After two volumes that layered exploitation sleaze and shock-horror twists over meditations on gender identity and the commodification of women in society, Yuureitou’s third volume opens with a conflict that seems embrace its most schlocky tendencies. Continuing last volume’s cliffhanger ending with a chapter called “The Value of Life,” volume three sees Yuureitou’s protagonists rushing around in search of a person to harvest for their body parts, all to appease the desires a mad scientist in an iron mask known only as Doctor Tesla. With a deadly virus running through their veins, Tetsuo, Amano, and their officer friend must race against time to find a suitable sacrifice.
“They say her voice was as beautiful as that of a goddess.” That’s one of the few things Amano learns about Rika, the woman who supposedly tied her own stepmother to the clock’s face. What would lead a person to do that, and what her own thoughts might have been… all of this can only be inferred, refracted through secondary sources with their own ambiguous motives. All pictures of her were burned, and now she exists only as a distant wraith in the background of a single photo, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of feminine hysteria.
There’s something ugly lurking in Yuureitou. It seeps in from every corner, lurking in too-close panels of drifter Amano savoring his darkest instincts, or his new friend Tetsuo reacting with uncommon violence or disdain. It’s there in the way the panels themselves fetishize Tetsuo, who seems uncomfortable in his own seemingly unwanted skin. It’s ingrained in the manga’s horror tones and exploitation roots, the way it crosses sex with violence so callously that you’d almost guess the mangaka thinks they’re one and the same. And it erupts in vivid, hideous bursts, as the story’s characters are made instruments of fear by lurking, bag-faced men.