Although the Ides have passed and March is almost over, I’m still on my horror manga kick. Luckily, my friends and the internet are only too happy to oblige me in my search. As opposed to Ibitsu this manga doesn’t rely on urban legends for their scares. No, Yoshiki Tonogai’s Doubt (also known as Rabbit Doubt) relies much more on violating basic human trust between other humans. It’s a much more real, tangible fear in my opinion, and makes the story that much better because not only is it horror, it’s also a murder mystery. A little Are You Afraid of the Dark in my Agatha Christie? Please and thank you.
Quickly we’re introduced to Yuu Aikawa and his friend from school, Mitsuki Houyama who talk about Yuu’s current obsession: a strange little cell phone game called “Rabbit Doubt”. In the game, each player is represented by a rabbit avatar but one rabbit is actually a wolf. In other words, one player is killing the other players off and the ‘rabbits’ have to figure out who the wolf is before they all get taken out of the game. Yuu is so into the game that he’s actually outside waiting for the other rabbits in his group so they can all hang out and chat about the game. The first two to arrive are Eiji Hoshi (a high school punk) and Haruka Akechi. The two seem to know each other very well and are excited to meet the other players. The last one to arrive to this little shindig is a young-looking girl named Rei Hazama. Although Mitsuki doesn’t play the game, she’s still invited to the party and they all go out to a karaoke bar.
During this outing, it’s revealed that previously, Rei was a television idol—a hypnotist, to be exact—who was forced to retire due to a scandal. And although this was a painful experience for her, she doesn’t seem to hold a grudge and is pleased to see that both Mitsuki and Yuu enjoyed her show when they were younger. This trip also reveals that Eiji is just one of those types that doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘no’. He takes an interest in Rei and pursues her but she wants nothing to do with him in that way: they just met, after all. After being told off by Yuu in the hallway, he goes to the bathroom to cool his head. While heading back to the three girls in the room, Yuu is attacked by an unknown figure and wakes up in a dark storehouse, alone and unsure of how he got there.
As he looks around the room he finds two things. 1) He finds the whereabouts of Hajime: another player of Rabbit Doubt who was supposed to come to their meeting, but was busy. And 2) the mangled body of Rei dangling against the wall. Quickly, the two boys find that they cannot exit the room by normal means and almost give up before Haruka and Mitsuki come in from the other side. Trying to distract the girls from Rei’s situation, Yuu asks how they got it when they obviously could not. Shuffling some of their clothes aside, both of the girls end up revealing that they have been branded with a barcode. It appears that next to the door is a scanner where each player is able to put their barcode against to open the door. However, as they go to find the whereabouts of Eiji they find out that each barcode can only be used once.
Quickly after finding Eiji, the players begin dropping like rabbits and the survivors realize that they must find the wolf among them before they all end up dead.
From this point is where the real intrigue is. Even if you figure it out early on, it’s really the details and the twists that make the series interesting. Even the art style struck me with its use of shadows—well done shadows in a horror anything just gives me the best kinds of chills. What I don’t really like is how bland Yuu is. I know this is necessary so that all the other characters have a chance to become just that much more weird and suspicious but there’s nothing to him. He says the right things all the time. He’s nice. He’s just…I wish he died first. Too bad that would have ruined the plot! But, if you like series that will keep you guessing, secrets out the wazoo, and a type of horror that comes close to Silent Hill in aesthetics, I highly recommend you try out Doubt.