I love anime and manga and Japanese live action movies, but I've seen too much and grown too old for endless shonen fighting action or high school love polygons or pre-teen girls with magic powers. I know all the tropes and cliches, and I knew a world before there was Pokemon. I have grown up and so have my tastes.
So it takes a special kind of story to hold my interest.
Soil is a creepy little mystery that takes place in Soil New Town, a prefab suburban community. An entire family of three has disappeared from this seemingly idyllic little town, and in their place are pillars of salt and a hamster heart.
Two detectives care called in to investigate: Yokoi, an extremely disgusting and sexist veteran, and Onoda, a nerdy and uptight rookie trying to make it in a man's world.
Was it the creepy old homeless cat lady? Was it the sullen loner teenage boy? Was it the eccentric new teacher? Was it aliens, like the kids seem to think? Was it the evasive council president? Or was it something more ancient and sinister? What we do know is that there is something cosmically wrong with the land on which Soil was built.
Answers take some time, but it's fun to see the layers slowly, painfully pulled back to see the grime and ugliness beneath the surface, like rotting wood under fresh wallpaper. It has a lot of elements in common with Twin Peaks and the X-files episode "Arcadia," and the art looks more like Adrian Tomine or Daniel Clowes (clean, solid lines with very little screentone) than what you would expect out of Japan.
Sadly, there is no official English language release yet (I'm looking at you, Vertical), but there is an ongoing fan translation.