Writer: Andy Leavy
Illustrator: Hugo Araujo
Publisher: Behemoth Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A shape-shifting monster starts murdering for sport in Osaka, Japan. Two detectives seek to apprehend the Mime in this self-contained graphic novel that mixes the supernatural with the crime noir genre.
Fantastical creatures intermingle with humans like the urban fantasy movie Bright while the horror narrative emulates Japanese noir films such as Noroi: The Curse.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Mimes are monsters, killing humans for sustenance and creating deadly weapons with their limbs. Because Mimes can shape-shift, taking on the visage of its victims, they can be difficult to detect. Seasoned detective Shinzo Yanada has experience recognizing the beasts. Accordingly, he refuses to hesitate in exterminating Mimes he senses are masquerading as humans.
A Mime viciously murders a couple and local diner owner, goblin Mama Jumoo in the fantasy version of Osaka, Japan. Three kills in the span of only hours is unprecedented — especially for a Mime. Detectives of Osaka Police Department’s Supernatural Unit Yanada and his younger partner Koutarou Naito team up to hunt down and exterminate this murderous Mime named Gat.
Can the detectives stop Gat‘s ruthless killing streak? What if the Mime enjoys the chase? How do you stop a monster that could look like anyone around you?
Andy Leavy juggles genre-blending with tense narrative pacing professionally. Osaka Mime's supernatural horror elements and monsters are comfortably situated alongside the realism accompanied by the crime noir genre.
Monster designs plucked straight out of a horror movie claw through the pages in this graphic novel. Artist Hugo Araujo summons fright at its highest level, depicting the Mimes in their full horrific form and also capturing motion during their transformations.
Araujo wisely opts for a greyscale color palette to color his scream-inducing illustrations in Osaka Mime. The darkened monochrome values Araujo assigns to his drawings render the tone sinister, kindling an impression of watching a black and white Japanese horror film.
Rob Jones takes on lettering duties like the pro letterer he has proven himself to be in comics. Leavy's script contains a heavy amount of dialogue. Jones spaces out the words legibly and often between multiple speech bubbles, constructing a non-hindering reading experience.
This graphic novel expresses the crime noir genre through its hard-hitting and truly entertaining dialogue. Yanada and Koutarou play into seasoned vs. rookie detective tropes, but their backstories and believable dialogue add organic layers to their characterizations.
Araujo's thin lines and scratchboard/realistic-hybrid art style are optimal in conveying the horror beating throughout the pages of the comic. His standout artistry on every single panel is quite the undertaking, genuinely leaving me shivering with fear.
Osaka Mime features consistent 9-panel-grid layouts. This repetitive three-tier style is quintessential in lulling the readers into that hard-boiled crime mood during dialogue spoken between detectives Yanada and Koutarou.
Sudden breaks in the grid structure shift the tone felicitously. The Mime slashes its way through the page in uniform-breaking panels that take up more space on the page. This layout deviance disturbs the visual flow and surprises readers with effective horror shock value.
Leavy's script allows for Araujo to take artistic risks with the format, profiting hugely from a visually engaging vantage point. Even less action-based frames articulate the idea of motion. A pair of keys is tossed, crossing panel gutters to show movement and fluidity.
Another shoutout to Rob Jones for his unobtrusive lettering work for such a hefty script. Jones' speech balloons take on a slanted shape, meshing well with the textures of Araujo's art and the tone of Leavy's dialogue. I'd be remiss not to mention the brilliance of cinematic SFX use adding horror-based tension.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Horror imagery abounds, and the comic does not hold back in depicting graphic violence, gruesome murders, and frightening images. The Mime art design alone is seriously scary. Also, a content warning should be put in place for language, mature themes, and dialogue.
Leavy has written an immersive and well-thought-out story with Osaka Mime. It’s unfortunate that the graphic novel clocks in at 80 pages — a feat of its own — when I would have loved to read much more of this incredible comic.
In that same vein of craving an even longer story, adequate elaboration on the Mimes themselves and their behaviors/inception felt somewhat unsatisfying. A longer version of Osaka Mime could have also explored and fleshed out more of the highly intriguing backstory about the two protagonists.
At times, the amount of extraneous dialogue not pertaining to the situation at hand or not shaping the characters felt excessive/unneeded. There were times where a simple caption box could have substituted the expository dialogue.
This is not a qualm at all but more of an observation. Irish writer Andy Leavy represents Japan and its Japanese protagonists in a positive light. There appears to be no inoffensive stereotypes, but white authorial perspective is a viewpoint to take into account since Leavy is a white writer depicting Japanese culture.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
There’s an intimacy, even an elegance, to the presentation of horror in Osaka Mime, pulsating with creeping disquiet. When a horror genre story can make you genuinely care about the existence, fate, and relationships of its characters, you know you’re reading a resonant piece of writing. Andy Leavy and illustrator Hugo Araujo manage to alleviate fear with levity before striking back with unelected terror again when the moment is opportune.
Reading Osaka Mime showcases horror with respect for the art of storytelling. Craft is evident, as the narrative beats, panel structure, lettering choices, and dialogue all procure a complex emotional response. Araujo’s art alone is worth buying this graphic novel. If only Osaka Mime was longer and readers could spend more time lost within the haunting pages of this story... Who knows? Perhaps this isn’t the last we’ll see in the Mime-hunting universe of Osaka Mime.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Go SouthEast Vol. 2 by Andy Leavy, Dino Caruso, Derrick Crow, Rodney Laibahas, & Shawn VanHuss
The Good Asian by Pornsak Pichetshote & Alexandre Tefenkgi
Criminal by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
If you like the art:
Stray Bullets by David Lapham
Batman: Black and White by Various Collaborators
Finder by Carla McNeil
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Andy Leavy – Writer (@midniteauth0r)
New Face: Andy is a storyteller and writer, focusing mostly on graphic novels, comic books and short stories.
He has several interesting pastimes, such as reading, practicing Jiu-Jitsu, gaming or -- in his own words -- "occasionally fighting owls."
Outlander: He hails from Ireland.
Hugo Araujo – Illustrator (@bruxarium)
He is a full time illustrator for comic projects and other independent publications.
Hugo has a special interest drawing subject in his free time: witches!
Outlander: Hugo was born and raised in Brazil.
Rob Jones – Letterer (@RobJonesWrites)
Multitalented: He is a writer, co-founder of the Indie comic company, Madius Comics, and has worked as a letterer for several comic companies such as Image, Humanoids, Heavy Metal, and Scout.
Co-wrote Papercuts and Inkstains, Griff Gristle and Ramlock Investigates with Mike Sambrook.
Award Winner: He made the 2015 British Comic Awards longlist for Papercuts and Inkstains. HORRERE was nominated for two Ghastly Awards in 2016.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Osaka Mime characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Andy Leavy or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED