Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory

By Sakae Esuno
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline:  Is eating fish with human faces cannibalism?

Aso Daisuke is a former police investigator that  is now a private detective with an unusual focus, dealing with allegories that are more popularly know as urban legends.  For instance, when Kanae Hiranuma hears the urban legend of the axe murderer who lurks under the bed, the story has such an effect on her that it literally becomes real to her, a situation that Aso rescues her from.  Unfortunately she cannot pay her bill and decides to work with him and his even stranger partner Hanako to pay it off.  The cases soon become even stranger and more bizarre, moving from the gotcha factor of the axe murderer to a full-blown psycho-sexual laden tale involving human faced fish.  The manga is given more meaning by the fact that Aso is suffering from allegories himself, making him both less and more than just human.

At first it seem like this will be another creepy-crawly filled horror manga, but it is during the human faced fish story in the last half of the volume that it becomes clear that this is something more else.  The horrors the characters face become less important than then the ones that live in the characters' minds and drive them.  The story could use better explanations of the urban folklores used in the background, for while the allegories that drive the story are well explained, the ones that drive the characters seem less so, especially the one that Hanako is part of.  For an explanation of it, click out this link.  Much like the creator's other work, Future Diary (see the Prospero's Manga review here) this appears at first like many other stories but soon shows that the idea behind it can be much deeper than what the source material may originally suggest.

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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