Doubt (Yoshiki TONOGAI) - Reviews

Doubt (Yoshiki TONOGAI)
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JESSETHEBUSH's avatar
Oct 6, 2016

Doubt tries to be your standard scary death game manga and the suspence/mystery is enough to keep you entertained if you dont think too hard but unfortunately it is filled with plot holes and unjustified character actions and will leave you underwhelmed. 

~Story~ 2/10

The biggest issue with the story is that the upon arriving in the set up death game, no goal is given to the players and they simply wonder around trying to find an exit which everyone including the characters should know is pointless. It is obvious that the person that set up the game, especially if they didnt say so is not going to give them an easy exit and nobody tries anything other than using the set up bar codes to go anywhere new. If any rules were set up or the game were actually the slightest bit like the phone game at least then there would have been some purpose in the plot but sadly that wasnt the case. The phone game is poorly explained from the start but from what i could tell there is nothing in it other than a random choice and if correct then the players all win and if incorrect the players all get killed. This would make an absolutely terrible game since over the phone there are no real hints that can be given as to who the wolf is but that aside in the real life death game there was never a choice anyway!? If the fundamental part of the game is going to be ignored why even pretend that its related at all? People just got killed one by one which is totally pointless and has absolutely nothing to do with the game, the killer may aswell have killed them and never bothered with the elaborate set up since that was their only purpose anyway, to kill the people. To its credit the story did have an ending even if a few things had to conjure up a small amount of bs and push some unexplained things under the rug to get there. I will not say what the things are because they are spoilers.

~Art~ 7/10

The art was okay, average quality but the parts touching gore territory were handled well.

~Characters~ 3/10

The characters were set up with the standard hidden tragic pasts found in this genre which is fine, but i found the justification for doing what they did totally lacking particuarly for the main villian.

2/10 story
7/10 art
3/10 characters
4/10 overall
RickNoel's avatar
Apr 24, 2016

I am a huge fan of the High Stakes Game genre. The psychological struggles and battles of wits commonly present in these stories are fun to watch and, when done well, create an engrossing atmosphere. A major sub-genre of this would be the Death Game, where the cast is more or less forced into a scenario where they compete against one another, are driven to the brink and ultimately die off one by one.

The premise, setup and general execution of all stories from this genre are typically the same, and Doubt is no exception.

  1. A cast (size doesn't matter, though it works better with fewer characters) of initially unconnected characters meets for the first time, and before they know it they are suddenly whisked away to an isolated place (abandoned buildings, deserted islands and alternate dimensions are all common examples).
  2. Upon awakening, the cast is given a loose explanation of the "game," sometimes directly by the mastermind and sometimes indirectly through inference.
  3. The ultimate goal is to "escape." Find the key, find the secret door, find the impostor, defeat the mastermind, last man standing; there are many variations of the "device," but both the process and goal are more or less the same in every story.
  4. The characters, driven by paranoia or self-interest, turn on one another. Lies, tricks, betrayals, temporary alliances and scapegoating are all common.
  5. Because of 4, and driven by 3, the cast shrinks until only a few "key" characters are left.
  6. The climax does one of the following: reveal a way out, reveal the mastermind, give the protags the final key. This is the part where half the viewers/readers say, "I knew it!!" and the other half say, "No way!!"
  7. The path to the goal is now clear, and the protags have a decisive confrontation with the antags.
  8. Some number of the cast escapes. They celebrate their victory and mourn their friends.
  9. The viewer/reader, and sometimes also the protags, are given some variation of, "But this is only the beginning," and the story ends.

This is a tried-and-true formula, used in everything from manga to video games to live-action movies. And it's fun. We come for the suspense and we stay for the suspense. Although the end score will be given based especially on creativity and execution during The Reveal and The Conclusion, ultimately these stories are all fairly interesting, and all serve the same purpose.

Doubt is nothing unique or different here; it's a Death Game with a stock cast, stock premise and stock execution. However, that doesn't stop it from being enjoyable. The characters are vaguely interesting, the setup is exciting, and as readers we get to theorize and wonder as the story unfolds.

The story is dark and violent. Murder, paranoia and insanity are common themes, and a truly happy ending is impossible. If this is the type of story that interests you, give it a shot. It's very accessible at a mere 20 chapters of 40-50 pages apiece, something that can be easily finished in one sitting of less than two hours.

Overall, I would recommend it to fans of the Death Game genre, but not to people simply looking for an interesting mystery, or for a new type of story. There are better Death Game stories out there, and by all standards this one is really quite mediocre.

