One-shot Wonders – Hotel Harbour View

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Not all of us get to choose how we live, even less to the desired end. Hotel Harbour View is story about a man who attempts reign control back into his life by deciding and planning out his own death, just the way he wants it to end.

What is One-shot Wonders?

Hotel Harbour View is a one-shot manga that primarily focuses on one female character that plays the role of the assassin. She’s not quite the main character, as the story is split into two different tales and have different focuses. However confusing that it sounds, I can assure you it makes for a good read.

The first of the two stories is named “Hotel Harbour View”, which is the name of the hotel that the protagonist, a self-exiled Japanese national, is staying at. The story makes it quite obvious that he is in some sort of danger and is waiting for it at any moment; there are panels of him at the gun range and in his room practicing his draw speed.

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I’ll explain a bit about the first scene, where he is at the gun range, where this plays into the rather tragic ending. Of course, I will spoiler tag these answers, so if you plan on reading it, come back after you’ve finished the manga and open these. Otherwise, do whatever you like.

(Spoiler!) What is the significance of the gun range scene?

It’s not exactly clear how long the guy has been staying in the hotel, but the bartender does mention that the Japanese man has been repeating the same schedule of drinking till he blacks out and hiring the same prostitute, despite the high costs involved in doing both.

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During his sexual tryst with prostitute he hired, he mentions the reason he’s so on edge all of the time: A hired gun is coming to kill him.

(Spoiler!) Who hired the assassin?

He has the curse of a man who knows he is going to die, and when; meaning that unlike many others, he has the chance to prepare for his demise. Ordering a hooker, drinking all day, and preparing a coffin are among the things that he chooses to do in his final moments on earth. To me, they’re all great scenes that build up the mood, a rather kind of somber and macabre turn for the story to take you don’t see very often.

Most times, a character that dies in a story is outright killed by an antagonist/accident/disease and it somewhat cheapens the emotional impact. You could say “Sure, I noticed these death flags…”, and all that says about the story was that it was predictable. It’s a whole different case when the protagonist not only worries about death, but is actively aware of his own demise and is planning for it. Hotel Harbour View is a really short story, and I feel as if longer stories could benefit from this kind of setup.

Naturally the protagonist and the story is rather vague about details like names, or even the details of the hunted man. It’s a great reflection on a person’s story in real life, not all of us are superstars that everyone would know; we’re just another human, and he’s in a big city full of a lot of people.

(Spoiler!) What details are given in the story about why the man wanted to die?

I give Hotel Harbour View the coveted “Must Read/10” rating, one of the highest and subjective ratings that Moe-Alt can provide.

Overall, it was a great way to pass a few minutes and a great time while it lasted. I’m more receptive to it because it’s a manga, and there are a lot of great stories that get passed up either due to their short length, seinen tag, or just plain old obscurity.

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6 responses to “One-shot Wonders – Hotel Harbour View

  1. Great read! This is one of my favorite manga. That one full page panel near the end with bullet… one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in manga.

    • Rarely do I stumble across powerful stories like this this one, and I highly recommend the next story that’s bundled with Hotel Harbor View. The tragic part is why he’s even shot in the first place, I can really sympathize with his soul crushing feeling of impending doom, and his choice to die on his own is quite possible the only control he has left. Plus I really love the atmosphere.

  2. Don Don Kun

    Thanks for writing about this neat little short story. It would have completely passed by my radar otherwise. The stylistic touch was very representative of film noir and the paneling wove together an understated sort of poetic narrative, complete with some nicely placed visual metaphors; in particular, the connection between prostitution and assassination, bullet wounds and love wounds.

    And of course, the story has that whole meta layer with the man attempting to structure his own death after his favourite gangster/yakuza flicks. So yeah, enjoyed this one!

    • Only the finest meta for the meta knight of Moe-Alt! Real underground stuff, sublime, serene, and superb. I’ll make sure to update you with more hard hitting stories.

  3. time to introduc us a new manga and share a new post. come on where are you guys?

    • Don Don Kun

      We’re still alive and actively working on new content, which should be up shortly, just busy with real life stuff (I blame Sailor Moon for being so fun to watch full-time work).