Oct. 10th, 2009

reileen: (anime - Neuro)
Nightmare Inspector must be one of very few stories out there that has a rather literal "it was all a dream!" ending that makes total, logical sense.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though. The story does revolve around the existence of a Japanese mythological creature known as a baku, who eats nightmares. Baku are typically depicted as looking like tapirs (and in fact modern Japanese uses the same word to refer to both things), but in Nightmare Inspector the main baku is a pretty shota named Hiruko, whose sad, violent past prior to becoming a baku is integral to the climax of the entire 9-volume series.

The pacing and story of Nightmare Inspector follows a similar pattern to Hell Girl: episodic mini-plots of Hiruko helping customers with their nightmares interspersed with plot-related happenings and disturbing revelations about the mysterious, supernatural characters that populate the world, most notably the titular character. Despite his cold, apathetic demeanor, Hiruko actually does care enough about his customers to help them deal with their nightmares, walking them through their life and fears that manifest themselves in their nightmares before actually eating the nightmare itself. (Which would make him, like, the best therapist ever. Seriously, helping patients understand their traumas before nomming down on the traumas and thus relieving them of it? If it weren't for Hiruko's wyrd personality - or, hell, the fact that [SPOILER REDACTED] - he could make a killing in the profession.) Not all baku are as benevolent as Hiruko, however, as readers come to see. Corrupted by the single, driving desire to eat nothing but nightmares, some baku are obsessed with creating the Worst Nightmares Ever, for the worse the nightmare, the tastier it is to the baku. This aspect, too, is essential to understanding the weaving of plot threads that lead up to the climax.

So what is the climax? Well, I sort of spoiled it for y'all at the beginning of this entry, but it's another thing entirely (of course) to read the conclusion for yourself. If you can borrow this series from somewhere or someone (Melissa dumped it on me, haha), then by all means check it out. It's got beautiful art; a somewhat repetitive storyline that gets substantially more interesting and melancholy at some point after volume 6; amusing characters that, unfortunately, also sometimes feel a bit shallow and hard to "get"; and an interesting take on the baku mythos that explains enough for readers to understand the story but still leaves room for questions and other possibilities.

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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