Minetaro Mochizuki’s suspenseful survival drama Dragon Head (Tokyopop) has been strong since its debut, but I think it improves markedly with the fifth volume. After four installments of escalating suspense, Michizuki takes time to explore the psychology of his characters and the philosophical issues surrounding their circumstances. The tension doesn’t abate so much as it deepens with the additional development of character.
It isn’t as if Mochizuki has been neglecting these aspects of the story up until now, but he hasn’t addressed it with this degree of directness. I find myself more invested as a result. If you’ve been resisting Dragon Head because of a perceived emphasis on action melodrama over more substantial story elements, you might reconsider. (If you’re avoiding it because of a distaste for graphic violence, you’re still making the right choice.)
(Spoilers for the fifth volume from this point forward.)