157-158. Hanako & The Terror of the Allegory Vol. 1 & 2

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, Vol. 1 by Sakae Esuno (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 224 pages
Ages: 16+
Finished: Aug. 7, 2010
First Published: 2004, Japan (Mar. 2010 US)
Publisher: Tokyo Pop
Genre: YA, graphic novel, horror, manga
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Folklore. These tales are alive. These legends come into public consciousness and grow exponentially.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: Folklore and Japanese horror, couldn't pass up giving this one a try!

An allegory in this series refers to a story of the people, folklore, whether centuries old or a new urban legend that is popular and well-known but when certain people hear it they actually believe it for whatever reasons; it scares them, it touches their consciousness or their guilt. The the allegory becomes real and they are haunted/stalked by strange creatures. Daisuke Aso is an Allegory Detective, he's not fond of allegories, but since he is cursed by two himself, it makes him perfect for the job. Daisuke's allegories are that if he hiccups 100 times in a row he will die, unfortunately for him whenever he is in the presence of an allegory he starts to hiccup. His second curse is Hanako-san of the Bathroom, a technological whiz who pushes him to take the allegory cases and generally helps him out but is also a pain in the butt towards him. I can't tell if she is meant to be a little girl, or just significantly younger than the college age of the other characters. She's certainly not chibi. But from the way she talks she's not an innocent little child either.

This book covers three cases. "The Man with an Axe Under the Bed" and this story brings in the second main character, Kanae, who eventually stays on with Daisuke and works in his office helping him solve his cases. Then "The Slit Mouthed Woman" is an old Japanese folktale that is plaguing a young man and his new girlfriend and finally "Human-Faced Fish" which is slightly based on a hot news story that made the rounds once, But here it is much more eerie as a bus load of school children plunge into the ocean leaving only one survivor who is being haunted by the allegory of human-faced fish.

I really enjoyed this. Each story was like one of those old horror comics with it's own little mini-story but there is also an over arcing theme that keeps the three main characters together. Unfortunately there is quite a lot of s*x talk, and a bit of female nudity. The violence though is not over the top, more scary than bloody, which I think is the point here ... to scare. A fun, creepy read.

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, Vol. 2 by Sakae Esuno (US) - (Canada)

Pages: 240 pages
Ages: 16+
Finished: Aug. 8, 2010
First Published: 2005, Japan (Aug. 2010 US)
Publisher: Tokyo Pop
Genre: YA, graphic novel, horror, manga
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Have you ever heard the legend about facing two mirrors toward each other?

Volume 2 starts right off with a new case in which Kanae finds herself in trouble once again with an allegory in "The Demon in the Mirror". Then teenage girls are committing suicide in a strange way when a girl gets pushed in front of a train, and then the girl who pushed her is next pushed in front of a train and so on until there is an epidemic of dead young girls and the train has been stopped for day while Hanako, Aso and Kanae work the case in a two part story called "Teke-Teke". Next comes a strange case "The Piercing Hole and the White Thread", where a little girl gets her ear pierced by a friend with a needle and when she pulls the needle out along comes some white thread which just happens to be her optic nerve. Laying in the hospital, blind, with many of her nerves reaching all over the room, the detectives must find the allegory hiding deep within her that is killing her. Finally, we end with "Kokkuri-san Part 1" which involves Aso, the Allegory Detective himself and his secret that he has kept hidden so far. The volume ends with an exciting cliffhanger that begs for volume 3 to come soon but I don't see it showing up anywhere yet so it may be a while.

Aso and Kanae start to form the beginnings of a relationship as she is saved by the detective twice in this volume. They both seem to be aware of these feelings within themselves but there is Aso's terrible secret between them and Hanako, who is jealous of Kanae, makes Kanae aware of it halfway through the book. Whether this will affect her ability to continue to care for Aso more than a friend remains to be seen.

I really love this series. The legends are wonderful and creepy and the three main characters are likable in their own way, though they all do have their problems as well. This volume did *not* have any of the s*x talk or nudity found in the first volume which was a plus for me, knowing it will not be an assured aspect of every volume. It still was s*xually suggestive at times but much toned down from Vol.1 But from an adult point of view this is a very fun series; I love the Japanese take on horror and at the end of each volume is a write up on each tale with the history, meaning, popularity or other interesting information on the legend in Japanese culture.


  1. These sound very interesting. I'm curious now. The girls' suicide by train reminds me of that Japanese movie...i forget the title, has Suicide in it. Gah! Anyway, thanks for the reviews.


  2. These sound excellent but aren't available in the UK at the moment. Just my kind of thing :)

  3. Rhinoa - They show up as available on bookdepository.co.uk!


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