There are several characters of note in this volume, the two main leads, and two support characters.
Kaname Otonashi is an interesting lead character, with a good strong personality and well developed character design. These are backed up by his special ability, which adds an element of mystery to his character.
The way that he is portrayed in this volume works really well, and is best described by Hide the other lead. He's physically weak but mentally strong. This is proven several times during the volume. I will admit I'm not overly happy on his character design, he has a weird feel to him that rubs me the wrong way. Though it does grow on me over the course of the volume.
Yasuhide on the other hand really got me with his character design. As the volume plays out I couldn't help but root for him. His personality isn't as strong or complete as Otonashi's is, but I think that's a good thing since it gives him room to change and grow. His character design really worked for me though, he has an ex-police feel that helps him to pull off his role. Out of the two leads he's by far the one that grew the most in this volume.
Superintendent Nagatsuma is Yasuhide's brother. Again I liked his personality and design, he has a strong and forceful personality that comes across well. I loved the way he acts to his superiors and family, the way he genuinely wants to change things comes through perfectly. His character design is also like Hide's, a perfect cops design. Everything about him from the way he stands and talks, to his clothes screams cop.
Superintendent Tadashiki is the other supporting character, but I don't really like her much. Personality wise she's okay, not perfect by any means, but decent. I liked the lofty, high and mighty attitude she has, as well as the way she talks down to Nagatsuma. The rivalry they have leads to some interesting personality developments. It's her character design I don't really like. For some reason when ever we get a strong female character like this she's drawn like nun. I'd love to see a strong female character who has a nice design to her as well. However she does fill the cop role well.
The art of the volume was really well done. A lot of detail in the various settings made them look complete and realistic. Yet in some places it was the very lack of detail that added to the atmosphere making for a tense feel which perfectly fits the story.
Most of the characters were well drawn as well, though as I said I wasn't keen on Otonashi. I felt that while he was supposed to be a physically weak his design over did it. A few of the other minor characters also had a bit of an off feel to them that I didn't really like. However these were all minor issues, and really a matter of taste. To many pretty boys spoil the book for me :D
The story is really interesting however, and more than capable of carrying the series past my issues. It's intriguing and keeps the reader wondering, which is essential to being a good story. What I was really impressed with though is that while we get a lot of story, very little is really revealed, just hints. Otonashi's ability should have been the focus of the story, but for some reason it wasn't this time. Rather he was used as a catalyst for the later story and his ability was more of an after thought. This means that we had a volume that set up both lead characters, and the two supporting characters, with good stories. It showcased their personalities and their limits, yet at the same time didn't reveal to much of the deeper underlying story. Hopefully this means that from volume two things will get knocked up a pace and we'll start to get into Otonashi's history and learn more of his ability.
Doki Doki did an excellent job on this release. Unlike the other eManga titles I've looked at this one doesn't have any major issues with the fonts and editing. Rather the opposite. Reading through I had no problems following the text, which was sharp and bold and easy to read. Even the thought and out of bubble text was easy to follow. The sole exception were the notes in the margins, given that these were rather in-depth notes these would have been better after the volume as a glossary of terms. But they don't hinder the volume, and understanding what they mean doesn't really matter much to the story, so it's easy to just ignore them.
A good read that was able to get past it's issues and keep me interested enough to finish the volume. I was also interested enough to order the volume. Sadly volume two isn't listed anywhere, including the Doki Doki Books website. So I'm guessing this is an ongoing series in Japan and volume two either haven't been released there, or that they haven't licensed it yet.
Imagine that you have truly excellent hearing. You can hear all sorts of background noises and can identify them. The sound of different engines, even in the distance. The electronic hum of computers in the background. The soft sound of keyboards. The voices of the dead. Yes, the voices of the dead. Whether on a recording or trapped within a photograph or at a place where someone has died suddenly and violently, you hear them. Voices, everywhere. The noise would be deafening, right? Meet Kaname Otonashi . He has this ability, and once worked for the Sound Engineering Investigation department at police headquarters as an expert acoustical analysis specialist.
These days he works freelance, and spends his sleeping hours locked into a soundproof booth he has had built for his work. With the deafening whispers and roars of the world kept at bay, he hopes he has found a sort of haven. This illusion does not last long though as faces from his past loom before him, pulling him once more into the world filled with sound. Whether it is the police needing assistance catching a killer leaving dead young women all over the city or a recently released from prison photography nut, one thing is clear. The dead are speaking and the influence that has on his life is far from over. In fact, it could be deadly.
Youka Nitta takes a step away from her usual fare of Boy's Love and offers up a chilling thriller with supernatural overtones. The concept is is intriguing, catching the imagination of the reader from the very first page. Using a known forensic technique, sound engineering, and adding a spin on the "distortion" sounds usually filtered out adds a touch of realism that allows one to readily suspend disbelief and fall headlong into the mystery. Who is the mysterious former convict photographer, and why is he photographing the dead before even the police know they are there? What is his connection to Kaname? And just what happened to Kaname on his last official case with the police force that led to him leaving the force along with Inspector Yasuhide Nagatsuma, the younger brother of the current Superintendent?
The art retains her signature style, with the attention to realistic detail. The clothes, as ever, are stylish and filled with a diversity that matches the personality of the wearer. The faces and hairstyles of the men bear the unmistakable stamp that proclaims this to be Nitta's work, with their lanky but well defined frames, lean jaws, high cheekbones, and beautifully tilted eyes under graceful arched brows. Fans of her earlier published works, such as Embracing Love (Haru wo Daite Ita), The Prime Minister's Secret Diplomacy, etc., will no doubt see marked similarity to the facial features of some her more iconic characters. While this is a supernatural suspense title listed as a shojo title, so far the only sexual tension seems to be an unresolved and unnoticed vibe going on between two of the two male leads. Whether or not a female romance lead will make an appearance or not remains to be seen in later volumes, but as it is, the unrealised tension between the pair helps ratchet up the emotional turmoil, tensing the atmosphere even further as the supernatural literally screams its way into the world of the living.
***I would like to thank Digital Manga Publishing for providing me with a review copy***