Name: Lawrence Brenner
Title: Nightmare Inspector Volume 9 Return
Author: Shin Mashiba
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: T Ages 13+
Star Rating: 3.5
As I stated in my review of the last volume of Nightmare Inspector (Volume 8 Madness, http://www.staticmultimedia.com/print/reviews/nightmare_inspector_volume_8_madness), the rating of the volume surprises me as this volume contains even more disturbing images and concepts than the other volume. In Return, there are even more disturbing issues of torture, abuse, dominance, and control. There is a lot of imagery and topics that may not be appropriate for younger readers. I would say that this volume should be rated T+ or even above because of some its imagery, themes, and content. Unlike my general no-spoilers policy, there is a lot of extreme torture in this volume, and you see this very early in the volume. These themes also persist throughout the volume. All that said more as a warning, this is a very good volume.
This volume challenges your perceptions of reality, of dreams, of nightmares, and even of perspectives. Such a simple thing as someone or something being out of your line of sight can change all the pieces of a memory. The entire volume has a lot of this. It is actually very hard to talk about a lot of the details, without giving away important plot points and other spoilers. However, from the back cover you do learn that this volume deals with Chitose’s past, Azusa’s return, and a dream that corrupts all other dreams. The dream that corrupts has a very interesting source, and to say more would cause a bit of a big spoiler and the entire idea is to read the volume yourself so you can see the progression of events. Without revealing anything, I really enjoyed some of the dialogue in the chapter “The Sixty-Second Night: Door” this is a prime chapter that challenges your perspectives of reality, of what “doors” and “keys” can be and of what can dream and dream to be. As confusing as that sentence sounds, upon reading the volume that sentence will make sense.
There is a lot in this volume to read and think about, this volume has a lot of depressing content, but there is a little humor, such as what I have dubbed “the chopsticks incident.” This little bit of humor adds a break to all the other cheerless content. I think this something that many readers would not be expecting given the sounding content. Reading the panels, you do not exactly see this incoming. And yes I mean “incoming.”
The only real problems I have with the volume are that some of fonts on some pages are difficult to read, such as on some pages the white fonts on the black backgrounds. Adding a little more bolding to those would make this easier to read.
This is a another volume that really does make you think, again as stated in my prior review of the last Nightmare Inspector this will not be a volume, nor a title for everyone. It is however an extremely strong story. It is something that you have to read more than once, and think about after you read it. Hence as I stated in my last review “Read it, think (and dream if you dare), and then read it again.”