. Everyone at some point in their life has heard one of these stories and while there are only three covered in this first volume there is so much more source material for Aso to tackle and seeing how these tales manifest and are taken on by Aso and company is the pure joy. My two minor gripes aside this is one series I plan to follow and if you’re a fan of suspenseful, horror manga then pass go and get volume 1 of Hanako now.