October 27, 2010
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.