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 façade 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 for himself.
When Morino nonchalantly asks him to teach her how he 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 the 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 Shonen 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 the manga and novel. The manga and novel are available in English from Tokyopop, 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 related episodic stories not always directly related to each other — 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.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Itsuki appreciates a well-crafted dismemberment.
- Big Damn Heroes: Kamiyama's final rescue of Morino.
- Buried Alive: The third killer's favorite murder method.
- Color Motif: With the one exception of her dressing up like one of the cafe manager's victims, Morino wears black as often as possible. She started doing this after taking the identity of her dead sister, who also wore black.
- Dead Person Impersonation: At one point, Morino wears a murder victim's clothes and assumes her personality to re-enact how she died.
- Evil Counterpart: Takami is this to Kamiyama. Both are sociopathic high school students with a taste for murder, obsessed with Morino, and strangely similar in appearance.
- Fan Disservice: Let's just say that Morino tied up with her boobs exposed is hot, if it wasn't due the fact that she's about to be horribly killed with a knife.
- Faux Affably Evil: Kamiyama is friendly and accomodating with everyone he meets, but his narration makes it clear that there's not an ounce of sincerity in any of it.
- 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 eyes plucked out and resting in her hands, her stomach cut open and her head cut off and stuffed inside.
- Graceful Loser: At least one killer reacts to Itsuki's "Gotcha" with rueful admission of guilt. But he isn't determined to bring them to justice.
- He-Man Woman Hater: The cafe manager believes all women are unrepentant sinners who deserve to die and horrifically cuts them apart while accusing them of being inherently guilty people.
- Kick the Dog: In the novel, literally, by a jerkass stepfather. It doesn't end well for him.
- 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."
- Monster of the Week: Each chapter deals with Kamiyama and Morino hunting down a different killer, save the last two chapters, which are connected:
- In the first chapter, "Wristcut", the villain is their teacher, Shinohara, who cuts off peoples' hands out of an obsession and recently murdered a celebrity while taking her hands.
- The second chapter, "Goth", has a Serial Killer who gruesomely dismembers women and keeps a record of his kills in a journal.
- "Grave" has Saeki, a man who feels guilty for his crimes but finds himself compulsively needing to bury people alive to listen to them die.
- The final two chapters, "Twins I" and "Twins II", have Takami, a student who is obsessed with Morino and wants to kill her.
- Motifs; In the manga:
- My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Subverted. Yoru carries her twin sister's identity In Name Only.
- 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. Maybe."When you want to die... I'll kill you."
- Pet the Dog: Kamiyama routinely coming to Morino's rescue may be this, if it's not the above trope.
- Playing to the Fetishes: If the Nightmare Fetishism doesn't get you, this manga cover page of Morino will.
- Scars are Forever: Morino's wrists, several times due her living with guilt.
- Serial Killer: Although all of the villains are responsible for a death or two, the only one to fit the description is the cafe manager. Murdering women out of misogynistic hatred, he's dismembered at least three people with no indication of stopping his violent rampage.
- Sociopathic Hero: Kamiyama is not a good person by any means. He's an emotionally disturbed nutcase who hides his insanity under fake smiles, and the very first thing he attempts to do to Morino is trick a hand-stealing murderer into attempting to chop her hands off by planting evidence in the murderer's house. Regardless, the fact remains Kamiyama routinely exposes killers far worse than him (albeit not at all because he actually wants to see them brought to justice—he even lets a few escape) and gradually becomes a bit nicer to Morino the longer they know each other.
- 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 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 in the story about the dog; a Twist Ending results.
- Wasted Beauty: Most of the guys in Kamiyama's class agree that Morino's Raven Hair, Ivory Skin looks great, but her aloof, distant personality and the questionable scar on her wrist ensures that only dangerous criminals and murderers take interest in her.
- 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.