Author: Miho Obana
Publisher: Ribon Mascot Comics
First Published: 1999
Source: Read Online
A boy whose parents died in a car crash suddenly remembers that he had an older brother once who went missing years ago. In an effort to find his only remaining relative, he goes out on a trip to find him, only to find himself at a mysterious mansion where a ghost of his brother's girlfriend haunts them.
One of my favorite story arcs in Kodocha was the on-location shoot for Sana’s first film, Palace of Water. It is during an arc where Sana grapples with her personal relationships and realizes feelings she didn’t know existed. Brief snippets of the film are included in the story for different parts of the shoot, and for years I had always wondered what the movie would have been like! The premise sounded really interesting, and the bits of story that are shown showed the usually cheerful Sana taking on a more somber, chilling role.
This is an ever-present desire whenever I read about a film or story that is contained within a story, I become invested in the characters and plot, and I wonder what it’d be like as a standalone. I was excited to find out that Miho Obana had written a standalone one-shot about the movie, finally my curiosity would be sated! Unfortunately, I realized that at times it is perhaps better to leave things up to the imagination.
“Shall we let him in…?”
The story follows a young man who searches for his missing brother, and it leads him to a mysterious mansion in the middle of the woods. He encounters a ghostly young girl that is both pretty but possessive. I wanted so much to know the backstory of this girl, and what happened to the main character’s brother. The explanation was… Not good, in fact, it was really weird. The story is not that scary at all, even though there is at least one disturbing and bloody scene. I feel that this can be attributed to the fact that Obana is a shojo writer known for her rom-com’s, so the attempt at a spooky story was a bit weak.
I did not understand the need for the plants sub-plot in what could have been a chilling story about a ghost. As should be expected from a story that takes place in the background of another story, Palace of the Water was pretty sparse and not well developed. It was immersive enough that I could view Sana and Naozumi as different people, and forgot that these are characters from Kodocha. I also really liked the mini-chapter at the end, which included a teenage Sana and Akito watching the film.
It makes me wonder if I should have skipped this one if only so I could continue to wonder about the possibilities for this fictional film. I would only recommend this one-shot for existing fans of Kodocha if only to sate the curiosity that I’m sure other readers felt as well while reading the original series.
Warnings: Violence, abuse, blood, mild sexual content, death