-

That's all for the general review. Now I will detail my thoughts on the execution of the story itself. SPOILERS inbound, be warned.

We have six characters: Yuu (protag), Mitsuki (childhood friend), Eiji (delinquent), Haruka (tough girl), Hajime (analytical guy), and Rei (mascot). None are particularly intriguing, but they serve well enough.

During character introductions, three things jumped out at me: Eiji's propensity for violence, Rei's status as a cripple, and Rei's past experience with hypnotism. Eiji seemed pretty par for the course, so of course Rei's traits were immediate red flags; as a huge fan of Corpse Party, which to this day I consider the best horror story I've read, I know that the helpless little girl is rarely what she seems. So, from the onset, I predicted that Rei would be the "secret" antagonist.

Naturally, I was thrown for a loop when she became the first casualty. In chapter 2.

This intrigued me, and I became more interested. The golden rule of these stories seems all-too-often to be, "Find the most helpless character, he/she is the villain," and so I immediately selected Mitsuki as my new predicted antagonist.

Things progressed normally, the barcodes served as the "keys" in this story, and paranoia became a factor. They ran around, they devolved into suspicion, and they fell deeper into despair. Eiji died (pretty pathetically; he got so little "screentime"), and Haruka followed soon after. I was feeling pretty smug about my Mitsuki prediction.

And then she died too.

At this development, I was hooked. My predictions had fallen through, and I was thrown for a loop once again. All of a sudden we had just Protag and Hajime. Who was it? Was Hajime the smiling culprit all along? Does Protag have a dissociative personality disorder? Maybe they were all played for fools and there was a secret mastermind who hadn't even been introduced yet??

I'll admit I was a little overexcited, and I had a moment of tremendous respect for this manga, which I had assumed would be "just another Death Game story." It was doing things with the plot I hadn't seen before. I had discovered a hidden gem.

And then Mitsuki came back.

In classic terrible mystery execution, first we're treated to a solid almost two chapters' worth of Protag going, "How could it be you??" while the culprit's face was obscured. Then once she's revealed, she gives a terribly flimsy excuse for her violent actions: she was seeking revenge on all liars because her father once tried to commit suicide after being betrayed by a friend. Naturally, she herself was lying and betraying the entire time, so her actions were hypocritical on top of unjustified. And then Hajime reveals he had already figured it out (the cheapest mystery twist ever) and had used Haruka's body as a replacement for Mitsuki's to trick Protag in order to figure out if he was an accomplice or not.

I was disappointed and annoyed, but the story continued along the classic format. Protag and Hajime team up, they work together to trick Mitsuki, there's a final confrontation and they defeat her. Mystery solved, story over. They pick her up and use her Master Key to facilitate their escape. Except it doesn't work.

And then Rei came back.

By her own admittance, Rei was a prodigy of hypnotism who was scapegoated by the media into being a "fake" and a "liar," climaxing in her parents' attempted triple suicide, which she survived. Spurred by this, she swore revenge on liars and decided to turn her one talent - hypnotism - into the tool to meet her goals.

(A quick aside. Hypnotism is real, and it works, but not how it's usually portrayed in fiction. Hypnotism makes use of the subject's compliance with the act and willingness to be hypnotized to place a trance-like state of "suggestion" upon the subject. In this state, the subject will focus intently on a single thought or action, to the exclusion of almost all else. "Party trick" hypnotism often involves acting like an animal or being unable to move part of the body. In therapy, hypnotism can be used to recall past memories, block painful memories, or block tendencies for certain addictive habits. The key is that hypnotism cannot be forced on an unwilling subject, and it cannot inspire actions that the subject would not normally be inclined to make.)

Rei then explains that she took advantage of Mitsuki's depression, as well as her interest in hypnotism, to make Mitsuki into her tool. Normally she puts up an automatic act, but via hypnotic keywords or sounds will revert to her normal sadistic personality. From this Mitsuki is both the culprit and a victim, with Rei serving as the mastermind.

Suddenly Protag and Hajime wake up in a hospital, with police compiling evidence against a comatose Mitsuki, and Rei nowhere to be found. Protag then recieves a call from Rei explaining she has other agents who are about to kill Hajime and that Mitsuki is about to kill him. We get a quick view of Mitsuki standing over Protag with a knife, and the manga ends.

It would be all-too-easy to simply say, "Woah!" and leave it at that, but unfortunately this ending cannot be simply brushed aside as "unpredictable but mediocre." Forgiving Hajime's deception and the faked deaths of Mitsuki and Rei, the plot holes are too major to gloss over.

