Amnesia Labyrinth Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Matthew Warner
Review Date: Friday, March 25, 2011
Release Date: Monday, February 28, 2011

Almost as perplexing as having amnesia in a labyrinth.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Nagaru Tanigawa and Natsumi Kohane

What They Say
When high school student Souji Kushiki, an academic achiever and talented athlete from a well-to-do family, returns home from boarding school, he finds that his sisters Harumi, Youko, and Saki have changed. Their strangely clingy behavior borders on the inappropriate and bizarre, yet Souji just brushes off their odd behavior - at first.

When Souji arrives at school the next day, he learns that, during the summer, one of the students in his class was pushed to his death in front of a subway train. And what's more, two other students were stabbed by an unknown culprit. Are the victims linked, and could Souji's sisters have anything to do with the murders?

The Review!
Technical:

The cover looks great here, portraying our leads during an everyday interaction, with Yukako displaying her energy as Souji looks on apathetically. The back cover displays images of Souji and Youko on opposite sides, with a summary taking up the space between them. The paper used feels a tad thin, and a handful of profiles are included as extras. Text reads smoothly, honorifics are maintained, sound effects are sometimes translated in stylized text and at other times left in their original form and translated, and a handful of translation notes are included.

The artwork provided looks fantastic, and is definitely one of the book’s main draws. Character designs look solid and display emotion well (though there is one instance in which a character strips that looks a little off, for whatever reason). However, the real star is the backgrounds and environments throughout, which appear often and have something of a stylized, sketchy feel to them, and are usually quite complex.

Content:
A young student stands on a train platform, when he feels a shove, landing in front of the oncoming train as a face disappears, obscured in the darkness. This is how our story begins. From there, we are introduced to a young man by the name of Souji, who is now returning to his family’s home, having previously ran away. We are then introduced to his bumbling sister Harumi, who cares about him greatly and is his step-mother’s child from a previous marriage, as well as his eerie, mischievous sister Youko, and Saki, his sister who for some reason acts as a family maid.

Upon arriving at school, Souji meets a girl by the name of Yukako. As it turns out, she knows a good bit about him, as she was previously in the same school as him, and is also the sole member of the school’s intelligence committee, making her rather well informed. However, it turns out that Yukako is actually seeking Souji’s help. Murders have been sweeping the town, with three students from the school already dead, including an upperclassman that Yukako greatly admired. Through some forceful persuasion, Souji agrees to at least look over the data that Yukako has collected.

Over the rest of the volume, things become more and more complex and confusing, with Souji’s sisters making sexual advances on him, Youko appearing to have some sort of split personality, or perhaps even a double of some sorts, and all around strangeness relating to Souji’s household. As the volume comes to a close, Souji’s sisters take him to pay respects were the students were murdered, but they mysteriously make a fourth stop, and Souji demands to meet with his older brother, who for some reason looks near identical to him.

In Summary:
From beginning to end, this book is filled to the brim with strange happenings and mysteries. Unfortunately, this first volume also comes with a disappointingly low amount of information, leaving things in an incredibly confusing state. Though it’s clear that strange happenings abound within Souji’s household, the very nature of these occurrences and habits is left a complete enigma. Hopefully the next volume manages to tie things together, as the dark atmosphere and events presented here are certainly intriguing.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781934876930
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left