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Domu : A Child's Dream
(Child Dream)
Genre Supernatural, Horror
Author Katsuhiro Otomo
Publisher Japan Futabasha
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Young Magazine
Original run January 19, 1980July 06, 1981
Volumes 3
Anime and Manga Portal

Domu (童夢 Dōmu ?) is a graphic novel created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Similar to his work Akira, the story centers on children possessing telekinetic powers. The manga was serialized between 1980 and 1982 and was later republished as a graphic novel in 1983. It has sold over 500,000 copies in Japan.

Otomo has stated in various interviews that the main inspiration for Domu came partly from an apartment complex he lived in when he first moved to Tokyo & partly from a news report he heard about a rash of suicides that occurred at a different apartment complex.

In the late 1990s, Guillermo Del Toro expressed interest in directing a film adaptation of Domu, and in 1999, Variety ran a story stating that Del Toro was preparing to direct the film for Touchstone Pictures,[1] but the project has yet to materialize. Though Del Toro had once stated that complicated rights issues have prevented the film from being made,[2] Otomo said in a 2006 interview that he gave Del Toro the rights to make the film.[3] The American English translation of the graphic novel is currently out of print and difficult to find. Dark Horse comics no longer holds the English-language rights.



  • Chojiro Uchida - also known as Old Cho, he is a senile old man who lives at the housing complex. Old Cho has psychic powers which he uses to murder other occupants of the complex. His apparent motive for the killings is to possess an item belonging to the victim, which Old Cho then takes as trophies. The old man believes that his murders and the chaos resulting from his actions are more like children's games than actual wrongdoings, and he often acts like an immature child.
  • Etsuko - a young girl who moves into the housing complex with her family. Etsuko also has an immense battery of psychic powers and uses them to battle with Old Cho and stop his reign of terror against the housing complex.
  • Inspector Yamagawa - a senior police detective who acts as the first lead investigator on the case.
  • Inspector Okamura - the second lead investigator on the case, replacing Inspector Yamagawa. He was once a close, longtime colleague of Yamagawa's.
  • Inspector Tamura - a young detective helping Inspector Yamagawa and later Inspector Okamura with the investigation.
  • Tsutomu Sasaki - a young resident who has tried unsuccessfully to get into college for the previous three years, but spends his time building model airplanes when he should be studying.
  • Yoshigawa - a former truck driver, he is a hard-core alcoholic whose abusive relationship with his wife caused her to leave both him and their son, Hiroshi. He seems to neglect his son, and instead lies around his apartment extremely intoxicated when not outside.
  • Hiroshi - Yoshigawa's son who is also a friend of Etsuko and Little Yo.
  • Yoshio Fujiyama - also known as "Little Yo," he is a large, physically strong, yet mentally retarded man who is friends with Etsuko and Hiroshi. He was once accused of child molestation by other complex residents.
  • Mrs. Tezuka - a woman who lives at the complex, known for disturbing behavior, such as walking around the complex driving an empty stroller. Mrs. Tezuka was once confined in a mental hospital, after what was perhaps a nervous breakdown following a miscarriage.

The inspectors Yamagawa and Tamura both appear in an earlier one-shot by Otomo, namely Ashita No Yakusoku, which involved the pair yet again as head inspectors on a bizarre murder case. This story was collected in Highway Star.


The story, which takes place in approximately 1979 or 1980, begins with the death of a man later identified as Mr. Ueno, the general manager of a local supermarket. We see him reach the roof of the Tsutsumi Housing Complex, the group of tower block apartment buildings where he lives, and find out later that he has fallen to his death from the roof in an apparent suicide. Ueno's death brings the tally of mysterious, unsolved deaths in the complex to a staggering thirty-two in only three years.

Inspector Yamagawa, a senior police detective, and Inspector Tamura, his young partner, are sent to investigate the deaths, as they have so many times before. They soon discover that it was impossible for Mr. Ueno to have access to the roof, as the lock of the door to the roof has long been rusted shut and the only person who has the keys is the manager of the complex.

Inspector Yamagawa decides to take a different approach in the investigation. Instead of poring over any apparent connection between the victims, he tells his investigators to find any leads regarding anyone who ever held a grievance against the complex. He later visits the complex to talk with the manager about any suspicious occupants. The manager tells Yamagawa of a few residents he has had problems with in the past, including: Mrs. Tezuka, an eccentric woman who was sent to a mental hospital after a miscarriage; Yoshio Fujiyama, also known as "Little Yo", a strong but mentally retarded man who was once accused of child molestation by the other residents; and Yoshikawa, a former truck driver and abusive alcoholic. The manager also mentions Chojiro Uchida, nicknamed "Old Cho," a senile old man who lives alone. Inspector Yamagawa makes notes regarding these individuals.

Upon returning to the police station, Inspector Yamagawa is met by Inspector Tamura, who informs him that a witness has come forward. The witness, a housewife, tells the inspectors that she had seen Mr. Ueno walking in an apparent trance past her apartment, wearing a strange baseball cap with wings sown on. During a later interview with Mr. Ueno's wife and son, the inspectors learn that the cap went missing following Mr. Ueno's death. Mrs. Ueno also says she thought she heard her front door open sometime after ten 'o-clock the night her husband died.

That night, two policemen patrol the housing complex. After one of them heads to some nearby bushes to urinate, the other officer hears a disembodied voice asking to look at his gun. When the officer returns, he finds his partner missing, but hears the partner's body falling nearby. The other officer is later found dead, his gun missing. The following morning, when he is informed that the gun has still yet to be found, Inspector Yamagawa tells his men to see if any of the victims' possessions went missing following their deaths.

Inspector Yamagawa goes back to the housing complex that night. After someone in the darkness throws a ball towards him, the inspector's beeper goes off. After Inspector Yamagawa calls the police station only to learn they haven't paged him, he suspects the killer is watching him and offers the beeper as a trophy. To Inspector Yamagawa's fright, however, the beeper abruptly explodes and a voice in the darkness says, "Don't want it no more!" Inspector Yamagawa flees, but finds himself on one of the complex buildings, the voice taunting him about his rheumatism, some unkind thoughts he once had about Inspector Tamura, as well as demons regarding his daughter and mother. Inspector Yamagawa then makes it to the roof, where he meets Old Cho, floating in the air and possessing trophies from his many victims, including Mr. Ueno's winged hat. It is revealed later that he seemingly jumped off the building.

The following day, a new girl named Etsuko moves into the complex with her family. When Old Cho uses his powers to drop a baby off a balcony, Etsuko uses her own psychic talents to save the child's life. She then confronts Old Cho about the deed, calling him "an awful little brat." Old Cho tries to strike her with a pebble, but she repels this attack as well. Etsuko leaves, leaving Old Cho visibly shaken. Etsuko later makes new friends, who tell her to stay away from a boy named Hiroshi, Yoshikawa's son.

Meanwhile, Inspector Okamura, a detective who was once colleagues with the late Inspector Yamagawa, visiting the housing complex. While he sits at a park bench, he sees what looks like an apparition of Inspector Yamagawa sitting across from him. After the apparition disappears, a voice shouts in Inspector Okamura's head, telling him not to come back. At the police station, he is given an overview of the case, and goes over the strange circumstances under which Inspector Yamagawa died with his new colleagues.

At the housing complex, Etsuko makes friends with Hiroshi and Little Yo. When Etsuko departs, Hiroshi returns to his apartment, where is father is extremely intoxicated. On her way home, Etsuko is attacked by Tsutomu Sasaki, a young man trying to get into college who has been previously visited and now possessed by Old Cho. After Etsuko teleports to avoid being stabbed by a utility knife by Old Cho/Sasaki, Old Cho makes Sasaki slit his own throat (and supposedly then explode), severely traumatizing Etsuko. At the crime scene the following day, Inspector Tamura sees another apparition of Inspector Yamagawa.

That night, as Yoshikawa hangs out in the complex courtyard, Old Cho's voice offers him something better than a drink. In front the startled Yoshikawa, in mid-air, appears the gun stolen from the policeman Old Cho previously killed.

In the morning, Inspector Tamura visits a Professor Kaneko to get his expert opinion on the recent goings-on at the complex, as well as any information on Japanese shamanism. Professor Kaneko refers Inspector Tamura to a practicing shaman named Noriko Nonomura. After Inspector Tamura meets to Ms. Nonomura, they agree to travel to the housing complex to let her examine it for signs of supernatural power.

Meanwhile, a policeman appears at Old Cho's apartment regarding his patio doors, which were shattered at the same time Etsuko was attacked by the possessed Sasaki. The policeman and the manager are surprised to find the residence completely empty with no furniture, save for a ring the policeman finds near the broken patio door.


The work focuses primarily on a conflict between true children (who never grew up) and false children (irresponsible or childish adults). The former, represented by Etsuko and Little Yo, face off against the latter, represented by Old Cho and Yoshikawa. Ironically, true children are depicted as more responsible than childish adults, as well as morally pure in contrast to the amorality of irresponsible childhood. The action is set against a complex backdrop (composed of literally dozens of painstaking recreations of the housing complex) worthy of the author's training as a student of architecture and drafting, and carries an underlying theme of the difficulties in such dense living conditions.


1983: Japan Science Fiction Grand Prix


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