One Missed Call 1+2 Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: C-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 14.95
  • Pages: 264
  • ISBN: 1-59307-747-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: One Missed Call 1+2

One Missed Call 1+2 Vol. #01

By Connie Zhang     June 11, 2007
Release Date: January 31, 2007

One Missed Call 1+2 Vol.#01
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mayumi Shihou
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo
Adapted by:Naomi Kokubo

What They Say
It's an epidemic of accidental death! Multiple college students receive odd voicemails from themselves, messages from the future, and all they contain are the screams of their own deaths. A few days later, at the date and time of the message's posting, they die in mysterious accidents, and oddly enough, each have a candy in their mouths.

The Review
One Missed Call is about as scary as missing a phone call.

The black cover is adorned with a staticky neon white logo that catches your eye almost immediately. The only other art is a marble-shaped red candy that leaves a bloody streak. It's creepy and has the makings of a horror movie poster. And it would've worked, too, if Dark Horse had just resisted a little blatant advertising ("The Japanese horror hit is coming to America!" and "Two books in one!"). Instead, they ruin the simplistic artistry of the cover and give the impression that this book's just a cheap grocery store paperback. The back cover is essentially the front cover with more text. The print reproduction is clean with very sharp lines and no noticeable distortions. This book is really two " One Missed Call and One Missed Call 2 " in one and has no extras.

Shihou relies heavily on shading in accentuating the darkness of the content. While there's never any question that she sets the right mood and her character designs are pleasant, the reader soon discovers that female characters are indistinguishable. All her girls look identical and it takes some concentration to figure out who's just died. Another downside is the bare-bones look of everything. There are never any backgrounds and details in clothing or hair are mostly nonexistent. One bright spot in her art is the smooth, even flow of the panels. The pacing may be horridly rushed, but the art itself is expressive and action scenes are neatly rendered. Shihou draws her 'ghosts' well and it's their understated presentation (without gory appendages or other horror staples) that gives the reader an unsettling feeling of anticipation. While nothing in this book is truly terrifying, many things are run-of-the-mill creepy.

Shihou is obviously comfortable with her drawing style and her artwork is very consistent throughout. It almost plays it too safe and is absent of any qualities one may consider inspiring or unique.

The dialogue is mostly straightforward with no grammatical or spelling errors. It's true that all the characters sound the same, but then again, no one will be reading this for witty banter. Since just about everyone has an expiration date, no characters really have the time to develop a personality, much less personalized speech. For the limited purpose of setting up a mystery, the dialogue suits the story just fine. SFX are translated and are subtitled neatly beside each sound effect.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Remakes of Japanese horror movies (The Ring, The Grudge) scared us back into theatres a few years back and are now something of a staple (especially ones starring Sarah Michelle Gellar). One Missed Call is more of the same except it's presented here on paper and must come up with ingenious ways with which to shock and terrify us. It has the right (if not cliché) idea " persecuted college girl, her friends dropping like flies, manly detective-type hot on the trail and vengeful spirit pulling the strings " but fails miserably in the execution. Too many side stories are crammed into too few pages and there simply isn't enough time spent with the main characters to really care that they may be offed at any moment.

On the surface, Yumi Nakamura is your typical college student. She studies, parties and goes on dates. She may be deathly afraid of peering into holes and seems to have a troubled past, but that doesn't mean she's any different from other girls. But when a friend receives a call from herself in the future, leaving only a bloodcurdling scream in a voicemail, Yumi can't shake the feeling that it's more than a prank. And when that friend dies shortly thereafter in the exact manner depicted in the voicemail, she's positive that it's no accident. As one after another of her friends begin dying in the same mysterious circumstances, always receiving a death call before their lives abruptly end, Yumi slowly realizes that she's next on the caller's list.

Enlisting the help of Hiroshi Yamashita, a funeral-director-turned-detective who's investigating his own sister's suspicious death, Yumi jumps through several plotholes in order to discover the identity of the murderer. Insert a couple of requisite plot twists and the first story wraps up with a spine-tinkling ending. The second story picks up a year later with an entirely new cast. There are so many new characters that it just leads to more confusion when names in the first story are rattled off haphazardly. One Missed Call 2 opens with a Taiwanese chef answering his daughter's phone only discover that it's his own daughter calling...from the future and leaving an agonizing scream in a message. Moments later, he dies horrifically and the vicious cycle of death and death calls begins anew.

New main character Takako Nozoe is a journalist with a tragic past and extreme survivor's guilt. She has a personal vendetta against the murderous spirit and is intent on stopping it once and for all. Charging herself with the protection of the next victim of the death calls, Takako embarks on a journey that will lead her to the source of the spirit's vengeance. As the people around her are murdered left and right, Takako desperately seeks an end to the bloodshed with her own life at stake. What she discovers is that the ruthless ghost who went on a rampage a year ago is not the same one who is killing now. Could it be that the most recent murders were committed by the true vengeful spirit, the original who spawned the others?

The sheer number of characters is only one of the reasons why this story is hard to follow. We're introduced to a slew of people in rapid succession and then dragged forcibly from page to page as revelations are piled one on top of another, all the while countless deaths are flung at us. The two main characters " Yumi and Takako " are diametrically opposed with one being a frightened college student and the other an intense self-sufficient woman. Although, we soon discover that they may just have something in common after all. Anyone else is a throwaway who is little more than a cardboard cutout of a stereotype " the dutiful male protector, the weak, cowering female and the figure of tragedy.

The disgruntled spirit come back to take revenge is nothing new and even the 'phone angle' has already been done. What little is left is a taut cat-and-mouse game between murderous ghosts and hapless heroines. But even that is plagued by pacing issues and a difficulty in differentiating faces, as all the women look alike. While the first story provides the foundation, it's in the second story that we get any answers and the plot becomes somewhat easier to follow. Sadly, the second and last segment suffers even more from character overcrowding. It takes some re-reading to catch all the plot points and it's only then that the reader can start to appreciate the ghost's origins and its modus operandi.

One Missed Call tries to be terrifying, but largely fails due to a muddled storyline, unwieldy cast and frenzied pacing. This title can only be recommended to hardcore horror fans and just barely at that.


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