Dr. Songsakdina “Bun” Bunnakit is a respected coroner. He is 31 and a closeted gay man who has kept his orientation a secret since his first and only attempt at romance with a man ended badly. Apart from some token attempts at retaining a girlfriend for appearances sake, Bun Is largely devoted to his work, with no real friends apart from the prosecutor Pued.
When Dr. Bun is brought in to investigate a young woman’s death, he is quick to dismiss the police theory of suicide. Bun is also suspicious of the young woman’s boyfriend, a teacher named Tan, who hardly seems upset at his girlfriend’s passing. However, as Dr. Bun is writing up his report, he is attacked in his home by a masked man, who says everyone around Dr. Bun will suffer if he doesn’t declare the death a case of suicide.
When Pued disappears shortly after Dr. Bun confides in him about the threats, he once again becomes suspicious of Tan, who is one of the few who knew of his involvement with the investigation. To Dr. Bun’s surprise, Tan comes to him with a solid alibi and wants to help find his girlfriend’s killer. Yet, there is still evidence Tan is involved in the case. More worrying, however, is the growing attraction that seems to be forming between Bun and Tan.
A graphic novel adaptation of a novel by Thai author, Sammon (which has also been adapted into a successful Thai TV drama), Manner of Death, Vol. 1 proves an exciting start to what promises to be an interesting thriller series. I hesitate to call it an erotic thriller, however, as this opening chapter is more focused on the logistics of Bun’s work as a coroner and his amateur detective work with Tan than it is the sexual tension between them. There are sex scenes, but they are tame things compared to the lion’s share of modern yaoi.
Manner of Death, Vol. 1 works equally well as a police procedural story or a romance, depending on which aspect a reader might be more interested in. The opening chapters lean more heavily upon Bun’s work, showcasing his analytic mind as he instructs a medical student in his charge on how a dead body can tell a story as vivid as one by a living person regarding how they died. The focus shifts more toward romance as the story progresses, with Bun battling his feelings for Tan, his own paranoia regarding loving a man, and his logical reasons to take anything Tan says at face value.
The artwork by Yukari Umemoto is good and matches the story. Umemoto utilizes varied character designs to keep the characters from being confused for one another. They are also very good at blocking the book’s many fight scenes.
This volume is rated for ages 16 and up. I feel this is an appropriate rating, given the mature subject matter. There is no outright nudity, and the sexual elements of the romance are relatively tame for this sort of comic. Yet with a storyline centered around violent deaths and flashbacks dealing with suicide and child abuse, this is not a comic for the weak of heart or of stomach.
Manner of Death Vol. 1
Art by Yukari Umemoto
Yen Press, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 16+
Related media: Book to Comic
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation: Thai
Character Representation: Gay