I can live with Hajime's actions, cheap as they are. I can live with Mitsuki being hypnotized, though it feels like a cop-out. What I cannot justify is Rei's faked "death." Since the body wasn't fake, the only way Rei could trick all of them into believing she was dead was- through hypnotism. Which contradicts not only the real science behind hypnotism, but Rei's in-story explanation as well.

So the story actually began like this: Rei's other pet hypnotized dude (the bald guy, who was the "wolf" from a prior game) knocks out the cast and takes them to the abandoned building. Rei hypnotizes them into believing she's dead and puts the barcode marks on their bodies (except for Protag, cuz she wanted the rest to suspect him). Then they wake up, they think Rei's dead (thanks to hypnotism) and Mitsuki starts picking them off (also thanks to hypnotism). Then finally at the end, Mitsuki wakes up from critical injury-induced coma (also thanks to hypnotism) and murders her best friend (also thanks to hypnotism) while Hajime is presumably killed by the random forensics team member who works for Rei (who didn't even exist until a couple pages from the end of the final chapter). For extra unnecessary stupidity, Rei isn't even actually crippled (she was faking it, which means not only is her attempted suicide story a lie, but her big reveal regarding her parents' attempted triple suicide was in a way a lie as well).

Put simply, this is just bad writing, and a cop-out of all the mystery and suspense they had tried to build. If Rei and the hypnotism had been absent and Mitsuki was the true mastermind, then I could forgive the story for simply being mediocre and using cheap tricks to build suspense. But bringing fake, contradictory superpowers into an otherwise-realistic story smacks of tryhard and deus-ex-machina.

-

Now for a quick explanation of scorings.

Story is a simple 4/10. The plot, in everything from the setup all the way through the conclusion, followed the established normal formula, which normally would earn the default median score of either a 5 or a 6, depending on the execution of the particular work. The execution here was overall nothing special, which would normally earn a score of 5. However, I detracted an additional point for plot holes and internal contradictions. The reason I didn't detract more is that despite the severity of these issues, they ultimately didn't effect the greater story all that much; when all's said and done, it's a generic Death Game story with a generic Death Game ending.

Art is a well-deserved 7/10. The clean and simple character designs contrasted nicely with the dark and gritty setting. The panels are rich with detail that can be seen in everything from cracked walls to stitched rabbit masks to bleeding wounds. There's no unnecessary censorship, nor is there unnecessary gore. Lighting is used effectively to intensify the creepiness of some scenes. Finally, "camera angles" are well-done to provide alternate perspectives to different scenes for additional impact, such as showing a masked Mitsuki lurking behind the bathroom door. My one complaint - and this is just style over substance - is that the color pages gave Rei blue hair, which feels excessive and unnecessarily in an otherwise realistic-feeling visual world.

Characters is a self-explanatory 5/10. None of them wowed or impressed me, but none of them were particularly bad either. Each played their respective roles with zero depth or development. None of them were grating and none were truly unnecessary, but none were memorable either. If they had been bland but likable they might have earned a 6, but ultimately I couldn't find it in myself to care about any of them.

Overall score is a 5/10. Based on averages it would be a 5.3 (and I round), and it was neither enjoyable enough nor unenjoyable enough to influence that score a point in either direction.

4/10 story
7/10 art
5/10 characters
5/10 overall
NicoNicoDesu's avatar
Oct 29, 2012

I am mildly depressed right now—I was (stupidly) working on my review without saving it or anything when I clicked the wrong button and lost it. I will try to forget that I am pretty mad right now and will try to create a coherent review.

Story: There’s a new game going around called “Rabbit Doubt.” It’s basically the same thing as the card game Mafia, except that a wolf replaces the mafia. The rabbits choose to hang one rabbit within their group. If the hanged rabbit is actually the wolf in disguise, they survive! If it’s just an innocent rabbit… yeah… “Dead-o End-o.” Aizawa Yuu gets drawn into a real-life version of Rabbit Doubt with his friends and a famous TV psychic and a stoic guy. Let the blood start flowing and the doubt start building!

When I first read this (which was before I loved the horror genre), I thought the premise was original. Ha. Ha. Ha. High-stakes games manga, while being awesome by default, tend to blend together. X manga is a lot like Y manga, which is a lot like Z.

Plus, there is one glaring flaw of the manga—it relies heavily on plot twists. This could be good, certainly, but it seems like each twist is more forced than the last. This leads up to the ridiculous ending, which is almost entertainingly stupid.

