Reviewed by Giaco Furino
When it comes to manga I am very, very picky. I find most works to be a jumble of characters wielding strange weapons and making even stranger faces. I suppose I prefer my manga be based more in reality, along the lines of Battle Royale. But Viz Media?s new Nightmare Inspector changed something in me.
With the turning of the first page, the reader is transported, as if in a dream, to another time and another world. The book, written and drawn by Shin Mashiba, takes place during a time when Japan first began feeling the influence (both culturally and architecturally) of the west. The ancient buildings and backdrops are sprinkled with hints of Victorian culture, the perfect setting for this deep fantasy. The story follows Hiruko, a tall, gaunt character with a magical cane who runs a tea shop. Why should this interest you? Well, because he?s a Baku, a dream eater. The desperate come to him to help ease their nightmares, and he?s quite adept at it. He agrees to walk with them through their nightmare, if they let him eat their dreams. The formula is set from the first story (each story is a new customer, hoping to have his or her nightmare subdued), but the twists at the end of each tale keep the reader guessing and interested. Think you know how a dream is going to pan out? Doubtful. These twists would have even M. Night going , ?Whoa!?
There is a minor issue I have with the manga. I don?t see why anyone would choose not to have their dreams eaten by Hiruko. They all have terrible nightmares, and there isn?t any repercussion to having their dreams eaten, so there isn?t much dramatic tension.
Now, the fact that that is the only issue I have with this manga is saying a lot. Especially since I?m not a manga fanatic, and I especially don?t go for much fantasy manga. I usually need guns, violence, or at least a big sword (how manly of me, eh?), but a thin blonde boy with a magical cane was all it took to keep me interested in this piece. Nightmare Inspector exudes mood and ambiance; it skillfully recreates the essence and confusion of a dream, and will absolutely keep you guessing until the story?s end.
If you like manga, pick this one up. If you?re not a huge fan, read the first chapter (of seven in the first issue) from start to finish and see if you?d make an exception for this special piece of work.