Doubt revolves around a fictional cell phone game called “Rabbit Doubt“, in which the players are rabbits in a colony; one of these players is randomly chosen to act as a wolf infiltrating the group. Each round, the rabbits guess which is the wolf as the rabbits are eaten one-by-one until none are left.
In this story, six people wake up in an abandoned building and realise they are players in a real-life version of the “Rabbit Doubt” game. To survive, the wolf, the liar, must die.
Now [Rabbit] Doubt isn’t profoundly intelligent and penetratingly moving, but it is still nevertheless intelligent and expressive and striking in creating a creepy and a somewhat dark atmosphere it uses. What Doubt does best is actually adding doubt to what you believe is happening (fitting name for such a manga =P). While the mystery elements may seem predictable while reading the manga and in hindsight (depends how you perceive things), Doubt does a great job twisting the elements you may have already saw through in a surprising and intriguing way and taking it further than what you expected, and in turn adding doubts to your perceptions and beliefs.
Hints are thrown in quite often in the story that just yell out to you to ask a certain question or think a certain thought. You may end up predicting who the antagonist is from the first chapter or at least have a good idea who it may be. As for me, I ended up reading the first chapter as a shounen manga rather than a mystery and horror manga, the reason being is because I was caught up in the whole “friendship”, “smiles” and “happy moments” scenes in the chapter – I really did enjoy it because it was pretty awesome how the characters helped their friend out. All that “happy vibe” shattered when the chapter reached it’s end and the survival/horror Rabbit Doubt game began. The game setting is interesting but it’s pretty straight forward.
Some people may argue that the predictable nature of the mystery is what reduces the enjoyment of this manga, but what lessened the enjoyment for me was the lack of thought the characters put in their decisions and perceptions of developments. You’ll encounter one early on and it will probably annoy you for the rest of the manga as it will keep arising in your thoughts now and than and leave you wondering why the characters omitted to do such a simple act. The fact that such an action from the characters was omitted by the mangaka does lessen the comprehensive nature of the story (several actions the characters didn’t do in the start will leave you wondering why). Now there are other character actions that had me sighing, at times it just seemed as if some of the characters reach a point where their suspicions overflow and jump on the nearest answer they can find and treat that as the “truth”. Now those conclusions may be logical and have reason, but they are in no where conclusive enough to treat as the “truth” – I’m sure if certain characters thought about it longer, they probably would have seen the holes in their logic as well. You will find there are several plot holes in the manga which consequently pierce through the masks of the mysteries as you come across each one which eventually exposes the faces of mystery before it even takes off it’s mask.
The other thing that did annoy me a bit, is the unawareness of the main character. Sometimes he just gets caught up in all the panic and fear and ends up missing the logical answers in front of him. Maybe the author really did want to convey that the main character is just a teenager with the mindset at a teenager level, but I still expected more from the characters when their lives are at stack and their trust is tested and potentially torn apart. It goes without saying, the only adult in the group was my favourite character – Hajime is awesome.
By chapter 7, you may have already figured out who the “killer” is – I was 70% sure at that point. Each chapter from than onwards just makes more certain an already certain prediction. Though I did have 2 theories formed by time the big reveal came, each theory did make sense but I played off my second theory due to it seeming illogical in this somewhat logical driven manga. I was right in regards to my first theory, but what I really like which Doubt did was twist things up – I saw through the first development but some of the subsequent developments I wasn’t entirely expecting (the thought had crossed my mind but there wasn’t much confidence backing them). If I had combined my theories A and B, I may have predicted the twist, but as I said the illogical nature of theory B led me playing out such a possibility. Doubt did take the route I thought was illogical but it spun it off in a logical sense with some crossing over into realms of illogicality near the end of the manga. While I had ran through a similar possibility in my head, the developments before that twist did actually make me doubt my theory and caused me to expect it less, which in turn did leave me more surprised when it did reveal itself =P.
Chapter 1-14 can be quite boring and at times annoying, but from the end of chapter 14 to near the end of the manga, the story REALLY picks up and when you learn about the reasons and what really happened, things end up twisting in unexpected and eventful ways that do grip and entertain you. It could be because I changed the way I looked at Doubt from chapter 15 onwards (not expecting the same level of writing as 999) or could just be because the writing improved a lot – I think it’s both, but whatever the reason, the way the ending chapters tied the earlier parts of the story together really was great. Seeing actions fleshed out and developments getting twisted the way they were was satisfying. Having more doubts piled onto the theories you came up with, and battling through the misdirections of suspicion to come up to the actual mystery behind everything was exciting and enjoyable.
Depending on what methods you employ to interpret the information, you may end up at the conclusion quite quickly, but even still, you will end up quite surprised at how things come together.
I mentioned the manga tied things up really nicely, but when it came to the very end, I felt it twisted things a twist too far and caused the plot, atmosphere and some characterisation of the manga to implode. The end was bitter and unsatisfying, you may disagree and be fine with it, but I do feel it did leave things off on a unpleasant note. The mangaka probably intended for it to be a terrifying and haunting cliff hanger, but it just drove a stake through the heart of what the chapters before it built-up. I couldn’t help but think “that was too easy” when the final twist was revealed, it felt like the “challenge” that the game seemed to have held prior to such a twist was snuffed out. It felt as if the main characters really had no choice but to “flow downstream”.
Still the end is left open and up to the reader to decide, which I like. The manga overall is a really nice read and the artwork is great, especially at creating that eerie and spooky atmosphere the story is surrounded by. It isn’t easy creating a gripping psychological and thriller story, and so even if there are several plot holes, the manga does succeed at creating an intriguing and at times really fascinating story. If you can last through the first half of the manga, you will be quite impressed at how the rest of the chapters tie the developments up and spin it around – I know I was.
[There is a sequel to Doubt – called Judge, so I will be checking that out to see how things carry on.]