Volume one of Ryousuke Tomoe’s thriller-horror manga Museum started the series off strong with great artwork, killer tension, and a memorable antagonist. Does the second volume, published by Kodansha Comics, meet the high bar set by its predecessor?
While volume one took a chapter or two to get going, volume two is good from the start. With that said, it still warms up over the first few chapters–and it achieves greatness slightly before the halfway point. There is much less time spent on Sawamura’s interactions with other police officers and supporting cast, as he himself ditches the police in order to hunt down the killer on his own. This trimming of narrative focus feels slightly disappointing at first, but once Sawamura reaches the killer’s home their tense intellectual battle is more than enough to carry the book. All the close focus on Sawamura also accomplishes something that the first volume did not–it provides a deep emotional analysis of the character and his past. I came to care about him much more here than I did in volume one.
Artistically, Tomoe continues to shine. Their visual storytelling here is even more impressive than it was in volume one. Every panel serves a purpose, and each slight change in motion or expression is significant. There are many pages that express the majority of their content without words, allowing close-ups on facial expressions and inanimate objects to do the talking. The most amazing page in the volume is probably one in which Sawamura stares at a beverage in the killer’s house, and his eyes hone in on the steam coming off of the top. The drink is still hot–and the killer is close by.
Museum Vol. 2 contains a number of narrative and content choices that I wasn’t initially sure about, but I rolled with them and was rewarded with stellar results. The end of the volume contains a short piece by Tomoe entitled “Girl and Killer”, and its events are unrelated to those of the core series. The piece could have easily ended up feeling like an irrelevent add-on, but its quality is just too high for me to complain about its inclusion. “Girl and Killer” matches the rest of the volume fairly well in terms of tone, and it’s cool to see Tomoe apply his fantastic visual storytelling skills to a different, but equally (if not more) eerie premise.
While Museum Vol. 1 started out okay but quickly achieved greatness, Vol. 2 starts out good and reaches greatness about a third of the way in. The end result is a volume that’s essentially equal to its predecessor in terms of quality level. Given the fact that I gave the first volume an 8.5/10, that’s not a bad level to be at. Museum Vol. 2 moves the plot in unexpected but striking directions, makes Sawamura a more endearing protagonist, and stuns with near-perfect visual storytelling. This series continues to be a must-read.