We often talk about the importance of originality in small press, and how you need to stand out from the crowd. Well Osaka Mime, the new book from Andrew Leavy manages to do just that bringing together and eclectic set of influences a unique concept and some breath taking art to produce a truly one of a kind read.
Publisher: Behemoth Comics
Writer: Andy Leavy
Artist: Hugo Araujo (Art), Rob Jones (Lettering)
Price: Pre-order for£4.79 from ComiXology Or Pre-Order via Diamond using code MAR211147
On first impressions Osaka Mime feels like a Japanese inspired horror in the vein of the The Ring or The Grudge. There is a mysterious monster known as a mime murdering unsuspecting citizens and then taking their place. The mime is a dark and sinister creature of the shadows that looks like a mix between Venom, the slender man, a Xenomorph from the Alien franchise but with the the shape-shifting powers of a T-800. Sent to investigate these murders is Detective Yanada (a sort of john Constantine style grizzled detective) and his idealistic partner Naito.
This horror crime mash up would have been enough for a pretty solid read, but Leavy then takes things to the next level with the world building. Based in the Dotonburi district of Osaka in Japan, at first it feels like the usual rain soaked city of Japanese thrillers like Bladerunner or Black Rain. But, a bit like the way we loved These Savage Shores because it was based in a non-western location, this all makes Osaka Mime feel different from your usual New York or L.A. crime noirs. But that’s not all, this version of Osaka is also the home to fantastical creatures such as orcs, vampyrs and werewolves, making this into a truly unique environment.
Now, on the surface this may not seem completely unique after all we’ve seen this in books like NPC Tea before, but in the context of an Asian horror crime procedural this is truly a one off, and if we had to critical perhaps a concept too far for us. It could have all worked just as well without this, however at the same time it doesn’t impede the story so we’ll let it go.
The final piece of the puzzle is Hugo Araujo’s incredible artwork. Whereas the usual go to for a Japanese book like might be an anime infused style, Araujo has a much softer and un-stylised edge to it. We’re desperately struggling for comparisons here, and the closest we can think of is David Mazzuchelli in Batman Year One, but it’s also nothing like that. It is nicely unique, yet also so familiar and classic. It really feels very accomplished yet without being overtly stylised – and we mean this as the highest complement.
Told using sublime greyscale colouring, and an almost hatching style line work, it is really great and a perfect fit for the story. The character designs are simple yet eye catching and the whole tone and feel of the book just all works. From the superb cover, to the brilliantly executed storytelling through to the subtle but equally considered lettering of Rob Jones. While there are some points which perhaps lack the final flourish of perfection, you can see his work progress and develop throughout the 80 pages and Araujo feels like the kind of artist who will only get better as his art gets more confident and this is a very strong starting point.
All in Osaka Mime is a superb read that manages to find a unique and memorable voice in the crowded market place of indie horror. While we had high hopes based on the cover and the initial pitch, this ended by being a real surprise at just how much we enjoyed and appreciated this book. Unlike its protagonist who assumes the place of its victims, Osaka Mime is a story which stands out from the shadows thanks to its originality and execution, all of which makes for and is a truly memorable read!