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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.