Review by Ian Keogh
The astonishing plot set up in Old Boy‘s opening volume was so compelling that surely no-one who read it gave up the series. A man now calling himself Yamashita was abducted and spent ten years imprisoned in a small apartment before being just as abruptly released. He claims to have no idea why this occurred or who was responsible. The sole clue he has regarding the entire experience is that one day a fragment of a receipt was mixed with the food he was fed daily from a Chinese restaurant. He was imprisoned somewhere within the vicinity of a place known as the Blue Dragon, and there are only eight restaurants with that name in Tokyo.
Garon Tsuchiya’s opening chapter toys with the readership, but Yamashita’s investigation delivers some answers in the early stages, and from there it’s a matter of following the trail. There’s an interesting decision around the midway point when a pistol falls into Yamashita’s hands and he decides not to use it on the basis that it might limit the way he acts. It’s a fine personality insight.
The artwork by Nobuaki Minegishi continues to be superb. The detail he puts into very ordinary scenes helps convince with regard to Yamashita’s wider world. The sample page exemplifies that work ethic. What needs to be shown is Yamashita returning to the hostel where he shares lodgings, ensuring it’s not being watched and retrieving an object left in the care of a colleague. This could be conveyed with relative simplicity, yet Minegishi’s cinematic cuts provide a varied route, and the convincing detail extends to objects scattered about the floor, indicating the accommodation and those using it.
By the end of this volume Yamashita’s previous life begins to have some consequence, yet Tsuchiya has moved the plot forward considerably without providing a single answer to any of the questions propelling it, and he’s dragging us along masterfully. Time for volume 3, then.