Title: Island in a Puddle Vol. 1
Author: Kei Sanbe
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Island in a Puddle Vol. 1 is a new manga from Kei Sanbe, the writer responsible for Erased. Finished in five volumes in Japan, this seinen suspense story offers a tense situation to our young protagonist with a supernatural element.
Island in a Puddle tells the story of a boy called Minato Myojin. Though he’s still in elementary school, he lives alone with his younger sister, Nagisa, most of the time. They have a mother, but her work keeps her busy, not letting her return home for days. Or at least, so it seems.
One day the kids go to the amusement park with their mother. As they enjoy one of the rides, calamity strikes. I won’t go into much detail to avoid spoilers. However, the important thing is that Minato suddenly sees himself in an unbelievable situation.
He’s now in the body of a full-grown adult, and there’s a corpse by his side. There are a lot of questions going on in his mind. However, he’s smart enough to partially figure out what happened and avoid the worse repercussions of the messy state of affairs.
Despite his smarts, going back to the old life won’t be a piece of cake. He can’t simply tell people he is Minato, and his shady appearance is likely to make people think he is odd. There are also other complications, as his face looks similar to a wanted man.
There’s a weird supernatural element involved here with this transformation, and it isn’t explained at all. However, the reader gets to understand the reason for this man being wanted and what caused the woman’s death. So far, I’d wager these elements will be relevant to the plot development in more ways than simply backstory.
In fact, there are hints that volume 2 will introduce new complications because of these past events. However, there’s something about the cryptic nature of how they happened that pulls me in. I can’t help but feel there’s some connection between these events and Minato himself or his constantly absent mother.
The prose in the volume makes for a quick read, with five chapters that I can’t even imagine reading separately. The sequences are well organized and structured in a compelling way that enhances the mystery. It may be too early to gauge the narrative’s quality as it may derail gloriously in future books, but the pacing is excellent.
When it comes to the art style, it feels a little blocky and rough around the edges at times. But it manages to convey the emotions well with the contrast of darker and lighter objects and scenes. The rain motif is also visually striking, adding extra weight to some moments. This is especially true for the events at the amusement park.
Island in a Puddle Vol. 1 is an appealing first volume for a mystery story. Though the supernatural element may be a little off-putting to some readers, and there’s still not much to go as far as the plot goes, the pacing makes for an excellent read. Hopefully, the next volumes will provide more depth to what has been shown so far.
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