Hisashi Sawamura, a 32-year-old police sergeant whose wife and son left him because he was such a workaholic, is called in to investigate a series of gruesome, elaborate murders: victims slowly cut to pieces, frozen in ice, eaten alive by dogs. Long before Sawamura finds his first suspect, the reader sees that the mystery killer is a man in a frog mask whose murders seem to be poetic justice for sins committed by the victims … but could any crimes possibly justify these horrific deaths? Gradually, Sawamura and his assistant Nishino discover a common thread between the victims, leading back to a high-profile murder trial for what may have been the beginning of a rampage…
Gross deaths plus clever investigative work can make a good detective story—an angsty background for the hero is just a bonus—so it’s a shame Museum doesn’t really succeed on any of these fronts. The plot relies on coincidences and clichés (minor example: the scene when the serial killer is right there in the café while the detective is eating!!), while the deaths aren’t particularly meaningful or clever, just gross, with a humorless adolescent sadism.
Better art might have made the gore memorable, but the merely functional seinen manga artwork never reaches the cringe-inducing heights of, say, Shou Tajima’s work on MPD Psycho … plus, how seriously can you take a serial killer in a frog mask?
The translation is at times weak, with a few peculiar artifacts, such as the mother and child blithely wearing shirts saying “Cunnilingus” and “Fellatio,” clearly a cheap joke in the original Japanese version that should have been removed in the English. Best line: “Don’t screw with me, you frog-faced f***!”
story and art: Ryosuke Tomoe