The Nightmare Inspector

November 29, 2011
By DownTheRabbitHole13 BRONZE, HARWOOD HTS, Illinois
DownTheRabbitHole13 BRONZE, HARWOOD HTS, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
The only substitute for good manners is fast reflexes...

You have probably had at least one bad dream in your life. Perhaps you were being chased, or something bad was happening. Nightmares are a normal part of growing up, but sometimes they may take a more sinister turn. Sometimes you can’t make them go away. Sometimes, you stop being in control of the nightmare. Sometimes the nightmare takes control of you. Enter Shin Mashiba’s manga series, Nightmare Inspector. It explores themes of human nature through a series of dreams and nightmares. Nightmare Inspector is a fast-paced book full of nightmares sure to please (or horrify), but it never really lives up to its full potential.

The Nightmare Inspector, Chitose Kurosu (generally known as Hiroku), is a young baku . Hiroku lives at the Silver Star Tea House, and will cure his clients’ nightmares for a price: their nightmare. He carries a cane with a crystal which he uses to put the dreamer to sleep and afterwards, hold their nightmare. Hiroku has a dark past (explained in the later volumes of the series) interconnected with the last baku, who had mysteriously disappeared several years ago without a trace before being replaced by Hiroku. Mashiba explains his past little by little, but it is overly convoluted and exaggerated (at one point, he is tortured with pincers, has all his limbs broken, and it is debated over whether or not to throw him in a septic tank) and eventually takes over the whole series. At the end of Nightmare Inspector, the reader is left not with a new and thoughtful perspective on the darker sides of human nature, but instead a massive amount of confusion from the disjointed fragments of various stories.

While his past is eventually explained (somewhat), Hiroku never really grows as a character. He has the personality of a piece of cardboard (incredibly stoic, never amused by anything, never does anything BUT eat nightmares) and we are never shown any development or change in personality. At the end of the book, our perception of Hiruko is essentially the same as when we began. With such a dull character, the rest of the series struggles to make a good impression.

In the first few volumes of Nightmare Inspector, nightmares are fresh and interesting, including that of a weather vane, a woman in a circular hallway tied to something in the distance, and quirky dreams such as a boy plagued by the dream of traditional koi fish kites flying up a stream. Each has its own innate symbolism, sometimes up to three and four different layers of meaning at Mashiba’s finest. Each nightmare has its own unique ‘twist in the tail’ more often than not sinister and completely unexpected, leaving a reader guessing as to what is the truth. Later on, though, the nightmares lose their appeal as Mashiba begins to stray into overused clichés and repeats elements of dreams. The reader is left with a sense of wanting something more substantial, and Nightmare Inspector never really delivers.

Read by itself, Nightmare Inspector shows some darker elements of life, and provides an interesting thrill. It is best read in one sitting for entertainment (during daylight), with only the first novels being read. Nightmare Inspector never fully realizes its potential, but it provides a good source for those scary stories told around a campfire at night.

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