I’ve been a little stressed lately, so what better way to calm down than to read some horror manga. …What? Don’t look at me like that. Being scared can be very relaxing. Last month, I was linked to a horror manga entitled Hideout, and by looking at the cover page, I have to say I had high expectations. A creepy face ripping through the supposed cover page of the manga as if it’s ready to kill you? It seemed like a good old fashioned horror manga—as opposed to a psychological horror that I just haven’t had the brain power for lately—and I was more than willing to dive in.
Hideout features a couple going through turmoil in their relationship and beau Seiichi Kirishima has taken it upon himself to clean the slate, so to speak. He wants to start anew with his wife, Miki, so he brings her on an extravagant tropical vacation. She doesn’t seem entirely won over by his goodwill, however, but she’s willing to play along when Seiichi tells her of a beautiful waterfall he heard of. That night they set out to find the waterfall. We also learn two very important things along the way: Miki blames Seiichi for the death of their child, and they really, really hate each other. So after that last nugget of information, it probably comes as no surprise that he tries to murder her. Ah, the old “I heard of something cool, let’s look for it far away from civilization” trick…
Miki tries to escape her homicidal husband by crawling into a suspicious looking cave, which Seiichi then follows her into. He deals the finishing blow, leaving her body to rot among the bones scattered in the cave, but his curiosity prods him to further explore the cave. No, that’s a lie. It isn’t due merely to his curiosity, but also because a child, who seems to remind Seiichi of his late son, appeared to lament Seiichi’s cruelty towards his “mama”. He is drawn as much by the child and his attachments to his dead son as by his own wonder.
Deeper in the cave he finds a woman trapped inside a cell, one of the only others left alive despite there being many cages, who speaks of a man who keeps people trapped. Torn by his own desire to get the fuck out and to help the woman, Seiichi lingers a little too long and is captured by the man, who looks more like a gnarled skeleton than a living person. He finds himself trapped with no way out. Left at the mercy of the man—who will most certainly kill him—and his wife—who it turns out wasn’t dead (merely incapacitated) and even more frightening, on the demon-man’s good side—Seiichi struggles against impossible odds.
At the end of the day though, the main question here is this: did Kakizaki Masasumi’s tale of terror leave me reaching for the light switch and a fuzzy blanket for protection?
In my opinion, this manga wasn’t really scary. At all. I didn’t feel any goosebumps and I was invested insofar as I wanted to see how much Seiichi would be destroyed. At least on that front I wasn’t let down. I think Hideout’s biggest problem was that literally every character was unlikable, save for the demon kid crying about his “mama”. Seiichi is a murderer… or, attempted murderer, whose tragic background doesn’t give enough credence to his actions. Miki is a complete and utter bitch to the point where even her love for her kid is refuted and she ends up caring for nothing more than money and designer items. Everyone is despicable, so I didn’t really worry about them because I didn’t care if they died.
What the series does really well, however, is exploring what drives Seiichi to this point in his life. The story, which takes place in the current time, is placed around flashbacks of his son being born, his work life, his interactions with his wife’s family (who are assholes as well), and eventually his son’s death and funeral. Seiichi is desperate for normalcy and what he wants more than anything else is a family. This story, more than a horror manga, is a psychological study of how far one man will go to get what he wants. I wouldn’t even call this psychological horror really. In fact, I’m not sure what to call it.
If you’re looking for a good horror, I wouldn’t recommend this. However, it is a good manga if you don’t go into it expecting to be scared. So read it on its merits, not on the lies in the genre tags.