Art: I’m award that many people like “idealized” manga—pretty girls and cute boys. This manga is perfect for you guys. Not to say I’m different (I think we all know how much of a sucker for bishies I am), but it is a little unoriginal. I don’t need to find this manga to get that. Another point about the art is that it managed to find a nice “middle ground.” It isn’t “Battle Royale,” a series in which every bone, intestine and brain is shown in gory, explicit detail. On the other hand, it doesn’t shy away from blood. It also steers clear of any “Higurashi-” or “Ibitsu”-style torture scenes. If you want to read dark horror manga but are squeamish, this manga may float your boat.

Characters: This is a short read, so if you demand your manga has backstories and development, you should probably look elsewhere.

Characters: Boy in profile: Komaba Hajime; boy with black hair and jacket: Aikawa Yuu; blonde girl: Akechi Haruka; boy with silver hair: Hoshi Eiji; girl with rabbit head on lap: Hazama Rei; girl with brown hair: Houyama Mitsuki.

Komaba Hajime: He is not one of the initial main characters, but his importance increases as the series progresses. I’m going to try to compare him to Ootori Kyoya: He’s smart, wears glasses, is rather reserved, and is the voice of reason (kind of…). Fine, so he probably doesn’t run a host club, but that’s beside the point.

Aikawa Yuu: He is like any other shounen hero in that he tries to protect his friends while also saving everyone else. While he is a stock character (so is everyone else in this series), his perseverance is a little touching.

Akechi Haruka: I’m not going to lie—I really don’t care for her as a character. She’s manipulative, inconsiderate and one of those “I’m here because of my chest” characters. Due to her role, however, she is a necessary character. (Due to BOTH of her roles.)

Hoshi Eiji: He doesn’t appear that often, especially considering the fact that he is a main character. A rather generic bad boy, he separates himself from the rest of the entire leather jacket-wearing crowd by being mildly paranoid. He’s a little weird.

Hazama Rei: If you are like I was when I first read this manga, the beginning will surprise you. It’s not a big spoiler to say she dies before anything has a chance to happen. However, it IS a spoiler to continue, so I will stay mum.

Houyama Mitsuki: She’s the friend/love interest of our main character of all main characters, Aikawa Yuu. Her relationship with him doesn’t amount to much until way later in the series, and that is so abrupt it’s almost jarring. Other than that and a laughable plot twist, she is useless.

Overall: It’s as cliché and unoriginal as a series can get, but it’s fun. Well, except for the irritating female characters (*flips table*). Other than that, read expecting to be either kept on your toes or predicting every twist from a mile away, but don’t expect a quality work.

5.5/10 story
5.5/10 art
4.5/10 characters
5/10 overall
VacuumTan's avatar
May 11, 2013

I hadn't read this Manga before but I had heard some pretty good stuff about it. Some people told me how suspenseful and thrilling this whole story was, so I was freaking pumped when I bought it almost a year ago.

I pretty much sucked up the four volumes in no time, and damn, was I

disappointed.

Yeah, you heard me right. Maybe people got my expectations up, but to me, Doubt will forever remain a barely mediocre little story. I expected genius writing, endless gore and blow-your-mind revelations. But I didn't really find either of that to a greater extent. Yet I don't want to sound like I was hating, so...

ABOUT THE STORY:

  • The lighthearted feeling in the beginning that the author had been aiming for seemed somewhat half-assed. Especially when putting cover art like that at the front of the volume. It will make the reader grow suspicious and takes away a lot of the possible shocking appeal. Think of Higurashi, for example. After two episodes you know how it works, but it still punches you in the gut with a lot of gore when the cheery beginning is over.
  • So they are knocked out and thrown into an empty place and are forced to play a game that apparently includes killing off some of the others.... Well, that sure does ring some bells.
  • The weariness aimed at one another doesn't really feel like it does make sense. I'm not sure, but maybe putting someone else's perspective in would've made it clearer and the characters would seem to have more logically explainable emotions.
  • Also, the final reveal... well, I didn't think of it, but it wasn't exactly shocking or anything. "dafuq did i just read." Sums it up nicely.
  • And the way it ends... it's the kind of thing you can pull in a horror-game, but not like that. You need some jumpscare-sfx for that.

