Domu: A Child's Dream

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Domu: A Child's Dream is a 1980 manga written by Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame.

Already in the year 1979, there have been a staggering 31 suicides by people in the same apartment complex. The tally is brought to 32 with the death of a supermarket manager. Once again, inspectors Yamagawa and Tamura have to investigate another frustrating case. Once Yamagawa also commits suicide, it's up to Tamura to solve exactly what is going on.

Meanwhile, little Etsuko moves into the apartment complex. Her own psychic powers match those of Old Cho, the man who is behind all of the deaths. The story continues with one final battle.

This story won the 1983 Japan Science Fiction Grand Prix after being re-released into Graphic Novel form. Supposedly, Guillermo del Toro has the rights to make a film adaptation, but interest in the project has not surfaced since the late 1990s.

Tropes used in Domu: A Child's Dream include:
  • The Alcoholic: Hiroshi's dad.
  • Little Miss Badass: Etsuko, combined with Plucky Girl.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted to your own interpretation.
  • Collector of the Strange: Old Cho collects little trinkets as trophies from each person he kills.
  • Cultural Translation: One child sings the first Super Sentai theme song to himself. This is changed to "Go, go Power Rangers!". The manga was written in the late seventies but not translated until the nineties, so at least the reference had a reasonable equivalent.
  • Dumb Muscle: Little Jou is mentally retarded, but so strong that he can rip Sasaki in half in a rage.
  • Even Better Sequel: Essentially. The loosely connected manga stories involving psychic powers by Otomo kept increasing in quality as time went on. First was a largely forgettable short story about the cops seen in this manga. That was followed by this, beautifully illustrated and written. Then came the classic Akira, revolving around the government's attempts to copy the powers seen in this story for their own ends.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: One of the policemen who arrives at the scenes of the apparent "suicides" remarks that it's far gorier than it should be, and another mentions that he's never eating spaghetti again. We have to take their word for it. Completely averted when Tsutomo kills himself with a utility knife, though.
  • Hair Decorations: Apparently even Otomo isn't immune to this trope. Etsuko holds her curly hair back with two little barrettes.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Why the police force is so frustrated. They discover that the door to the roof hasn't been used in years and is rusted shut. How could they have gotten up?
  • Otaku: Tsutomo has been trying to get into college but can't because he is too obsessed with making model planes.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Etsuko for the last half of the manga.
  • Psychic Powers
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Old Cho.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The policemen see Old Cho's room filled so with little trinkets of the deceased you can hardly walk in it.