The Strange Tale of the Twilight DemonCreated by Midori HagiDMP/Emanga, 41ppRating: Young Adults (16 +)
The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon is a very short story from creator Midori Hagi, which follows a boy named Imaru as he investigates the disappearance of a classmate and its connections to a strange urban legend. It's my first exposure to the work of Midori Hagi and probably my last.
The story is short and straightforward. Every year a rumor surfaces at Imura's high school about a haunted water tower and cow demons that kidnap people. Things are a little different this year, a classmate goes missing. Imura and Kaname, a friend of the recently missing school girl, half heartedly investigate the mystery only for it to be solved out of the blue thanks to a vaguely alluded to power on Imura's part. The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon really feels like it was intended to be a pitch for a longer running series, and that it's main purpose was to introduce Imaru, Kaname and everything else to readers. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have worked out the way Hagi planned and so it stands alone as an awkward one off with flat characters and a bizarre final plot twist that was hinted at with a single line of dialogue that felt like an offhand remark more than anything else.
Visually, Midori Hagi's artwork is an absolute mess. The entire thing looks like a third or fourth generation photocopy, and the toning has a weird texture to it that's incredibly distracting. It looks like the paper was held against a painted wall in a house or apartment, and the artist took their pencil and lightly brushed it over the page, giving it the entire artwork a textured, dotted look that's hard to overlook. This texture infects nearly everything about the book, the toning looks sloppy as a result, and text itself is oddly jagged and distorted, though still readable. If that wasn't bad enough, the word bubbles are also bizarrely placed, making it an awkward read. Instead of flowing from the right to left like most voice bubbles go in manga, these read from the left to right, but the panels still read from the right to left! It's a bit of a mess and a weirdly, awkward read which makes the 40 page story feel like a bit of a slog. On several occasions there are pages with three of four panels crammed into a small area, but thanks to the weird word bubble/panel flow clash I found myself unsure of which panel to read.
Ultimately The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon was a disappointing, awkward and not particularly good read. The visuals are just ugly, the story isn't terribly interesting, and the wonky voice bubbles serve to make it a confusing and muddled read. DMP's put out its fair share of hits over the years, but this is quite possibly the most glaring example of a miss I've seen in a while.
The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon is available now from Emanga.com.