ABOUT THE CHARACTERS:

  • They all pick up some sort of cliché. And, while some Manga can pull even that off, Doubt just has clichéed characters.
  • YU: The typical protagonist that doesn't get anything but still makes it, somehow. The fact that he's the one missing... a certain something... doesn't make it better. Neither does the fact that he's the main love-interest's love-interest.
  • MITSUKI: The typical damsel in distress, the fighter for love and justice, Heart Aino and Bang Shishigami's forbidden love-child- that's what Mitsuki is. Well, until everything goes down. But even so, she's just that plain.
  • HARUKA: The sexy onee-chan that messes with Yu's hormones. She's only there because TEEEEETS.
  • EIJI: The high school delinquent. Smoking and drinking, really.
  • REI: She doesn't exactly fit a single cilché. It's more like she's a mixture of a few. A crippled psychic and an adorable distant loli. Until everything goes down. But even then, she's still kind of... predictable.
  • HAJIME: Mysterious older megane with a pretty face and doubtful reasoning and background.

ABOUT THE ART:

  • It's decent, overall. I'll just put a few cons below.
  • The faces are sometimes entirely off. Like, seriously. The mouths go anywhere and the eyes travel up and down. Also, some expressions aren't as expressive as one might want them to be.
  • Physics. No, you can't keep up a limp body by just driving a stake through each hand and the chest. Unless you impale the person's chest so hard that the stake goes through and you can still dig it 20cm into the wall. Then maybe it won't go floppy-floppy.
  • When Hajime first appears he is, if you pay attention to where his behind is, sitting INSIDE the wall. Or above the floor. Your choice.
  • Sometimes, the blood splatters are kind of awkward. Especially below girls. I mean... yeah.
  • Something that really is anticlimatic is that the backgrounds aren't dark and elaborate enough. It's one of the most important things to get the atmosphere right. Even in an empty room the walls have to be dark and the ceiling and floor need to be detailed enough to see each and every crack.
  • Spaghetti-anatomy or suddenly becoming fat. It happens frequently when the character is not the main person in the picture. And sometimes even then. But that can be forgiven easily.

Doubt is labeled 16+ in Germany. I don't see why.

Where is the gore that you promised me? Where is the stomach-turning story?

I've seen a lot better, but I've also seen worse.

Final rating: Meh.

4/10 story
7/10 art
5/10 characters
6/10 overall
Melodux's avatar
May 8, 2013

Rabbit Doubt {“Doubt” for short} is a murder-mystery story telling of a mobile horror game becoming reality. Six young adults deal with their past mistakes while trying to survive and find the “wolf.”

A bit about the game Rabbit Doubt: players are rabbits, and one player is a wolf in disguise. The wolf goes around and kills the rabbits, the other players goal is to find out who the wolf is before it kills all of the rabbits. If the rabbits hang the wolf, the rabbits win. If all other rabbits are dead, the wolf wins.

Story: 9/10

The story of Doubt is short and sweet. The length was just long enough to get all points and plot twists across. The twists keep you guessing on who the wolf is, and that alone is enough to keep readers engrossed. The little things mentioned by the characters end up leading to something bigger, which I like. You have to pay attention and keep a tab of all the clues handed to you. I thought the ending was only slightly predicable. But I suppose everyone will come up with their own conclusions.

Art 9/10

The art for Doubt is good enough for an anime. The front cover of it almost looks exactly like an anime. The art gets a little mundane after a while, there are no beautiful-looking panels or pages, and I think the artist was fully capable of creating more than one. I was so enthralled with the story, and reading, that one of the panels had actually scared me and I jumped. The characters were very distinguishable, even when you were only looking at parts, though I wish there was a little more detail added to the landscape.

Characters: 7/10

The characters in Doubt were pretty stock characters; there was the outcast, the hot popular girl… But what really made the characters was their dirty little secrets that were revealed, and made you see the characters in a different light. They were all written well to their parts, too. The stock personality traits added to the mystery of the story by giving motives or lack thereof. The only gripe that I have about this is that there was no development in any of the characters. The characters at the end didn’t have any revelation, or change in their ways. But I suppose I’ll let this one slide, because any big change in the characters would have either skewed or unnecessarily elongated the story.

Overall: 8/10

The beginning is quite reminiscent of the Saw series. And if you’re looking for something similar to that, then this manga is for you. Although the characters are a little cliché, the short, suspenseful manga is highly recommended by me. Even if you’re not hooked within the first few chapters, I say stick with it, because it only gets better. If you’re concerned about the gore level. There’s some, but it’s not so explicit that you can’t look at it. It’s classic, Japanese gore.

9/10 story
9/10 art
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
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