The nature of the Baku and Hiruko's tragic past are explored.
Writer/Artist: Shin Mashiba
Translation: Gemma Collinge
Adaptation: Kristine Blachere
What They Say
For those who suffer nightmares, help awaits at the Silver Star Tea House, where patrons can order much more than just Darjeeling. Hiruko is a special kind of private investigator. He's a dream eater. And he'll rid you of your darkest visions - for a price.
RecollectionDreams on the menu in this volume: a woman tied to a burden she can't escape and another being watched from afar, a fantastic ordeal for Hiruko's briefcase, a girl who no longer feels like herself, a rival Baku who makes nightmares worse, the truth of Hiruko's past, Mizuki's childhood memories, and Hifumi's terrible blunder.
The nightmares for Hiruko's consumption never seem to have happy resolutions. The sufferer may be relieved of the initial night terrors, but it's always at the cost of bringing forth some unforeseen horror. Volume six doesn't deviate from this pattern. In fact, the tragedies seem to have multiplied.
An increase in intensely frightening nightmares that require the Baku's intervention is puzzling to the three inhabitants of the Silver Star Tea House. However, a mysterious figure from Hiruko's past not only provides the possible reason, but challenges Hiruko in a manner that not only affects Hiroku's existence, but Mizuki's as well.
This volume elaborates on the nature of the Baku and on the relationship between Hiruko and a former Baku, Mizuki's brother, Azusa. In a very few but well chosen panels, Shin Mashiba provides a glimpse into the very wretched past that created the conditions for Hiruko's assumption of his current role. The passions and desires of the Baku that bind Asuza and Hiruko make for some complex interplay, and the implications mean a distressing outcome for someone. The concepts are sophisticated and Mashiba delivers a fascinating story arc to complement the shorter nightmare tales.
The small moments of humor that occurred within the chapters of previous volumes really have no place at this point in the story, but Mashiba must have had an inking as to how unrelieved tragedy might play out, so he has included some light and silly chapters as a break. This type of diversion often undermines the main story, but these chapters aren't so intrusive that the reader is completely derailed from the seriousness of the tale at this point; they actually are welcome rests from the sadness.
The art is still as beautiful as in the first volume. The art nouveau/art deco sensibilities that form the environment of Mashiba's Taisho era Japan are still present, and the surface decoration that enriches the panels makes greater impact now that the number of small panels has been reduced. The print quality is quite good for such a visually rich work.
Those waiting for more "character development" in this series will find it here in abundance as the series moves from emphasis on the shorter, episodic stories to exploring the nature of the Baku.
Beautiful art in service to tales of human frailty, fate, and the mysterious sense of justice of the Baku, Hiruko. Highly recommended.