In this volume, we are introduced to our cast of characters — and though Hokuto is hit by the Exposition Fairy in a fairly obvious way, once we get all the explanations of who’s who out of the way, the stories take off. Subaru deals deftly with a number of possessions, including a hilarious instance of an unlucky woman’s suit being possessed by all of the ill will of shoppers who longed for but didn’t purchase the garment. A slightly more serious confrontation comes when the ghost of a suicide threatens to destroy one of the observation decks on Tokyo Tower. Both Subaru and Seishiro arrive and their opposite ways of viewing the world, Subaru from innocence, Seishiro from a cynical practicality, are needed to persuade the ghost away from destruction. The volume ends on a spookier note. Subaru is haunted by a dream from childhood of a vaguely threatening encounter with an older boy by a cherry tree. At times, he feels there’s a connection between this memory and Seishiro, and Seishiro himself seems to indicate a truth behind this dream when the three companions take a trip to Ueno Park to enjoy the spring blossoms. One of the nicest aspects of Tokyopop’s translation of this series is a helpful glossary at the back explaining key locations and untranslated words (such as food). Tokyo Babylon was written for an audience who knows Tokyo, and as most Western readers do not, the help is much appreciated. Equally helpful is the index to sound effects, as they are not translated on the page.
Tokyo Babylon, vol. 1