Oldboy — The Manga Series

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I just completed Oldboy (Vol. 1), the first in a series from Dark Horse Manga (the original Japanese was published by Futabasha in 1997).  The story is by Garon Tsuchiya and the artwork by Nobuaki Minegishi.

This was a good manga, well-drawn and well-told.  A good sense of mystery is kept up throughout the first book.  I’ll probably read more.

In the story, a man has been locked away ten years in a room at a secret location in the city.  His kidnapping and imprisonment came without warning.  He has no idea who imprisoned him or why.  A decade later, his release comes just as unexpectedly as his capture.  Again, no explanations are given.

In this first volume, the man does not speak explicitly very much about revenge, but he is consumed with the need to discover “who the hell did this to me and why.”  However, he has been keeping himself in fighting trim during his lost decade, and I get the impression revenge will be wreaked.

Even we the reader do not why the man was locked away, and that is really the suspense that drives the story– and the main reason I’ll probably read a little further into the series.  There are a few hints that someone was trying to change the man’s personality via prolonged solitary confinement.  “Was their goal to turn me into a different person consumed by negative passions?” ponders the man upon release.  Typically, when a comic book has a character ask, “Was their goal to create a new person?” what the scene is really saying is, “Their goal was to create a new person.”  Long on subtlety, comic books ain’t.  Later in the story, some mysterious bad guy does indeed sound like he had hoped to break the guy’s groovy “aura” by the imprisonment.

The man’s love interest in the story is boring.  She’s sweet and virginal —she even calls the man “mister.”  But she doesn’t add much to the story, at least so far.

The black and white artwork in the manga is completely adequate and professional.   I commend the artist for not making the scenes too “busy.”  The style is simple without being childish.  Here, the shadow-work (basically painting with shades of gray) lends a hand too, as the use of contrasting shades help clarify scenes that might tip toward the over-crowded or ornately detailed.

 

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