Manga Review: Dolls by Yumiko Kawahara

What if Lestat was a shop owner?
In Dolls, you can pretend our much beloved vamp owns a doll shop. Only instead of terrifying you by sucking your blood, he does it by selling you evil dolls.

This is a manga full of short tales about a doll shop owner and his beautiful “plant dolls”. The artist creates a haunting atmosphere  accompanied by the intricate lacing and curls of the dolls. At times, the doll renderings are so lifelike, you might feel like one of the clients, tricked or lured into buying a doll you cannot afford.

In the first installment, Milk at Mealtimes, you might think you’re reading a fan comic of Lestat, Louis, and Claudia. However, although the characters look like our favorite trio, they act quite different. A man is lured into the shop by the dolls beauty. He is conned into purchasing her by the shop owner and finds his doll has been spoiled by a previous owner. She will only sleep on luxury sheets, drink from the finest china, and eat premium sweets.

Doll’s care instructions:
Milk three times a day
Sugar cookies once a week
Change into fresh clothes daily.
No direct sunlight.
Nothing more that milk & sugar cookies.
Lots of love from owner.

As the weeks wear on and the owner realizes he can not make the doll content with what he has, he begins feeding her brandy. A few months later, we see the owner poor, destitute and the doll fat and spoiled.

These cautionary tales must come from some desire to teach businessmen a lesson, for in each one there is a horrible outcome when the doll enters their homes. One man buys a plant doll for his daughter and they become so close, he cannot tell them apart. He ends up giving his daughter away instead of the doll. Another story tells of a greedy jeweler who wishes for a special gem that is only created from the tears of a certain doll. Unfortunately, he ends up going mad because he is unable to make her cry. There is another tale of an artist who will not paint people because everyone he paints, dies. I’ll let you find out what trickery the dolls have in store for him!

This manga reminds me of the old Twilight Zone episode, "The After Hours", where all the mannequins come alive in the store after dark. While reading, you will feel as if you are in a store with wall-to wall dolls… and as you turn to go, you could swear one of them reached to strangle you!

Beware of the Dolls.