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"She first caught my eye when I saw her white wrist peeking out from the edge of darkness. It was pale as porcelain… and the mark loomed out from it."
Itsuki Kamiyama is not an Ordinary High School Student. While he often appears cheerful, engaging, and interested in his fellow students, it is simply a facade to hide his true self. When he notices a beautiful, pale skinned girl with scars on her wrist named Yoru Morino, he quickly becomes obsessed... he wants her, but not in the way that a normal teenaged boy wants a girl. No, he wants to take her delicate hand... and keep it all for himself.
When Morino nonchalantly asks him to teach her how he so can so easily fake a smile, Kamiyama realizes that she can see right through him. Instantly the two become drawn to each other, sharing their obsession with the darkness that lurks just beneath the surface of society. Together they uncover some of the most cruel and gruesome acts committed by mankind, all the while facing ever present danger... not just from the killers they investigate, but also from that part of Kamiyama that still hungers for Morino's death.
Goth is a 2003 horror / mystery novel by Japanese writer Otsuichi that successfully blends Psychological Horror, Detective Literature, Slasher Movie, and Gorn. A Shounen (yes, really) Manga adapted from the novel by illustrator Kendi Oiwa was published in 2004 by Kadokawa Comics. In 2008 a live-action film adaptation was released, taking its direction from both the manga and the novel. The manga and novel are available in English from Tokyo Pop, and the movie has been released on DVD with English subtitles by Jolly Roger/Well Go USA.
Goth contains examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The novel is told through episodic stories not always directly related to one another--unsurprising, since it was originally serialized and then published in two separate collections before being combined in one book. The manga streamlines the narrative by removing plots without Kamiyama narrating and combining similar storylines, focusing more on Kamiyama and Morino's ambiguous relationship and giving greater weight to Morino as a character.
- Amateur Sleuth: Kamiyama has a keen eye for crime.
- Angsty Surviving Twin / Fake Twin Gambit
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Kamiyama does appreciate a well-crafted dismemberment.
- Big Damn Heroes / Big Damn Villains: Kamiyama's final rescue of Morino.
- Buried Alive: One serial killer's favorite murder method.
- The Chessmaster: Kamiyama.
- Contrived Coincidence: The fourth chapter of the manga. The girl just happens to have Yoru's pass?!
- Creepy Twins: Yoru and her sister.
- Dead Little Sister: Deconstructed, inverted, and played straight.
- Deadpan Snarker: Kamiyama.
- Designated Victim: Morino. Sometimes this is on purpose.
- Distressed Damsel: Deconstructed, subverted, invoked, and played straight.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Morino. The only blemishes on her perfect white skin are the scars on her wrists.
- First-Person Smartass: Kamiyama in the novel.
- Gorn: One chapter gives the reader the lovely visual of a decaying body of a woman who has been tied to a tree by her intestines, her head chopped off, her eyes plucked out and resting in her hands, her stomach cut open and the aforementioned head stuffed inside the hole.
- Graceful Loser: At least one killer reacts to Kamiyama's "Gotcha" with rueful admission of guilt. But then Kamiya isn't exactly determined to bring them to justice.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence
- Kick the Dog: In the novel, literally, by a Jerkass stepfather. It doesn't end well for him.
- Kid Detective: The creepy kind.
- Knife Nut: Kamiyama becomes one of these as the series progresses, taking his first set of knives from a serial killer he thwarted.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Morino is the closest thing Kamiyama has to one. Played with because he also longs to kill her...but would thereby lose his only "friend."
- Motifs: In the manga:
- Mystery Magnet: Morino, to the point of becoming Designated Victim. Kamiyama as well.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Both Kamiyama and Morino are drawn to investigate the sites of murders. Morino even went so far as to wear the clothes and temporarily assume the personality of a victim they found in the woods.
- No Name Given: In the novel, the male narrator only refers to himself as "Boku" ("I"). He's given the name Itsuki Kamiyama in the manga and film.
- The Only One Allowed To Dismember You: Kamiyama toward Morino. Probably.
"When you want to die...I'll kill you."
- Pet the Dog: Kamiyama routinely coming to Morino's rescue may be seen as this, if it's not the above trope. He's creepy as fuck either way though.
- Playing to The Fetishes: If the Nightmare Fetishism doesn't get you, the manga cover page of Morino in a ball gag will.
- Posthumous Character: Morino's sister.
- Scars Are Forever: Morino's wrists.
- Serial Killer: During their investigations, the male and female leads bump into several serial killers throughout the series, their encounters often being far too close for Morino's comfort.
- Serial Killer Stalker: Kamiyama feels professional curiosity about the murders he investigates.
- The Sociopath: Itsuki Kamiyama
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Kamiyama.
- Together in Death: A young man whose girlfriend is Buried Alive by Kamiyama's latest target follows him to the scene. The girl is found dead of a self-inflicted neck wound. It is only after the killer confesses that he notices the "other boy" is missing. The coffin containing the victim has been quietly reburied - and a soft whisper is audible through the air tube under the surface.
"I love you... forever... because we'll be together forever..."
- Unreliable Narrator: Kamiyama as a first-person narrator is pretty honest about being a liar. Furthermore, he doesn't appear to always understand his own motivations, especially where Morino is concerned. In the novel, the Unreliable Narrator is a major plot point the story about the dog; a Twist Ending results.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Subversion with Morino. And then a Double Subversion.
- Weirdness Magnet: Kamiyama and Morino. In the novel, Kamiyama's little sister has a history of stumbling upon corpses.
- You Bastard: Morino muses about how she and Kamiyama share a "ceaseless craving for darkness". Makes you think about why you're reading this manga in the first place. May overlap with Fridge Horror for some.