Itsuki Kamiyama is interested in murders; in fact, some might say he has an unhealthy fascination with mutilation and death. Despite the somewhat bizarre nature of his hobby, however, he is able to find a kindred spirit in classmate Yoru Morino. Drawn together by their shared interest in the darker impulses of the human soul, Kamiyama and Yoru investigate the extreme lengths that some will go to in order to satisfy their cravings…
As the writer of the original novel explains at the end, Goth is meant to follow a simple format- that of the heroine always being kidnapped by monsters (criminals in this case) and having to rely on her hero to come and save her. Nonetheless, the series takes quite a dark approach to this straightforward premise, creating a world of obsessions and fetishes to which not even the leads are immune.
In a change to the normal run of things, Goth’s hero is far from heroic. From the very first chapter, he becomes interested in Yoru simply because he desires her smooth white hands, whilst his love of murder is more of a fascination for the crime itself than any wish to see justice served- in fact, more often than not he lets the criminal go. Its unashamedly amoral tone is Goth’s main draw, but unfortunately, this intriguing idea loses something in the execution.
To put it simply, Goth’s main problem is that it isn’t always easy to deduce what is supposed to be going on. The opening chapter is straightforward enough, but as the story progresses, it also becomes more confusing. A lack of variation in character designs and some unclear explanation make portions of the story less than enlightening, with the final arc turning out to be especially afflicted by this problem. Had the manga continued for longer, it might have settled down and worked out these flaws, but whilst its short length ensures that it does not outstay its welcome, it also restricts the opportunity for the series to realise its full potential.
As to be expected from the same artist who brought the NHK manga to life, the artwork uses a bold, high contrast style, with stark black and white imagery that is somewhat reminiscent of xxxHOLiC. As mentioned above, however, many of the designs are too similar for their own good, with most characters falling into either the “generic male” or “generic female” category rather than having a unique appearance. Given the subject matter, be sure to expect a number of gory and disturbing scenes; this isn’t a manga for the squeamish or faint of heart.
Its basic concept may be intriguing, but unfortunately Goth loses many points for obscuring its message with confusing scenes and poor execution. If you fancy reading some darker material, then by all means give it a try, but be aware that you may feel somewhat dissatisfied with the overall product.