July 6, 2009

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Mail Volume 2

Written by Housui Yamazaki
Illustrated by Housui Yamazaki
Dark Horse

The horror manga from Dark Horse continues as Reiji Akiba introduces us to new stories of those who won't let go after their demise, usually for a very good reason.

In this volume, a man runs over a girl and thinks he can get away with it, but the spirit world has other plans, a former co-worker tries to wreak havoc with the wife he spurned her for, those afraid of elevators gets validation, children call for a lost classmate, and a picture tells a thousand deaths (okay, only one but I like the phrasing).

Each story is a set piece ala the Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with Akiba acting as the host of his own ghostly stories. To break things up a bit, he does not always appear at the beginning of the tale, but still finds a place to get his narrative in to the reader, whether in exposition or just a straight fourth wall page.

In addition to mixing up the introductions, Yamazaki also changes how the stories run. While in the first trade, all of the victims were sympathetic ones, this volume opens with a villain haunted by his own crime...which means Akiba may not be inclined to save him. In another story, our protagonist's client may not want saved at all. Plus, what happens if Akiba can't form a cohesive chant--and even if he does is it too late?

These are just some of the twists we encounter this time as Mail stetches into its second set of stories. Yamazaki not only knows how to tell a good story, he also knows how to mix it up so that they don't all follow the into-event-ghost-step in to kill ghost formula. We even see Akiba talk about failure (though I wish we'd see it) and show some of the other ways he can kill a ghost.

The artwork on Mail continues to be amazing. Yamazaki draws sharp, crisp lines that only use as much space as they need to in order for the reader to understand what's happening. When there are action lines, you know it's important. He's also not afraid to draw realistic horror--whether it's a person slitting their throat, a child with half a face, or bloody underwear.

It's a great combination for a great manga that I highly recommend! I hear that sadly, Volume 3 is the last volume. A pity, but at least I have one more to look forward to.