Who doesn’t love a good mystery story?
The ones full of gruesome death, ruthless killers, twisted motivations. A web of lies, waiting to be untangled, surrounded by faceless people who can’t be trusted; Yuureitou is a story that starts off like this, but quickly becomes something…a lot more.
1. Story: (7.9/10)–Good
On a cold night in 1952, at an unnamed, unknown clock tower, a woman is killed in a brilliant, sadistic manner. Tied to the hands of the clock by her own adopted daughter, she is left there, until inevitably, her spine breaks, leaving her a disfigured, macabre corpse.
Two years later, another murder happens, much the same way. An old friend of our protagonist, Taichi Amano, ends up interested in the secrets of the tower–now labelled the Ghost Tower–as well, and pays the ultimate price–this time, a the hands of a mysterious killer, known only as Shibanmushi.
Only questions remain: Who is Shibanmushi? What is special about the Ghost Tower? And what does the story of Fujimiya Tatsu and Rika have to do with it all?
It’s perfect mystery story material. The premise sparks intrigue, leaves room for its characters to fill in the gaps, and has a whole world of potential.
That being said, while Yuureitou is able to present a solid mystery plot, the focus of the story per se is certainly NOT the mystery.
Yuureitou, I have to say, is one of the more complex manga I’ve experienced recently. It presents all the standard elements of a mystery story, while simultaneously developing its characters–so that, by the end of the manga, you realize the mystery has been solved, but the story has not yet reached its thematic conclusion.
It’s a strange disconnect–but one that allows for a LOT of interesting moments in the plot, and for seemingly irrelevant situations to have a lot of relevance in hindsight. Looking back on the whole of the story, it was marvelously crafted. The story knew where it was going, and remained thematically strong from beginning to end.
However, this gets me to my biggest complaint: that the story, as good as it ended up being, seems rather cluttered in the beginning.
There’s a LOT going on. Action, gore, mystery solving, and it ties together wonderfully towards the end, as any good mystery ought to. However, towards the beginning, I found that personally, I was struggling to keep up interest, in situations that felt irrelevant.
Yuureitou didn’t keep the intrigue up constantly–rather, it feels as though many plot points are being set up in advance, a foundation, for the greatness that is the last half of the story. It’s alright, but it required some commitment on my part to really get through, especially for the first quarter.
As a mystery story, in this way, Yuureitou was not the best experience in the world. But luckily, it was a lot more than just a mystery story. As the plot progresses, revelations are made, the stakes are raised high, and the story just gets better and better, until by the end, I’m left in awe of how thematically strong the story has become.
And that’s not even mentioning the characters, who, by the end of it all, are unarguably the best part of the manga.
2. Characters: (8.6/10)–Great
As the story begins, we are presented with a set of characters that, for the most part, seemed like standard mystery manga fare. We got Taichi Amano, a selfish loser protagonist who we expect to grow by the end, Tetsuo Sawamura, a mysterious man with an interest in the Ghost Tower, and Marube, a manipulative prosecutor who, as it so happens, also happens to be interested in the Ghost Tower.
These characters, starting off, are simply…interesting. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but they have enough quirks to be considered little mysteries of their own. Tetsuo, as badass and light-footed as he is, clearly hides his past, Taichi, as lazy and unconfident as he is, strives to do more with his life, and at first, these traits remain unaddressed, as they move forward to confront the mysteries of the Ghost Tower.
However, as the mysteries grow more convoluted, these hidden traits come to the surface. And it leads to some of the most thematically pleasing, enjoyable character development I’ve experienced in a long time.
Taichi in particular, earns my praise as a loser protagonist who legitimately grows to become a freaking man by the end of the story. Most of the ones I know, the ones that feel genuinely pathetic, remain pathetic. Yuki of Mirai Nikki, Nejima of Koi to Uso, these guys are dislikable the entire way through, but Taichi…
He makes some tough decisions, comes to tough personal realizations, and does what he has to do, regardless of how tough it is. He grows a lot, and it is a JOY to see unfold.
And here, I must mention something about the series, where the characters of Yuureitou may, or may not be engaging to you.
In regards to their growth as characters, the manner in which we learn about them, I have nothing to complain about. From a narrative standpoint, their growth happens naturally, logically, and works well in the context of the story.
However, there is a topic that can be rather divisive, that Yuureitou confronts head-on, primarily through its charcters; the topic of sexual identity and gender.
With a topic such as sexual identity, Yuureitou requires a rather open mind, as the characters of the manga present the topic in a way that I have personally never seen before–and really, that just adds to my appreciation of the series. It might not be your cup of tea, to deal with such a topic in such a way, but, regardless, it’s there, intrinsically linked to the characters, inseparable.
I personally find it fascinating, innovative in the world of character design, even. But hey, that’s just me.
3. Art/Style: (7.0/10)–Good
Here, I have to say that in regards to judging the style of manga, I feel rather shaky.
It’s not that I lack an opinion on it–rather, I’m simply not sure if the opinion is a justified one. My opinion is based more on a feeling here, than concrete example, and so, you may disagree with me here.
Simply put, Yuuretiou has a few pages that look FANTASTIC, but based purely on where the panels are placed, many pages simply feel…cluttered.
Not that all manga have to be an easy read–it’s certainly a style that you can learn to get through. However, the problem here, is that it makes an already complex story hard to keep up with, at least from my experience.
With so much information jam-packed into each page, it can be hard sometimes to notice small story details that really matter later.
However, this is just personal opinion, and one that I don’t want to rely on too heavily. To contrast this, thought, Yuureitou has many, many distinctive shots that look wonderful, especially in regards to actions regarding characters, in specific moments.
Overall, I can imagine many, many people enjoying Yuureitou’s style, as it has some truly wonderful, detailed art in places. It has undeniable quality, but honestly, it didn’t quite work for me.
4. Personal Enjoyment: (8.0/10)–Great
Final Score: (7.75/10)–Good
- You have a predilection for mystery stories.
- Issues regarding gender are of interest to you.
- You are able to