To say that Husband Seiichi and Wife Miki have an unhappy life together would be putting it lightly. Since their son - Ju - tragically died, each has blamed the other for his death. We join them as they are attempting to make amends by way of a holiday together on an island resort. The tension between them is palpable as Miki really can’t bring herself to be nice towards her husband.
However, little does Miki know, that Seiichi has other plans for her. It is on this island that he plans to murder her and bury her body in the island’s forest area. He just can’t take her incessant blaming of him for their son’s death anymore. But things take a drastic turn when he manages to fail at this attempted murder. This is then subsequently followed by him chasing after her into a nearby cave.
Soon after entering they are attacked and chased deeper within and down into an old war bunker where a beast-like older man makes his home, and his family. This twisted idea of family life is repulsive and scary to Seiichi. However, the longer he spends amongst these dwellers, the more he perhaps finds this to be the kind of family unit he was missing.
In this cave, their fates become sealed forever - from which neither of them will ever be the same again.
The first thing I noticed about the Hideout Manga was the level of detail that the artist and writer, Masasumi Kakizaki, had put into each and every panel of the story. It’s a level of detail that really helps drive home every sharp edge of the cave. I got a feeling that each and every crevasse was painstakingly crafted right there on the pages.
Set in contrast to those caves, are the scenes in which we see the events leading to the troubled present. Whereas the present-day cave scenes are predictably dark and morbid, the flashbacks are set against a much fairer palette. These lighter panels give Hideout a good pacing. My eyes never got tired of having to look at the darkness of the caves. It felt perfectly edited to drive the story forwards without losing its dark momentum.
Interestingly too, was how the artist decided to draw Ju as a baby. Whereas the whole manga is drawn as you would expect, the full-page image of Ju as a newborn is drawn in a more classically shaded style. This gave the impression that the only real innocent one in this story is Ju.
I found it interesting that the author, Masasumi Kakizaki, chose a cold, dark cave in which to explore the story between this once-happy couple. It felt as though the cave was a metaphor for that very marriage that itself had become dark and uninviting.
Early on I felt certain that the wife was the bad person and the Husband was our hero. Well, except for the whole attempted murder thing. However, what I found most intriguing was the fact that neither of them are, or become, the good one between them. Instead, we see just how bad they each become as by the end of the story they both have sins to pay for. Of course they each believe they are the one in the right, but the fact is, is that they’ll both have blood on their hands.
Hideout is a Horror Manga that deals with the dark premise of losing a child. However, despite this, and the subsequent descent into what feels like a path into hell, the story felt very balanced overall. Don’t be expecting too much of a happy ending where everything is all sunshine and smiles by the end. Some characters do get what they want, but it’s just at what cost it takes to get it.
Depending on what perspective you take, some people may find happy endings in Hideout. But from an outsider looking in, this is a grim - but powerful and absorbing - tale of families and their loss.