Dark Metro, vol. 1

Deep beneath the streets of Tokyo lays a place most people don’t even think twice about—the subway. But that seemingly innocent transportation network is also a place where life and death intersect. One man, Seiya, is the bridge between those two worlds, helping the restless dead and the innocent—and not so innocent—living navigate the dark tunnels together.

A collection of horror stories with a touch of heart, Dark Metro is an interesting, if slightly pedestrian, anthology. The strongest feature is that the stories do not all follow the same pattern. In some the living person is blameless, in some they are not, and in others they walk the line between. It is the same with the restless dead that the mysterious and handsome Seiya is charged with helping. His background is left almost completely unexplored, which is fine for this first volume. The reader is left with the assumption that more on him will be revealed later.

Probably the weakest feature is that the stories, even though they are competently told, feel like horror tales that have been told before. The vengeful woman who feels a girl stole her man. The ghost who doesn’t realize that he’s dead. The man who is covering up a crime. We’ve seen these stories in many forms previously, so the horror factor is muted somewhat. Since Dark Metro was released in Japan in 2007 and in the US in 2008, it does have a freshness to the background details—clothes, cell phone use, etc.—that helps the stories shake off a little of their mustiness.

Yoshiken’s art is also competent, but likewise doesn’t break any new ground. It’s graphic when called for and all of the characters are model pretty, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. There is a stiffness hanging around the characters occasionally, as if the artist wasn’t quite sure how to flesh them out in such short stories. Overall, if you’re looking for deep scares, this will disappoint. On the other hand, if you want spooky tales with a little gore and a lot of handsome boys and girls, then Dark Metro isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Dark Metro, vol. 1
Story by Tokyo Calen; Art by Yoshiken
ISBN: 978-1-4278-0740-3
TokyoPop, 2008

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