4 out of 5
I think this is technically probably not a great comic. I mean, when you’re referring to relevant events that are happening off-panel, that’s probably not great; when major plot revelations come as offhand comments at the end of your comic, probably also not great. And when you completely stop everything for a nearly full page of text to explain the logic of what’s going on – and then still require some further clarifications beyond that – surely that’s a red flag.
If this is your first volume of Id: Invaded, you need to stop immediately and go back and start from the beginning. This is not the kind of manga you can pick up partway through and get the gist of a serial killer’s nightmare dreamscape of a highway with non-braking cars and the dream-walking detectives that hop through said ‘scape trying to decipher the specific in-universe murder that’s there, as it represents some key to the killings in the real world, and while you’re grappling with that, bear in mind that’s one of three such dreamscapes, and also there are double- and triple-crossings going on with the murder investigation in reality, and also also when you jump into the dreamscapes, you manifest as a character with a completely different name. I have occasionally questioned if my need to keep flipping back to previous pages (and other volumes) of Id: Invaded is due to my American brain not being great at keeping more (to me) complex Japanese names and terms straight, but I think even in native English, Brake-Broken would be a lot.
Also: it’s insanely fucking awesome, and maybe a little too smart for its audience’s good, but in exactly the kind of fun way that made the show a hoot as well.
And while this volume executes the sins listed above, it… works within the elevated tone of the narration, and artist Yuuki Kodama is to be commended for keeping up with the pace of it all. Yes, you should start with volume 1 (or, like, the anime), but this is also the kind of mind-warping batshitness that’s probably crazy enough to make a new reader keep turning pages in a quest of understanding, which will only send them scurrying off to those earlier entries anyway, so all’s well. I mean, even as someone who came in from the show, I think I’m going to start again from the top and see if I can sort this story out. The gist is clear, I’d say – bad guys caught, ending achieved – but volume 3 kicks things up an even further notch with an insane new wrinkle in Id Well abilities that makes me want to experience it all over again anyway.
I know I’m praising (?) the relative insanity of this tankobon, but writer Otaro Maijo has still maintained some of the emotional and psychological underpinnings of the show, even if Brake is more action-oriented overall. Sakaido’s closing thoughts, for example, and the way it sifts through its various characters’ motivations, are all food for thought.
To be clear: no, I didn’t understand this through and through, but I still felt – somehow – totally immersed in the reading, and was very satisfied by how this case wrapped up. An excellent addendum to the show, a solid conclusion to this particular storyline, and hopefully just a step towards another set of manga or another anime season.