Sophie (alias_sqbr) wrote,
Sophie
alias_sqbr

Yuureitou/The Ghost Tower

So this manga is a TRIP.

It's a gothic mystery/horror/romance set in 1950s Japan about an (arguably non-binary(*)) sad loser, Taichi, who gets dragged into a Mysterious Treasure Hunt in an Old Tower Full of Deadly Traps by Tetsuo, a cool and sexy trans man with Secrets. It has a whole bunch of queer characters, written with a lot of complexity and compassion.

It's also incredibly violent, has All The Triggers, and is really, really into contrasts between gender/body/presentation, especially ogling Tesuo's breasts (but also the cis women's breasts). It's a big mess of psychosexual gender issues, and the treatment of characters who are feminine and/or afab is...patchy, especially the Very Unfortunate Trans Woman.

Also the plot is increasingly batshit ridiculous, including a bunch of stuff I generally dislike, like it starts with an Implausibly Deadly Treasure Hunt and Bizarre Serial Killer and things just escalate from there.

But I also quite enjoyed it?? It's exciting, with lots of twists and turns, and also has that thing some horror has of just...finding peace and compassion in the grotesque, where everyone is a gross weirdo covered in (literal or metaphorical) blood and it doesn't judge. A lot of people suffer and die, but there's connection and kindness and happiness too, even between people who have done horrible things to each other. And while the treatment of the queer characters is certainly not Ideal, they get to be real complex people, and their sense of themselves is respected. Like, at one point Tetsuo has to wear a dress, and this is 100% drawn as sexy, but also as a horrifying violation. (I mostly found the art ugly and unsexy, but it's not subtle in it's aims) And Taichi is also forced to dress as a woman (which he finds way less violating than he expected, though he does experience some harsh lessons about sexism in 1950s Japan) and you get mild cheesecake chapter art of him like this.

The treatment of disability, when it comes up, is similar: the disabled chareacters are kinda freaky and horrific, but everyone's kinda freaky and horrific. People do go Violently Crazy, and it's not actively trying to talk about disability the way it is queerness, but it doesn't feel as ableist as a lot of horror.

And like...it's not really a story about being queer, it's a Tropey Adventure where a bunch of the characters happen to be queer. And that's rare.

So yeah. I saw a rec for this years ago, when it ended, and thought "I bet I'd enjoy that but only if I was in EXACTLY the right headspace", and happened to be reminded of it by torachan's review and sat down and read pretty much the whole thing in one sitting.

(*)This is less unambiguous than the binary trans characters, but it feels like that's just because people from the 1950s had nothing approaching a concept of what being non-binary would even mean. He's unambiguously not a straightforward cis man.

Spoilery content details/warnings and reactions under the cut.

****SPOILERS****

Content notes: underage incestuous sexual assault (and all of those separately), sexualised violence, just a lot of violence in general, people becoming Crazy and Violent, Trans Woman Twisted By Desire To Be A Woman, so much transphobia and homophobia, the one gay dude is kinda misogynistic and also into teen boys, did I mention how much the art is into Tetsuo's boobs, how are they even so perky after years of binding, I was warned but still not ready, I know there was other stuff, it's a Lot.


****EVEN MORE VERY MAJOR SPOILERS****

How I described it to a friend as I was reading (when I hadn't fully realised Taichi was non binary yet)

I mean it's thriller/horror/romance
seinen, very male gazey in parts
but also the central romance is cis man/trans man
with the trans man very definitely a man
also the cis male protag spends a lot of the manga crossdressing as a woman
and gets sexually harassed by the (as it turns out trans woman but as far as he knows at the time male) villain
also it's incredibly violent

Friend: this sounds... like a lot

Me: IT IS
A LOT
it's set in the 50s so there's like
korean communists
war angst
weird rich people with family murder pacts (entirely unrelated to the main murders)
right now the villain is trying to convince the trans man to do a brain transplant with her so they both get the body they want
but suggesting they have sex first to be as one
and has not mentioned that the reason she thinks the surgery will work
is she is actually his biological father

but you also get cool moments like this http://www.mangareader.net/yuureitou/61/13
that's the crossdressing protag
a gay policeman
and the villain's adopted daughter
in an underground death maze
searching for hidden treasure

WAIT IT ENDED ON THE BRAIN TRANSPLANT QUESTION AS A CLIFFHANGER??
I THOUGHT THE MANGA WAS FINISHED

Friend: but did they have sex?

Me: I DON'T KNOW
probably not
it would be too creepy even for this manga

Friend: would it though

Me: I guess working past having slept with your own biological parent WOULD fit with the themes of coming to terms with ones own monstrousness and moving past it

*consults TV Tropes*

yeah looks like the villain dies in the arms of the corpse of the woman she loved
and "attempted" to have sex with her son

found a translation!

son eventually decides not to do the sex or brainswap with mum, they have some VERY ODD family bonding about the things they do and don't have in common and son escapes with protag, evil mum's adopted daughter, and a policeman with a gun for an arm

protag and dude have a conversation that basically boils down to dude saying it's a pity you're not a girl and protag saying uh I...kinda could be a girl >.>
and they kiss
while hoping for a better, more open minded tomorrow
the end

Also: Looks like the villain doesn't necessarily actually die, but was just last seen wounded, hugging a corpse, and acting kinda suicidal. So it's not an unwarranted interpretation.

Anyway, yeah. IT IS. A LOT. This entry was originally posted at https://alias-sqbr.dreamwidth.org/799272.html. There are comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: manga, rec, review
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