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NOiSE by Tsutomu Nihei
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"As detective Musubi Susono investigates a series of child kidnappings, her own partner is viciously murdered. But when the investigation takes a brutal turn, she is suddenly confronted by the killer--and his vicious Silicon Creature... "-- Cover, p. [4].

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Tsutomu Nihei's eerily beautiful "Noise" is haunting and confounding in all the right ways. The already-thin tankoban is filled-out with a teaser chapter from [b:Blame|32321|Blame!, Vol. 1|Tsutomu Nihei|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1168388378s/32321.jpg|32513], so this one-shot is even shorter than it first appears. Fortunately, it's bigger on the inside.

Opening with a nod to Ghost in the Shell, it segues gracefully into Gungrave territory, then ends up in a place wholly its own (though with shades of Miyazaki). If one can compare paint to type (both artist ink, captured and recast with unclear fidelity), Noise felt reminiscent of Patricia McKillip's poetic blend of linguistic artifice: in turns unerringly precise, engraving a single unforgettable image into the mind's eye; then swiftly retreating into mist-shrouded ambiguity, drawing the reader after to fill the swirling void with nightmare details drawn from our own uniquely fevered imaginings.

That said, any literary comparisons must heft emotional weight and subtext alone, for in Noise, there are no words; precious few, anyway. One could string together all the dialog and narration from this slim volume and fit it into a single Danielewski footnote. The story is told almost exclusively through pictures; and as Scott McCloud would tell us, within the infinitely deeper gaps between.

Potentially trite manga boxes provide an unusually apropos framing metaphor for this tale of urban decay, as the visual backdrop throughout is one of misshapen architectural ambition gone awry. Lucas and Disney villains (now morbidly inbred) should tread with care, as unfathomable gulfs and ineffable chasms abound in this parallax world of concrete and steel immensities, where stories pile high in discordant gothic tiers. The ubiquitous sense of looming Brobdingnagian scale, referenced and incremented on nearly every sheaf, is not limited to space alone: time itself folds within these short pages.

I'm not sure what the title was intended to disclose, but I found it an evocative hint to Nihei's consistently gorgeous art. Working daily with optical spectra and other instrumented data, I am well-acquainted with the concept of "noise": ill-defined minutiae wrapping and obscuring signal, quasi-detail with equal parts random draw and content echo, hinting at levels of granularity just beyond your perception to resolve.

There is something of noise in Nihei's finely inked hallways and infinitely receding cityscapes, the creatures who stalk his cavernous galleries and towering stairways. Coarsely hatched fractal outlines, inner contours left to the interpretive mind to recurse and endlessly devolve, imply additional wealths of detail beyond the printer's art. This visual noise complements the consistent theme of scale, which dial spins both ways. ( )
  mzieg | Apr 1, 2013 |
The self-contained nature results in less filler, with the plot feeling more important to the actual volume than in BLAME!. On the other hand, the plot doesn't feel like it really leads anywhere or adds much, and is ultimately unsatisfying. ( )
  g026r | Oct 22, 2009 |
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Tsutomu Nihei’s grotesque, often terrifying visuals carry the action-driven story.
 
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