In the blazing heat of summer, a group of teenagers band together after realizing they each have special powers. Calling themselves the Mekakushi-dan, this is the story of a series of events that befall them on two August days.
After spending two years as a shut in, Shintaro Kisaragi is forced to finally leave his house to buy new computer parts after his computer crashes. Setting off with his virtual companion Ene, Shintaro heads to the nearest department but is quickly caught up in a hostage situation, setting off a series of events which cause him to come into contact with the Mekakushi-dan.
Kagerou Daze Vol. 1 will be of interest to those looking for a mystery story with thrills and action.
- The initial premise of the story was engaging, providing some interesting mysteries about the nature of Ene as well as the impact of technology that will hopefully be explored further. In addition, Shintaro and Ene’s interactions were a highlight of this volume as their playful banter was funny and entertaining to read, setting up their relationship well. The volume also ends on a satisfying note as well, bringing the events presented together in an effective and interesting manner. The story shows clear signs of being set up with a longer plan in mind, and the end of the volume left me eager to have some of the questions raised so far answered.
- Artist Mahiro Satou’s artwork was pleasant to look at, and really stood out during actions scenes such as the hostage situation early on in the volume. Larger key panels were drawn well and conveyed a great sense of detail and motion when required, with the spread above being one of my favourites from the volume for those reasons.. In addition, characters such as Ene and Shintaro’s sister Momo (see in the image below) were vividly drawn, taking especially good advantage of the already memorable character designs.
- While the plot has a promising start, it feels like this volume missed the mark in terms of execution. Readers do not get to see the resolution to one of the key action scenes the story had built towards, robbing the story of some of its forward momentum and feeling like a bit of a cop-out on the part of the author. I was left wondering why I should be caring about the Mekakushi-dan until the very end of the volume when the answers are partially doled out.
- The disconnectedness in the plot is compounded by a shift in main characters halfway through the volume, making the volume feel disjointed. While it becomes clear at the end of the volume why the author did this, the second half of the volume was bogged down by exposition. This significantly hurts the pacing of the volume because while these scenes were clearly meant to set up the plot, they could likely have been covered in around half that space.
- While largely likeable, the characters introduced in this volume were nothing to write home about either as they are not given any depth, each feeling thinly-written with one or two identifiable traits. Present and accounted for are the genki girl, the shy and socially anxious girl, the laid-back guy, and the reserved girl, causing the characters to feel like a collection of attributes rather than a fully formed cast. This was especially a problem with Shintaro as readers aren’t given a hint toward his motivations or why he is a shut-in, but I didn’t feel like this volume did enough to provide a reason to identify with any of the surrounding cast either. The only character who got explored with any depth was Momo when her desire to have a “normal” life after being a pop idol was explored. However, her motivations are also extremely simplistic and the final reveal of the root of her problems came across as especially silly.
Kagerou Daze Vol. 1 is a thoroughly average beginning that is held back by thin-characters and poor pacing choices which affect the presentation of the main narrative. While this review might seem critical, I still came away wanting to read more of the series thanks to Shintaro and Ene’s entertaining banter as well as a good ending which reignited my interest in the story. The series has some good potential if it explores to a greater degree the motivations of the Mekakushi-dan and takes a more in-depth look more of the characters. If the plot points presented in this volume are pay off effectively, Kagerou Daze has the potential to become an entertaining thriller series.
Kagerou Daze Vol. 1 was published by Yen Press on April 21st, 2015. Drawn by Mahiro Satou and based on the original story created by Jin (Shizen No Teri-P), the series is currently ongoing in Media Blasters’ Monthly Comic Gene. Volume 2 will be published in English on July 21, 2015.
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*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
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