There’s a “genre” that’s come to my attention recently, and it’s been growing on me. Ever read xxxholic or Tarot Cafe? They’re supernatural, episodic manga with twist endings and pretty imagery. While some of the stories can be hit or miss, they’re able to tackle a wide variety of themes while also creating compelling mysteries surrounding the main characters, all with gorgeous artwork. Phantom Tales Of The Night follows these conventions, recognizing why they are successful but never achieving the same success itself.
The stories mainly involve the Owner of the Murakumo Inn, a hotel that only appears during bizzare events or moments that reveal their secret. You don’t have to pay; you only need to tell the Owner your deepest, darkest secret. It’s a cool concept that I wish was capitalized on more. The secrets in this volume are pretty basic: someone wants to be seen for who they are, a monster’s name, other shallow secrets along those lines. Not that I expected something crazy twisted, but I would have liked it if the secrets had more bite to give the characters more depth. Good thing the art does most of the heavy lifting.
The artwork is defined by its wispy lines and conventional character designs. Everything has a curve to it as if to imitate the movement of clouds and water. There are some really good spread illustrations that could be passed for a classical painting. The characters look alright, but nothing out of the ordinary (for fantasy manga, anyway). The supporting cast do have cool gimmicks however: Spider, the Owner’s bodyguard of sorts, has claws coming out of his back, and bartender Butterfly is made out of – wait for it –- butterflies. Okay, not the most inventive designs, but they are grounded in Japanese folklore, giving the characters interesting context. The Owner is basic, until the gloves come off in the final chapter.
The final chapter is definitely the best part of the book. Stringing together threads set up in previous chapters, it shows their are some people not willing to put up with the Owner’s monkey's-paw-esque shenanigans. The artist gets to go crazy here, making for some spooky images that give you goosebumps (in a good way). More importantly it creates a mission statement of sorts for the series going forward. Is it enough for me to pick up the next volume? Maybe. I do like the concept, but its execution is “alright” instead of “very well” or “great.” I might pick up the second volume, but it will have to improve much more for me to pick up a potential volume 3.
Welcome to the Murakumo Inn, a curious establishment that opens its doors to the troubled masses, human or otherwise. But to pay for the stay, the equally curious innkeeper takes payment only in the form of one's deepest secrets...Who will come calling today?Add to CartLearn More