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Goth Volume 1

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To be a Goth is to be a member of a rich and substantial subculture that pulls on various influences from throughout history. A Goth cannot be categorised as someone who enjoys the dark side of life, someone who enjoys death or someone who is always miserable and depressed as they are merely a few areas of the wider subculture. As such, for this name to be used as a title of a novel, and subsequently a manga is ambitious.

Illustrated by Kenji Ooiwa from Otsuichi’s original Goth novel, the first thing that Itsuki Kamiyama noticed about Yoru Morino was her hands. The clear sign of scars across her wrists informed him immediately of what type of person she was, and her infinitely pale skin made them even more noticeable. Kamiyama wants those hands, but not the girl. This horrific thought is the start to a very strange friendship between the pair.

With a strong draw to one another, Kamiyama and Morino soon discover that they both have a fascination with death, torture and sick crimes; that make normal people turn away. These crimes touch the darkest parts of their souls and make them feel like they can truly experience life and live. Goth is made up of six stories, each one depicting a different type of death, and dealing with the fascination that the lead characters have with murder and suicide.

However, this fascination with death and suicide is never eluded to be wrong. Throughout the six stories the pair manage to find themselves dealing with people who all ultimately end up regretting their murders in some respect. The regret of being caught is naturally the first, and that is swiftly moved on from by the regret of killing a loved one and the regret and guilt of lying.

Throughout the manga, darkness is used as a theme to heighten the macabre feeling of the characters. Although there is some horrific violence in Goth, the violence is not overused at any point. In fact, the conservative use of illustrating the violent crimes heightens the sense of horror when the occasional images arise. The images themselves are normally against a black backdrop and have little shading, the type of murder is shown clearly and the wounds are detailed.

The two most haunting images are towards the beginning and the end of the novel respectively. The first is a woman, who has been entirely mutilated, with her head in another part of her anatomy, maimed breasts and eyes in her hands. Whilst the second is the other haunting image is that of asphyxiation by hanging, which is unusually against a clear backdrop.

At no point can this be defined as high art; however, the artwork is drawn to a strong standard and the artist knows when less is more. Unfortunately, the story itself is stripped bare from the original novel. Throughout the lead character Kamiyama seems to instinctively know who the murderers are, and where to go to catch them and to save Morino. Morino appears to always be at the centre of most murder and kidnap plots, and Kamiyama seems to have the best luck at catching criminals. As the storyline has been stripped back, sometimes the plot can feel a little contrived and convenient.

Final Score

8

Goth is a frighteningly horrific owing to its almost real life events. Although it has been stripped down a lot from the original novel: “Goth A Novel of Horror” by Otsuichi, the manga manages to capture the essence of the book. At most points sympathy is felt towards the murderers, which in itself makes the manga more evil.