Mysterious Disappearances Volume 1: Darkness Station



Diving into reading a series after having watched the anime is always a mixed bag, but is particularly challenging when facing an adaptation that extends too far in one direction. Mysterious Disappearances volume 1 does a good job of illustrating that, I feel. The story of this first volume remains strong and sound, but being a repeat of the work of the earliest episodes in the anime, it’s very easy to take for granted the work of the author, and subject the source material to your expectations and experiences with its adaptation. I can confess to letting that thought process cruise me through my first read of this volume, but this is a proper review after all, so I’d have to do a little better than a passive read.

All things considered, Mysterious Disappearances volume 1 is very much a “panel for panel” of its adaptation. In some cases it’s actually comical how similar they are- even from a visual perspective. In regards to the narrative though, I think the largest difference is most likely the eroticism of the first volume. In an anime format, it just can’t help but feel too fanservice-y and explicit- which is ironic, because the manga is far more forthcoming with that sort of work. By some interesting twist though, Nujima’s rather heavy inclusion of that side of things comes through as more of a passing breeze than anything. If I were to propose a theory, it likely comes in equal parts from how much it’s shown as “plain”, and how little a reaction is elicited by any parties involved. It’s not something drawn purely for the sake of erotic appeal to a reader, which seems counter intuitive considering the frequency, but the longer you spend around the nudity, the less of a shock or toll it extorts upon the reader as a facet of the story. It’s simply another piece- one that is played counter to “young” Adashino’s milf-centric quips.

Though I’m sure nudity is hardly the sole aspect would-be readers are curious about in regards to Mysterious Disappearances volume 1. Sticking closer to the similarities with its adaptation, Nujima does well to create a storied world. The way they move very easily from point to point shows a very natural flow that stems from Sumireko’s initial experience. Where her incantation acted upon her own body, the one used by guidance counsellor Uname is one that acts upon others. Even more, much in the same way as Adashino pointed out with Sumireko, the curse that Uname has been making use of has likely integrated with herself- allowing Uname to wield it freely without restriction. On top of that there’s also the mystery of the siblings Adashino and Oto, and a slight story being told about their history. Obviously, the goal is for both Adashino and Oto to gain passage back to their home world, but Adashino currently does not have the funds to do… among other motivations. More interesting though is Oto, in this case. Her very definite fear towards the caution signs does a great job of showing how terrible some of these mysteries can be. After all, you have a ‘person’ from another world shaking at the existence of a danger warning. It’s all very great groundwork that creates a ‘sort’ of tense mystery- something that really had come off as more exciting than dangerous before the end of this volume.

Speaking to that danger though, Nujima really has a gift for drawing character models… which I suppose is to be expected from someone that has some, we’ll say history. Either way, while the designs featured in Mysterious Disappearances volume 1 may be rather simple, Nujima is able to extract praise-worthy blocking and styling from them. While I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, I also think it’s rather clear that Nujima is aiming for their own sort of appeal with how they draw their characters. Much like I’ve mentioned in my Blood Blade volume reviews, Nujima is aiming for something more like a photograph than anything. It’s intended to recreate the quality of something frozen in time, rather than something that time flows through. And after reading this first volume, I’d agree that it’s the better option for Nujima to pursue. Their ability to depict motion isn’t near as strong as their ability to really sell a still frame.

If there’s a conclusion to make from this, it’s really that Zero-G had some correct ideas with the series, but was just wholly unable to match the level of quality that Nujima displays in Mysterious Disappearances volume 1. Nujima isn’t some other-worldly talent, nor is the story something that will be revered by fans all over the world. But, it’s still a rather good first volume. Good enough that mystery fans (who don’t mind a hefty helping of nudity) will certainly be engaged in its creative story and unique world. Good enough that fans of the anime should be gently putting it down and swapping it out for the pages within Mysterious Disappearances volume 1. And, I mean, obviously it’s good enough that I’ve wanted to talk about it, share my thoughts, and recommend the series.

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