Kei Sanbe, the creator of supernatural thrillers such as Erased and For The Kid I Saw In My Dreams, is back with a gripping new manga series.
As a fan of the mangaka’s other works, I’ve been looking forward to a new hair-raising adventure from this master of suspense. So, let’s dive right into my review of volume one of Island in a Puddle.
Minato and his little sister Nagisa live in a tiny apartment and struggle to get by on the meager amounts of cash that their single mother leaves them before disappearing for day or weeks at a time. Minato recognizes that this is child neglect, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. Not wanting to be separated from his mother for good, he keeps quiet about the situation and does his best to care for Nagisa himself.
When their mother reappears after having been gone for an especially long time, Nagisa is overjoyed and the three enjoy magical day at a theme park – before their mother once again hands Minato a chunk of money and vanishes into the crowd.
That moment is when things go from bad to unimaginably worse for Minato. A freak lightening strike hits the Ferris wheel he and Nagisa are on and this causes his consciousness to be swapped with that of a man riding in a different car on the ride. A man who’s just committed a murder in that very car!
Supernatural shenanigans are par for the course for a Kei Sanbe manga. Erased had time travel and For the Kid I Saw in My Dreams featured twins with a psychic connection. That said, I think this body swap gimmick might just be the most out there plotline I’ve seen from Sanbe! I was pretty shocked when it happened, as the descriptions of the story I’d read hadn’t revealed this particular twist.
The body switch leaves Minato in a terrible situation. He’s in a ferris wheel car with a dead body and stuck in the body of the man who killed her. He doesn’t have any time to process the insanity of what’s happened to him, however. If Minato wants to avoid going to jail, he’ll need to think fast and come up with a plan for what to do with the body before it’s time to get off the ride!
From that point on, Island in a Puddle delivers a riveting drama, as Minato struggles to avoid the law and get back to his sister, who has no idea that a wanted criminal is currently inhabiting her brother’s body.
The tension builds steadily as we switch between Minato’s perspective, as he freaks out over the dead body and grows more scared for his sister, and the killers perspective, as he contemplates his next move now that he’s apparently been handed a way to make a clean getaway. We’ve seen just how ruthless he is, and there’s no doubt that he would hurt Nagisa if it benefited him. It’s a race against time to see if Minato can get his sister away from this murderer and find a way to get his body back, all before he’s caught by the police and it’s too late.
Island in a Puddle was hard to put down and had me on edge from the moment that lightening bolt struck. I just had to know what was going to happen next and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series. My only real criticism is that Minato seemed a little too clever and quick to adapt to be believable. I think most adults, let alone children, would have been too confused and shocked to think straight when confronted with something as mind-boggling as a body swap. But kids being smarter and more mature than they should be is also kind of a Sanbe staple, so it didn’t bother me too much. Besides, we wouldn’t have much of a story if Minato lost it and got caught right away, now would we?
If you’re a fan of Erased or are looking for an exciting thriller, Island in a Puddle is worth a read. Everything seems to be stacked against our hero and I for one am eager to see how he’ll manage to outmaneuver the crafty killer and get his life back!
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Kodansha USA’s website.
What did you think of this manga? What Kei Sanbe series is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!
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